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StarHub next to launch audience measurement system, what does this mean for the industry?

Shortly after Facebook announced its TV-like ratings i.e video ads via TRP buying, pay TV operator StarHub has partnered with Nielsen to launch StarHub SmarTAM, a TV audience measurement system using Return Path Data (RPD) technology.

StarHub has also commissioned Nielsen to support the subscription and sales of SmarTAM data.

Harvesting RPD from StarHub’s two-way digital set-top boxes in 545,000 homes and applying Nielsen’s proprietary research for TV viewership measurement, StarHub SmarTAM claims to offer advertisers, media buyers, and content providers granular insight into what StarHub TV households and individuals are watching.

The TV audience measurement system tracks both real-time and time-shift viewing of TV content and advertising spots across more than 200 StarHub TV channels. Around 5,000 StarHub TV homes have been selected to be statistically representative of StarHub TV households in Singapore.

The move although not the first in the market, comes at a time the fight for TV Ad dollars is intensifying. (It is worth noting that although digital ad spend is growing exponentially, TV still commands lion’s share in most Asian markets.)

In January this year, Singtel Advertising and Kantar Media, announced a similar deal introducing RPD technology in Singapore as part of SingTel mio TV’s new television audience measurement platform. RPD is captured for the entire Singtel mio TV customer base to ensure that all audience segments and niche channels are also represented.

Not only that, in June this year Singtel Advertising inked a deal with Appier, an AI-empowered cross-screen technology company, to introduce the first programmatic TV solution in Singapore, enabling advertisers to more effectively reach Singapore’s substantial but fragmented TV-watching population.

Throw Facebook into the mix and the war for ad dollars becomes even more brutal. Leveraging its strengths on mobile, Facebook is encouraging marketers to boost TV campaigns with Facebook video ads via TRP buying which provides a way for advertisers to plan, buy and measure Facebook video ads using TRP as the metric. (Read all about Facebook’s move here.)

What does this mean for the indsutry?

In Singapore, historically, media planners have had to make do with V diary for cable TV measurement, which is an archaic anachronism from the 90’s. And while media agencies laud the move saying StarHub’s robust sample of 5,000 lend credibility to this measure of cable ratings and improve accountability, there are a few points to note.

“One will have to factor in additional complexity later in 2nd quarter of 2016, where we will have an additional ratings system commissioned by MDA. We could potentially end up with three different ratings systems (GfK, TNS and Nielsen) for measuring TV in Singapore leading to a scenario of more confusion on which metric is ‘the right metric’.” Helen Lee, managing director of ZenithOptimedia, Singapore, said.

With potentially three measurement systems by year end, Lee believes media companies such as MediaCorp and StarHub will leverage on the system that will give them the strongest position.

“Multi-screens viewing is very prevalent now therefore it actually makes sense to look at ratings from the unified measurement system that MDA is championing,” she added.

For advertisers and media agencies, the unified measurement system would be the one to potentially provide a neutral perspective.

We are also very eager to see whether the data will confirm some of the hypothesis.

Echoing the sentiment is James Campbell, head of planning at Mindshare who said with its additional data sets, Starhub has taken a big jump to the front of the field when it comes to audience measurement.

“While we see this a very positive move on Starhub’s part, it will undoubtedly create another challenge for the industry – lack of single source panel – at a time when advertisers and agencies are looking for a common measurement currency,” he added.

Currently FTA and Singtel are measured by Kantar, Starhub now by Nielsen while the digital media owners are looking at a host of different solutions.

As GFK put their own system in place following the MDA tender, and as this develops further to fulfill the original ambition, questions will need to be answered about which measurement systems should be adopted by the industry as a whole.

Lauding the move Nick Seckold, CEO of Mindshare Singapore said while Starhub has always had great content, the lack of cable ratings data has discouraged many advertisers from investing more due to pressures to deliver ROI back to their businesses.

“Given their relationship with their customers across a number of areas I’m pleased to see them start to use some of the data assets to validate the quality of their content. We also see SmarTAM allowing brands to drill deeper at the planning stage to target specific audiences/ households based on behavioural trends. If Starhub can deliver on the ambition, it will most certainly create a step change in how TV advertising is planned and measured,” he added.

But only time will tell if this has an effect on the FTA operators given the level of comfort the market has with traditional ratings methodology. “If nothing else, it will force the industry as a whole move forward to innovate at a time many brands are shifting a greater percentage of their investment online.”

(Photo courtesy: Shutterstock)

 

 

 

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