BSkyB sets up viewer panel to sell platform

BSkyB has appointed the market information company TNS to run its 20,000-strong research panel, designed to show the relative benefits of advertising to satellite viewers.

The panel is four times larger than the existing Barb panel but is made up purely of Sky's digital satellite viewers. It is designed as a sales tool to woo advertisers away from terrestrial television.

As well as providing more detailed audience viewing data on these viewers, it aims to establish a relationship between viewing habits and corresponding purchasing behaviour by including 7,000 households that are already part of TNS's existing consumer research panels.

These TNS panels, Superpanel, FashionTrak and Impulse, provide measurement of the brands purchased by individuals in 30,000 households across brands in a wide range of categories, including FMCG and clothing.

TNS has been charged with combining the more detailed information about the viewing habits of Sky viewers with their purchasing habits in order to demonstrate the value of audiences to advertisers.

The company is in the process of designing and recruiting the panel and the first results are expected to be available in early 2005.

Mark Chippendale, the director of sales at BSkyB's ad sales division, Sky Media, said: "As take-up of digital continues to rise, BSkyB is committed to achieving sustained growth in its ad revenues. This initiative will deepen understanding of digital audiences and demonstrate to marketers the potential return on investment offered by advertising on multichannel television."

The initiative coincides with moves by a consortium of commercial TV broadcasters - including Sky - to find more effective ways of marketing television as a medium.

Mike Gorton, the head of TV and radio audience measurement at TNS, added: "Building on our expertise in running large panels and our record of innovation within the field of TV audience research, it is the first time a panel has been created that is large enough to measure viewers' use of satellite and interactive TV services to a satisfactory level of detail."

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).