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In order to generate effective TV advertising reports, certain information is needed. The Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board, or BARB for short, is responsible for measuring and collating television viewing figures in the UK, with such information pivotal to agencies such as Guerillascope, in the analysis of TV advertising campaigns.

The process intrinsic to the accumulation of such data centers upon a panel of 5,100 television owning homes, representative of the 26 million households in the UK. This panel is constructed based on a sample design created by RSMB, a company specially commissioned by BARB. The design is constructed to record television viewing figures that are truly representative of the UK population, meaning consequent advertising reports provide more accurate accountability.

Various individual and household panel controls are installed into the process to ensure fair representation. These are maintained through the BARB Establishment Survey, overseen by ipsos MORI, which involves approximately 53,000 interviews of randomly selected households every year. The primary objective of this survey is to ensure that BARB is continuously aware of any changes occurring in the UK populace, meaning the panel can be updated immediately to maintain the fair representation of television viewing habits.

Another function of the survey is its role in recruiting new homes for the panel. Once a household agrees to join, all television sets and general viewing equipment are fitted with a meter. This meter electronically monitors television viewing activity by recording information on the content, identifying the channel in the process, as it is viewed. Each viewer within the household must register with the meter by pressing a button assigned to them specifically on a people meter handset. By doing this, the meter can associate the content being viewed with the viewer and their surveyed information.

BARB collects data gathered from the meter second-by-second, delivering the information minute-by-minute. Every day, between 2am and 6am, all data captured is downloaded to provide overnight television viewing figures. Additionally, all television content viewed via VCR, DVDR, PVR playback and ‘catchup’ VOD platforms is reported if viewed within seven days of the original broadcast. Such data is amalgamated with live viewing figures to produce final, minute-by-minute audience viewing figures, available 8 days after the initial data capture.

The figures are corroborated with programme and commercial scheduling provided by the channels themselves, creating in-depth, official BARB audience estimates, which can then be used by the likes of Guerillascope Viewing Figures to construct effective advertising reports.