The UAE’s television companies look set to benefit from increased spending by advertisers now that a state-of-the-art audience monitoring system has been endorsed by an independent auditor.
The TView system, which uses the People Meter monitoring technology of WPP unit Kantar Media, has been in development since 2011 and had previously failed to meet international standards in two previous audits, but has now been approved by Paris-based media auditor Centre d’Ã©tude des supports de publicitÃ© (CESP).
Kantar’s regional managing director Keld Nielsen said that given the UAE has the seventh-highest GDP per capita in the world, there has been a considerable underspend on TV advertising to date owing to the lack of reliable metrics.
“If you compare the UAE and the Middle East to the rest of the world in terms of wealth, the TV advertising spend here is remarkably lower.”
He estimates that current TV advertising spending in the UAE is about US$1 billion, but said that following the approval of TView’s methodology that he “would expect that to be twice as high”.
“You’ve seen similar growth in other parts of the world once you have gone into client measurement. The granularity of the data [means] you can get better performance from broadcasters,” he added.
The TView system monitors about 3,000 households in the UAE which have been chosen as a representative cross-sample of the country’s population. To date, its development has been funded by the UAE’s National Media Council, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Etisalat, Abu Dhabi Media (The National‘s parent company), Rotana Media and Sharjah Media.
However, now that it has been approved by CESP, Mr Nielsen said that he expected other major broadcasters, including the market leader MBC, to sign up.
“We are going to initiate talks about a wider industry committee,” he said.
He said TView gives a more accurate picture of users’ viewing habits than existing methods, which are based on computer-aided television interviews conducted with participants.
Abdulwahed Juma Al Muwalekh, the chief commercial officer at Abu Dhabi Media, said that he believed the data would create a more level playing field for broadcasters, instead of spending being concentrated among the most-watched channels.
“It will follow the content – it will not follow the brands any more,” he said.
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