Mediametrie… who, why, how?

02 Dec,2013

 

By A Correspondent

 

If the question in our headline is what a lot of broadcast industry stakeholders have been asking this weekend, there’s reason. The US- and UK-exposed Indian media fraternity do not know much about Mediametrie, the French joint industry body for TV measurement that’s been chosen as the primary technology vendor by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).

 

The BARC Board met on Saturday, November 30 and is reported to have given an in-principle clearance for awarding the measurement contract to the French measurement body. However, that’s as per the information leaked. Officially, the BARC communiqué issued doesn’t name any vendor.

 

On Saturday, the BARC Board met to decide on the technology and the path ahead. “There was unanimity in deciding on a leap in technology to be used in television measurement. The Board approved the management and the technical and commercial committees to go ahead and finalize with a couple of international companies for this. The team will be completing the pilots and will start deployments soon. The Board also decided on the funding mechanism and is encouraged by the response received from banks for funding the project,” the release noted.

 

As per reports earlier this year that were later denied by a BARC official, there were five vendors shortlisted for the key function of installation of set-top boxes and generate measurement viewership numbers. These included Kantar and Nielsen. Sources say Nielsen was in the final shortlist of three and was close to being selected, but the solution it offered was far more expensive than that of Mediametrie. TAM, a joint venture of Nielsen and WPP-owned Kantar, was not involved with the bid process at this stage.

 

The vendor selected will not be involved with the analyzing of data, and that contract will be awarded separately by BARC. TAM is a likely contender for this, subject to the cross-ownership not being a stumbling block in its participation in the bidding process.

 

So what is it that got Mediametrie to win the race? And who and what is Mediametrie?

The reasons, in brief:

First, the technology.

Second, the low cost.

Third: Mediametrie is not married to any set-top box provider

And fourth, Mediametrie is structured like BARC and is not a solely-for-profit body

 

The technology Mediametrie is likely to deploy is called ‘watermarking’ which entails inserting into programmes a ‘mark’ that is inaudible to the human ear. This ‘mark’ contains the identification of the channel which airs the content and the regular broadcast time markers. The audimeters installed in panellists’ homes can then recognise this information. According to sources, BARC officials have discussed the viability of inserting these markers with private channels as well as with Doordarshan. The technology allows for measurement of TV content on mobile phones as well as sedentary computers.

 

The watermarking technology is being licensed from a Netherlands-headquartered vendor Civolution.

 

The cost is indeed low for the technology and the set-top boxes and that’s the reason why BARC is bullish about achieving a 50,000 panel base in a year-and-a-half (See: http://www.mxmindia.com/2013/10/barc-eyes-50k-panel-in-1-5-years/) .

 

A key irritant in the increase of the panel base of TAM was the cost of set-top boxes deployed. While TAM was willing to buy more, the costs were high and the taxes made them even more pricey. With the Mediametrie deal, the measurement technology is the key and not the set-top boxes. In fact, the boxes will need to be procured by BARC separately through one or more vendors. As per a source, Nielsen almost won contract due to this clause, as it was a tried-and-tested offering. However, buoyed by the confidence reposed by various stakeholders, the BARC technical committee is understood to have taken the decision to get into a separate contract with one or two hardware providers who can bring in the mandatory 20,000 set-top boxes required within six months of the government guidelines for TV measurement coming into force. Cisco was also rumoured to be in the running for this contract, but sources say that it may not among the chosen ones.

 

As per info on its website (hence not verified by this correspondent), Médiamétrie was founded in 1985 in response to the changing demands in the French audiovisual sector. The government encouraged the creation of an independent company to ensure that audiences of the principal audiovisual media could be measured scientifically. This independence for Mediametrie is guaranteed by the presence of all professional parties, in all its decision-making processes and in its stakeholding, including the media, advertisers and agencies without any of them having a majority holding to take a decision alone. The ownership and structure of Mediametrie is hence quite like BARC and it isn’t a solely-for-profit set-up.

 

Médiamétrie is now developing its range of services and extending its scope by working on new media, telephony, new multimedia practices, crossmedia, etc. It offers original products designed for specific users and launches offers on the international market that have become essential due to changes in consumers’ listening and viewing habits. Mediametrie has also created Eurodata TV Worldwide for analyzing and distributing info on over 5500 channels across over 100 countries.

 

Civolution was  formed in October 2008 as a spin-off of Royal Philips Electronics.  In August 2008, Philips Content Identification, a business unit of Philips Electronics, assumed full ownership of its joint venture Teletrax. The combined entity was spun out of Philips in October giving birth to Civolution. In July 2009, Civolution took over the Software and Technology Solution from Thomson (Thomson STS), formerly NextAmp. Mediatmetrie’s technology is aided by that of Thomson (and hence Civolution).

 

So, a source close to the developments, told MxMIndia that while Mediametrie is the primary tech vendor, Civolution and the set-top box vendor(s) will also play a key role in the implementation.

 

When will the new BARC measurement come into force?

BARC as we know is a Joint Industry Body (JIB) set up in 2012 with the specific purpose of designing, commissioning, supervising and owning India’s Television Audience Measurement System. IT is a joint venture bringing together the three key stakeholders – broadcasters, advertisers and advertising and media agencies. Their respective apex bodies, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), represent the three sectors.

 

Although the public position for BARC may be that the new measurement regime will be up and about by the end of Q2 of 2014 (that’s by June 30, 2014), MxMIndia estimates as per discussions with various stakeholders in the industry, given the criticality of the data, subscribers will switch off the tap only after they are a hundred thousand percent convinced about the data.

 

“Remember Q3 and Q4 are the all-important adspend seasons and we can’t afford to risk any mess-up due to the non-availability of data that has a buy-in of all parties. So even though we want the new BARC system to be a success, we need to be realistic,” said one industryperson. A broadcast sales head was more pragmatic. “Although it appears that the market will improve and we will be done with the elections, over the last few years there have been too many extraneous factors impacting broadcast sales. We can’t have one more variable in the system,” he said, indicating that the transition to the new measurement regime from TAM could well be done in a phased manner. So the new BARC data will start coming in from August 2014, as per scheduled, but subscribers may dispense with the current system only later.

 

In the meantime, BARC needs to also contend with the government and a zealous Minister of Information and Broadcasting who is keen on effecting the new measurement regime in his tenure. “Minister Tewari’s intent is well-placed,” said a key BARC stakeholder, adding: “In reality, the system just can’t be executed in the UPA-2 tenure. Also, we do not a half-baked system to get operational.”

 

The minister (and the ministry) is keenly keeping tabs on the progress being made on this front and it is learnt that key BARC officials are likely to meet them in Delhi this week.

 

Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.