The measurement of TV audiences must undergo a radical overhaul if
it is to maintain its credibility into the 21st century, the conference
heard, and Barb is already discussing a new management structure.
John Billett, the chief executive of the Billett Consultancy, kicked off
the discussion by telling delegates: ’If we continue to have audience
research in the hands of the media owners, we will never get the type of
audience research we need - research that is broader than a straight
Bob Wootton, director of media services at the Incorporated Society of
British Advertisers, said there was concern among advertisers that they
should have a more direct say in the running of Barb.
Jerry Hill, the chief executive of TSMS, announced that changes were
under way to the Barb structure - currently dominated by ITV and BBC,
although agencies and advertisers are represented. ’We’re in discussion
to change the shareholding to reflect the structure of the broadcasting
world we’re now in,’ Hill said.
Frank Harrison, the head of media information at Zenith Media, outlined
how the industry’s own measurement system might look in the future. Barb
will continue to use electronic meters linked to TV sets to measure
live-only, minute-by-minute ratings for major stations, as well as
providing figures on fewer demographic groups for groups of minor
stations with larger regions.
This could then be supplemented by a diary survey to cover quarter-hour
ratings for all small stations across one week, four times a year, with
a sample which meets station needs and is integrated with the meter
In addition, ad hoc research, endorsed by the Institute of Practitioners
in Advertising, could be paid for by the media owners.