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BARB Delays Launch of Dovetail
The eagerly anticipated cross-platform audience monitoring is on hold until BARB can combine two existing metrics into a single measurement

Advertisers and broadcasters eagerly anticipating the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board's (BARB) cross-platform audience measurement Dovetail Fusion this month will have to wait a little longer.

Scheduled to launch in March, Dovetail is intended to be the new gold standard for comparing programme ratings online and on TV. BARB now says it will be delayed.

"With regards to the Dovetail launch, it's taking longer than expected to produce multiple screen viewing figures – the outcome of Dovetail Fusion – to the standard the industry expects of BARB," it states. "At present, we're assessing the data ahead of a review with our Board later this month."

Following this review, a more detailed update on the launch plan is promised.

Project Dovetail was initiated in 2015 with the aim of combining the ratings agency's traditional panel data from 5,100 homes with data collected from connected devices.

Specifically, its goal is to generate census data for online TV viewing through a software code embedded in TV player apps used by viewers. More than 30 different platforms have implemented this software and have been audited to ensure the data meets BARB's standards. These results are already reported weekly in The TV Player Report.

The project will also use software meters installed on the PCs, tablets, and smart phones of panel members delivering information about what has been watched and who was watching.

Kantar Media was awarded the contract to establish a fusion methodology to blend the two sets of data. Apparently it is this fusion which is causing the delay.

A trusted and accountable multiple-screen audience currency is increasingly necessary to unlock further spend against video online and to shore up the value of ads placed against live/linear schedules.

A September 2017 study by IAB Europe found that 90% of European industry stakeholders believe brands would spend more on digital channels if cross-media measurement capabilities were improved.

BARB itself agrees. In a report published in January 2018, the agency admitted, "In a world of fragmentation, traditional TV viewing is declining … Far from being niche, SVOD services are now an established part of the television ecosystem."

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BARB's best guess of growing SVOD viewing habits is that Netflix, Amazon, and Sky Now are the cause, accounting for 19% of total activity in 2018