IBC 2013: Today’s broadcaster faces an increasingly complex landscape, says Kantar Media’s Andy Brown.

There are more TV channels and more screens - computer, smartphone, tablet - on which consumers can watch content in real-time or via catch-up, as well as emerging distribution channels and automated ways to buy and sell media.

This new world ushers in an explosion in the amount of data available with which to potentially enhance the measurement of television audiences. 

Historically, and today, peoplemeter technology has been used to accurately measure TV audiences.

But now, the potentially larger scale of return path data (RPD) can enable, in a cost effective way, more in-depth analysis notably on smaller channels and viewing occurrences.

Although the term ‘big data’ is almost ubiquitous, how much is really understood about its impact on the broadcast industry?

In terms of providing insight and commercial opportunities, big data underpins addressable advertising. 

Digital technology allows ads to be highly targeted and personalised with the objective of building a direct relationship with the consumer based on their individual viewing habits. 

More effective for advertisers, it delivers better ROI as they are able to pinpoint the people most likely to engage with their brand or category. 

It also enables broadcasters to more effectively monetise their inventory according to its value to the advertiser. 

In addition, big data is also gathered closer to real-time than any previous number-crunching has achieved, thereby offering the potential for advertisers and broadcasters to respond more quickly to specific activity and possibly directly to an viewer.

No discussion about big data can ignore social media - six million of the UK’s 10 million Twitter users regularly tweet about TV for example. 

That’s a lot of audience information.

Kantar Media’s recently announced agreement with Twitter will see this social TV data combined with audience research expertise to enable broadcasters to assess programmes and series and plan programme promotions more effectively. 

It will also help media buyers and sellers to integrate social data more comprehensively into the TV component of their media mix.

But as with all ‘new’ technologies and techniques, it is important to be realistic about what big data can’t achieve. 

Huge amounts may be collected that neither add value nor provide tangible commercial benefit to broadcasters or advertisers and in these cases a sample of the data is as valuable as a complete audit. 

It must also be recognised that, as in all industries, there is a degree of inertia and legacy of existing models. 

Although certain parts of the broadcast ecosystem can replicate the use of big data by other industries (such as social media being integrated into TV content), elements such as the trading currencies for advertising airtime may take longer.

These are still early days in big data, but there can be no doubt that it will change the way that TV content is created, purchased and consumed. 

These are challenging – but interesting – times.

  • Andy Brown is Kantar Media chief executive