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BARB’s Project Dovetail Splutters to Life

BARB’s Project Dovetail Splutters to Life

In accordance with shifting consumption patterns, the TV audience measurement body BARB has now begun to track viewing across the four primary screen types: TVs, tablets, PCs and smartphones.

After being on the cards for a while, this has finally come to fruition – albeit in staggered steps. Codenamed Project Dovetail (due to the phenomenal complexities involved), it remains in its first stages, with further milestones still to be revealed. This includes, tantalisingly, the unveiling of ‘multiple-screen advertising campaign performance’.

Of course, this has unleashed the tiger in terms of highlighting the increased fragmentation of the audience and accordant erosion of the nuclear family/societal glue. Reassuringly however, initial findings indicate that traditional TV viewing remains, by a long shot, the most popular way to watch.

This is all grist to the mill for advertisers, pouring much needed water on the flames of proclamation of TV’s imminent demise. These latest findings indicate that it remains buoyant and strong, defiant in the face of technological onslaught. Advertisers are still keen to benefit from the brand-safe, regulated content that TV provides.

Interestingly, it is programming specifically attuned to younger audiences that is demonstrating the most significant uplift in incremental reach provided by non-TV screens. ITV’s Love Island was boosted by up to 24% uplift as people spread viewing across tablets, PCs and smartphones. Once again, the mass migration of the crucial 16-24 market has been premature.

Cross-platform tracking does raise the question of what constitutes an impact. Could viewing across disparate platforms including YouTube also be incorporated? Concerns remain prevalent about the unsettlingly disparate and non-regulated nature of the video platform’s content. Until this issue is satisfactorily resolved on a corporate level, it remains unlikely that Dovetail will jump on that particular band-wagon.

As traditional TV pleasingly retains its grip on the viewer, it will be fascinating to see how this teasing game of cat and mouse plays out.

Robin Dorman
Head of Broadcast

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