One of the region’s largest broadcasters has thrown its support behind the Abu Dhabi Media Company’s (ADMC) push to introduce people meters to the UAE television market.
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Sharif Badneddine, commercial director for MBC, which operates two of the country’s most popular pan-Arab channels MBC 1 and 2, said the new system would create greater transparency when dealing with advertising clients.
“Unfortunately, our popularity among viewers has not been realised in a monetary sense, because our advertising clients aren’t buying into the existing audience measurement systems,” he conceded.
“Currently, we don’t have a solid, failsafe approach to audience measurement because there is skepticism surrounding the existing data. Every time we have to change or fix advertising rates for certain programmes we are flooded with queries from clients questioning our basis for doing so.
“We are committed to doing whatever is required to ensure people meters become a reality.
“With similar initiatives taken elsewhere in the region, we haven’t missed the opportunity to get involved and contribute funding, contribute knowledge and commit to whatever contribution it takes to make it happen.”
Implementations of the people meter television audience measurement method have been propagated in other MENA markets recently, but have met with widespread criticism.
The launch of a people meter service in Saudi Arabia has been frequently discussed but is yet to come to fruition, while a Moroccan service, which was launched this year, has met with criticism from many pan-regional broadcasters.
“Unfortunately, the Moroccan system is designed in such a way that it will only tell you about the local channels,” said Badneddine. “You see the local channels occupying about 35-40 percent of viewer statistics, but the remaining 60% of international channels are put down as ‘others’”.
“MBC 2 is the number three channel in Morocco and MBC 4 is the number four channel, but of course this isn’t reflected in the people meter results.
“This provides another example of local performance data that we can’t leverage into monetary returns in local markets.”
Badneddine revealed that the overwhelming majority of MBC’s advertisers are based in Saudi Arabia.
He says that as the region’s largest television market, the introduction of people meters in the Kingdom would have a much more dramatic impact on the revenues of local broadcasters.