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BARC looking to measure viewership of online videos; Our take on challenges

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This is interesting: The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India is looking to expand its mandate to audience measurement in the digital space. The entity, which does audience measurement on TV, has issued a “Request for Information” with the intent of monitoring audience across media, including the Internet and mobile. BARC measures TV viewing via “BAR-O-meters”, which use watermarking for measurement.

What they’re looking to do

At present, the entity is focused on understanding how online video advertising is measured, essentially: “the capabilities of Online Video Advertising and Content measurement techniques with regards to panel and census measurement across video types, devices and platforms.” Following this, the entity will issue a Request for Proposal.

For the Internet (and Mobile), they’re looking to measure: ad breaks in live streams, pre-roll and mid-roll videos, and targeted/addressable advertising linked to the content on broadcaster sites or social media or any other website/apps.”

Those responding to BARC will need to detail how measurement is done:

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– How their offerings work.
– What types of video, devices and platforms the company is able to measure.
– At what level of detail.
– Whether the approach requires third party action (eg tagging, encoding or API).

MediaNama’s take

This won’t be easy: the distributed nature of the Internet makes it difficult to measure the viewership of videos, and the ability to measure will essentially depend on the willingness of platforms to allow that measurement.

Different platforms will also share different level of detail, when it comes to audience. How will BARC be able to get data on the viewership of a video being shared on Whatsapp? In case of YouTube, probably the largest platform for video consumption in India, advertising is based on context, geography, interest and demographic segmentation. They can provide usage data, but that is of little use since advertisers cannot choose which video they can place ads on.

Therefore, to be able to measure the universe of online video will be impossible, and to be able to use that data they get will be difficult as well.

What will be possible, however, is measurement via tie-ups with specific content creators on specific platforms. There is incentive for broadcasters to allow measurement of content on their own streaming sites (especially live streaming), in order to enable what will be cross-platform advertising deals. Once platforms see the benefit of adapting to standards set by BARC, that universe will grow. There is no standardization, and this is an opportunity for BARC to enable that.

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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