Audience measurement is critical to media brands and marketers alike. For international media there are additional challenges, as content is delivered across a range of media platforms and devices across multiple countries and regions.
Fortunately there are well-established methods which allow measurement of international audiences and a number of specialist providers who can help answer the key questions: who is watching, how they are watching and what platforms they are using – as well as extra information about their consumer and lifestyle choices.
Measuring international TV
TV audiences are measured in two main ways. The first way is to use set-top boxes which record TV viewing habits in homes considered ‘representative’ of a population. This allows for a reasonable attempt at counting how many people are watching each channel at any one time.
The other way is to survey people and ask them which TV channels they watch. This is usually asked along with other questions about themselves, their lifestyle habits and product choices to help build a broader picture of what each channel’s audience is like. This is the primary method of measurement for most international channels.
Syndicated Research Surveys
- The purpose of syndicated surveys is to ask people information about themselves and their lifestyles, the kinds of media they like and the products they buy.
- This helps media owners (such as TV channels, website owners and print publishers) to better understand their audiences.
- It also helps media buyers (such as advertisers and agencies) to understand which media, or combination of media, to use to reach their target audiences.
- Data from these surveys can also be used to estimate how many people can be reached with an advertising campaign. This can be done for different media (TV, print and online) and for different target audiences.
Audience Measurement Systems
- Most countries in Europe established audience measurement systems (sometimes called peoplemeters) in the 1980s and 90s.
- Measurement companies compile and distribute viewing figures. These are generally funded by the TV industry in each country and individual TV channels subscribe to receive the data.
- A variety of households are chosen to ensure that people across the country are fairly represented. Each of these households has a set-top box which detects which channel is being watched on TV, and each person indicates when they are watching.
- In some cases, the measurement extends to online TV streaming services which are measured by software installed on devices in the home.
- All this data is sent automatically to the measurement company which then provides audience figures overnight to their subscribers. Consolidated figures, which include catch-up TV and online streaming services, are generally released a week or so later.
Online: Web Analytics & Audience Measurement
- Both measures are very useful to media owners and the differences are summarised below. The numbers will not match precisely, but the trends should be consistent.
Web Analytics Software Audience Measurement Products What is measured Activity of a website at a webpage, section and website perspective Provides a competitive /comparative measure of online audiences for all websites Measurement Period Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Set by provider; for most currencies it is monthly Browsers / Devices Cannot attribute different browsers or devices to people; records everything Attributes data by platform, such as surfing or streaming through a browser. Measures A page being loaded The in-focus screen Trends Tends to increase over time (think brand interactions) Tends to stay flat (as the online population is not growing significantly) Location Global Dependent on provider availability; most will provide data on a country by country basis Allows media owners to… Track website performance across activity, (PVs, visits and time spent) for granular parts of the website to gauge trends, content engagement and internal reporting / dashboarding of website KPIs Obtain audience insights, i.e. demographics, referral and destination information and category behaviours. Identifies audience growth/declines for the website vs. category; where competitive websites are growing/declining in audiences Helps advertisers and clients by reporting website / section metrics for relevant areas of the site, such as where advertising has or could be placed Offers competitive benchmarking of website audiences against competitors and other media channels; depending on availability allows for the provision of R&Fs