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Audience measurement: the saga continues

Audience measurement: the saga continues

News this week says that audience measurement for the region is imminent – but we’ve heard that one before, more than once. Is it for real this time?

November 28, 2010 1:20 by

There are stories in the press this week loudly proclaiming that at long last, people meters are coming to the UAE. The National covers it under the inspiring headline, “‘People meters’ coming to the UAE.” Former editor and friend of Kipp, Ben Flanagan, reports that, thanks to a new agreement, a TV audience measurement system will soon be in place across the country.

Everyone’s favourite state news agency, WAM, said: “The National Media Council, Abu Dhabi Media Company [the publisher of The National], Dubai Media Incorporated, Sharjah Media Corporation, Etisalat, du and Kantar Media have entered into an agreement regarding the development and implementation of a Television Audience Measurement (TAM) project across the UAE.”

Kipp hates to be a negative-nelly (oh alright, we love to be one) but we’re not going to be holding our breaths for this one. Yes, audience measurement would be a great thing for the advertising industry, providing far greater insight into media consumption habits and so helping companies monitor and manage their ad spend. But it hasn’t happened yet, and this isn’t the first time we’ve been told that people meters are imminent. Here’s someother occasions:

• 2007, AMEinfo says: “People meters coming to ME.” Apparently the GCC Advertisers’ Association is paying 40 percent of the $4 million needed to roll out people meters, starting in Saudi.
• 2008, Kipp’s sister title Communicate reports that people meters are a priority for regional advertisers.
• 2009, the National’s parent company, the Abu Dhabi Media Company (the same one tying up in the latest effort) announces that people meters will be in place across the country by the end of the year.

That’s just a few of the many, many people meter ambitions that have loudly been proclaimed across the Middle East in the last few years. And can you guess how much progress has been made? Not much. Now, it is true that the UAE is making slow and fairly steady progress towards meters; in 2009 a study was carried out on implementation of meters; in March this year the government approved the introduction of the technology; and now of course we have the latest announcement, which is actually pretty promising. But there are reasons it hasn’t happened, and they’re the same reasons it’s taking so long.

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