Details of ratings push unveiled

Details of ‘Project Illumination’, the long-awaited TV audience measuring initiative that is due to be launched in Saudi Arabia, have been unveiled to Campaign.

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By  Tim Addington Published  March 19, 2006

Details of ‘Project Illumination’, the long-awaited TV audience measuring initiative that is due to be launched in Saudi Arabia, have been unveiled to Campaign. The project, which is being driven by the GCC Association of Advertisers, media agencies and media owners, has been dogged by lengthy delays, with claims from some advertisers that media agencies want to wrest control of the project away from them despite publicly backing the new initiative. It is hoped that people meters — which are electronic devices that track what programmes are watched on TV — will provide effective information for planning and assessing TV advertising campaigns, as well as providing performance data for television stations. The plan is for people meters to be rolled out in Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest TV advertising market, by the end of the year, followed by the UAE and Kuwait. Project Illumination has been created to “ensure that all industry stakeholders — clients, media specialist agencies, and media owners — are all fully involved and have a true sense of co-creation of the TV people meter project,” a statement said. The management of the project has been split between two groups, the Project Illumination Governance Committee (PIGC) and the Project Illumination Board (PIB). The PIGC is made up of two advertisers, Unilever, represented by its regional chairman Jan Zijderveld, who is also the chairman of the GCCAA, and Procter & Gamble, represented by its corporate marketing director Faisal Sabzwari. OMD, represented by Elie Khouri, and Mediaedge:cia, represented by Joseph Ghossoub, make up the media agency representation. The role of the PIGC is to manage the funding of the project “responsibly and with transparency”, as well as deciding on major policy issues. The PIB has nine members representing advertisers, agencies and media owners. The GCCAA will be represented by Mike Gillam of Unilever, Faisal Sabzwari, and Abdallah Alsharif of McDonald’s. Media agencies will be represented by Elie Khouri, Matt Blackborn of Starcom and Samir Ayoub from MindShare. Media owners have yet to be appointed to the board, which will be chaired by Faisal Sabzwari. “This is a really important initiative for the industry. It is important that people start measuring the reach of TV and I want to make sure that everybody is supporting it,” said Sabzwari. Chairmanship of the PIB will rotate between the GCCAA and media agencies, with the GCCAA currently holding the casting vote. The next chairman will be elected by the PIB after the first set of data is released. PointLogic of the Netherlands has been appointed to assess and select a research company to conduct the people metering project. The PIB’s role is to ensure that PointLogic conduct its duties within budget and address the specific brief of fair and transparent research. “Our objective is to finally add more transparency in the market by shedding some light on TV audiences, their viewership patterns and get a proper grasp of their profile,” said Jan Zijderveld. “We have established a consensus and a committed working party to ensure people meters get off the ground in a way we all buy into.” It is hoped that the first data from the scheme will be available by the end of the year.

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