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Media audience research is about to forever change

By Erik Grimm

NDP Nieuwsmedia

Amsterdam, The Netherlands


This summer, an extraordinary request for proposal (RFP) was issued by the Dutch media industry. In this request, the wishes and requirements were set for a brand new, cross-media study called Total Media Audience Measurement (TMAM).

This study will replace all existing audience measurements. This makes the Netherlands the first country in the world to start a tender for an all-encompassing cross-media audience research.

The Total Media Audience Measurement research will provide a comprehensive overview of audience habits.
The Total Media Audience Measurement research will provide a comprehensive overview of audience habits.

Hearing, watching, reading

The new research is based on the concept of looking, listening, and reading, regardless of the media platform or channel. Regular RFPs used to be issued from separate domains such as television, radio, print, online, and outdoor. This challenge consists of one cohesive assignment with five partial contracts.

Requirements for TMAM have been collected among all parties involved in the media industry: news media, magazines, television, radio, digital platforms, advertisers, and media agencies. From this perspective, the new RFP may be ambitious, without exaggeration.

Five contracts

The main RFP covers the audience measurement of all media domains. In addition, the research agencies are asked to set up a new target audience study (contract 2). Integration of reach and contacts into one cross-media planning file is covered in the third contract. This whole new set up also requires a new media standard survey (contract 4). The fifth contract concerns harmonisation.

One important facet is how the media channels are approached. The RFP includes watching, listening, reading, and “digital.” The latter is, of course, the great instigator of all changes. The whole digitalisation and convergence issue is why the current separated studies for print, television, and radio have become obsolete. All media channels have digital touchpoints nowadays.

Four basic principles

The consequences of this holistic approach are enormous. The current television and radio research will be replaced. The same goes for print. The new method must be able to report reading, watching, and listening and include new media consuming techniques such as streaming, video on demand (VOD), subscription video on demand (SVOD), print replicas, in-app, and more.

This approach is supported by four basic principles. Research must be:

  • Cross-media with the media consumer at the centre.
  • High-quality (exceeding current standards) and GDPR compliant.
  • Future-proof with contracts for three to five years.
  • Cost-efficient. The total costs may not exceed the cost of the current surveys.

TMAM aims to report the engagement between today’s media consumers and media brands. Caught in the middle are advertisers and agencies that want to optimise the interaction between these two domains.

The goal is to report net reach and the number of contacts of covered media brands. It must report the audience across the various platforms and media brands. However, the results should also show differentiation of media consumers in viewing, listening, and reading tendencies.

Hand-picked specialists

Despite the ambitious character of the project, more than one dozen research companies have pitched for the assignments. Some of them have made proposals for all the contracts; others are interested in one or more of the specialist tasks (like data integration).

A hand-picked group of media specialists and methodologists are now studying the various proposals. The selected set-up is expected to be made public in early 2019. Until the availability of new data is made available, the existing surveys will be continued as much as possible.

About Erik Grimm

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