The Broadcasters' Audience Research Board has met with agencies and
media owners to reassure them about the changeover, scheduled for
January, to its new audience research service.
At a presentation for the media industry on Tuesday, Barb's chief
executive, Caroline McDevitt, unveiled details of the move.
The size of the panel will increase from 4,485 homes to 5,100. Barb is
in the process of putting an entirely new panel of 5,400 homes in place,
from which the 5,100 results will be drawn. However, there are concerns
that not all the homes have yet been installed with systems by ATR,
which won the contract from Barb to run the panel.
There will be larger regional panels for London and the Midlands. Other
changes planned include an increase in demographic categories in the
These will increase from 56 categories to 71 and will allow agencies and
broadcasters to analyse factors such as gender, social class and age in
more detail. Analysis of age groups will also be more flexible, with
users of the new Barb system able to target listeners in five-year age
ranges for the first time.
McDevitt admitted there would be teething troubles during the changeover
period, not least because Barb is moving away from paper-based
"We are trying to reassure people that it will be business as usual. Our
objective is to ensure integration of data and an improved service,"
Nick Mawditt, the UK research director at Initiative Media, said: "The
presentation was very comprehensive and Barb has done well given the
massive job to be done, but there are a few things to alarm the
"The first thing is the lack of parallel run information. The other area
of concern is that it is looking like mid-February before we get a