Confused about the future of Australian TV ratings? Let OzTAM explain

Virtual Australia, or VOZ is Australia’s new Total TV ratings standard. Introduced in May, VOZ combines broadcaster viewing on traditional television sets, smart TVs, computers, tablets, smartphones, and other connected devices to offer a granular yet sweeping reporting metric for the Australian TV industry.

However, given its nascent status, there have been a lot of early confusion over what exactly VOZ offers, and how it works. Foxtel’s recent announcement of its own measurement system, ahead of VOZ Streaming — set to launch next year and offer a similar metric for the fast-growing streaming TV market — has added an extra wrinkle to an already complicated landscape.

Here to explain it all is Kevin Dillon, director of industry development, at OzTAM.

What was the original vision for VOZ, and why was it developed?

For many years, the OzTAM and Regional TAM viewership data products have been a primary feedstock into Australian media industry processes. They are used across brands, buyers and broadcasters to evaluate campaign and programming performance and — of course — to plan and to trade.

These products use different methods to measure audiences watching broadcast TV and those watching BVOD. Consequently, the data sets they produce are not correlated. As viewing habits changed, this ‘ships-in-the-night’ situation generated challenges for everyone involved.

Enter the VOZ vision: to construct a synthetic — or virtual — population mirroring Australia’s approximately 26 million individuals, and integrate disparate audience measurement sources to this virtual population.

VOZ is now delivering to that vision: providing audience measurement for Total TV in a single de-duplicated and truly national database. VOZ is also designed to be future-proof, and is capable of integrating any data source representing the consumption of content by Australians.

Can you break down how exactly the different viewing figures are collated, and how large the sample sizes are?

VOZ draws on three key data inputs: the Australian population, OzTAM and Regional TAM TV ratings, and BVOD viewing from OzTAM’s VPM (video player measurement) service.

The VOZ population of approximately 26 million ‘individuals’ is built from a rolling survey of the Australian population known as the Establishment Survey (ES). The ES, of 65,000+ annual respondents, provides continually updated representative estimates for OzTAM and Regional TAM TV panel services spanning age/gender and household type to the incidence of TV sets, subscription TV, digital devices, and streaming services in the home.

Daily broadcast TV viewing from 20,000 individuals in OzTAM and Regional TAM panel homes and BVOD viewing from 16 million+ unique devices in the VPM service is integrated into the VOZ population using data attribution techniques across an extensive list of household and personal attributes to deliver national, de-duplicated, all-screen Total TV audience estimates.

These data sources are complemented by streaming TV metres deployed in OzTAM panel households.

Has VOZ evolved as originally conceived, and is there anything you haven’t yet been able to implement?

VOZ has evolved to next-day overnight delivery and campaign reach and frequency analysis capability via our VOZ Portal. It will provide a comprehensive account of co-viewing to connected TVs. On an ongoing basis we will introduce further demographic attributes into the database.

VOZ is designed to be capable of measuring and reporting viewing to SVOD and non-broadcast AVOD services. While reporting of SVOD is outside the current VOZ service specifications, OzTAM is building out the enabling capture capabilities.

How would you describe the stage at which it’s currently at? What’s next?

We’re in full production. Next-day overnight data has been available daily since May this year. Our Gold Standard worked-examples ensure that the calculations performed on VOZ data are consistently applied across all analytics tools. Brands, buyers, and broadcasters can now determine the incremental reach (audience consuming broadcaster content exclusively on connected devices) that BVOD viewing delivers to broadcast TV.

Along with the Media Federation of Australia, we’re well advanced in assisting the broader industry, including media agencies and third-party software suppliers, through their transition to a VOZ Total TV currency in 2024. We’ve also announced the VOZ Streaming initiative which will bring the power of VOZ to programmatically traded BVOD campaigns.

As always, we anticipate ongoing innovation to further service emerging brand, buyer, broadcaster and content owner needs.

It’s been over five years since VOZ was first announced. The viewing ecosystem has changed dramatically since then. How has VOZ kept pace?

VOZ is a direct response to ecosystem changes and has most definitely kept pace. It is more relevant than ever in quantifying the growth of BVOD viewing incremental to broadcast TV. Anticipating future developments, VOZ has been specifically designed to integrate Australian consumption data for any content source.

What have been the biggest hurdles in bringing VOZ to fruition?

Breaking new ground is always challenging; and there were few — if any — relevant examples we could draw on from other markets. This was easily our biggest hurdle. The data-science challenges in bringing together content viewing data across disparate platforms and screens were also significant.

Engaging the marketplace as new ways of interacting commercially with Total TV emerge will offer bring further challenges and opportunities.

What took so long for such a system to be established?

VOZ is world leading. Looking beyond the local parochial commentary, it’s evident Australia is in fact ahead of the game globally. No other market has reinvented a future all-screen, cross-platform measurement currency based on a complex, changing digital world in the way Australia has. VOZ also takes into account Australia’s unique characteristics and geographic population distribution.

Has Foxtel’s announcement of its own system thrown any spanners in the works for Streaming VOZ? What are your thoughts on their plans?

We view Foxtel’s recent announcement as a next iteration of a capability they’ve always worked to provide their clients. We see it as complementary to OzTAM’s Total TV service, which is delivering audience measurement across all broadcasters — both FTA and STV — to every TV set in the home, and to all connected devices across Australia.


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