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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

First, people measurement is bad news of the media companies. Very bad news. At present they can sell ads based on their own, unverified figures. Imagine what would happen to revenue if advertisers were suddenly provided with an accurate insight into how many people each dollar really reached… The media companies have a vested interest in not measuring audiences, despite any claims they may make. There is an argument that transparency would encourage more spend, but given TV’s dominance of the ad market and huge revenue share, a decline in outlay is far more likely, as advertisers realize how much they are throwing at a single, fractured medium.

Second, people measurement is a culturally sensitive issue. This is a part of the world where most people value their privacy highly – where accidentally taking a picture with someone in the background is considered a major violation of rights. Who will welcome a box into their home that monitors everything they watch?

Third, the UAE’s population (like many in the Middle East) is one of extremely complicated demographics and is highly transient. How exactly do you get an accurate snapshot of audience habits?

These reasons have reduced the process to a crawl, to such an extent that it will soon be a pointless exercise anyway. Technology has overtaken the measurement project – a set top box cannot keep track of internet downloads and live streaming via a laptop or iPad, and these will be the viewing methods of the next decade. Throw in the youthful population (the fastest adopters of modern media trends) and you find that people meters are an increasingly obsolete system.

So, it would be nice to think it will happen (but we don’t), and even if it does it will come too late. Welcome to the Middle East.

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