The future of audience measurement in Malaysia

With an expanding offering in multiple markets we spoke to Henry Tan, COO of Astro, to find out what’s next
16 February 2017
Malaysia skyline

MD APAC, Audience Intelligence

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Astro is Malaysia’s and Southeast Asia’s leading content and consumer company delivering OTT, Digital, TV, Radio and eCommerce services to 70% of TV homes (20 million individuals) in Malaysia and Brunei. Kantar has been operating a TV measurement system – DTAM – on behalf of Astro since July 2015. The service provides Astro’s advertisers and channel operators with a deep insight into audience viewing behaviour which enables them to effectively target audiences by segment, determine the best possible programming for subscribers and much more.

With an expanding offering in multiple markets we spoke to Henry Tan, COO of Astro to find out what’s next on their agenda and discuss the next measurement frontier for the region as measurement moves from TV (Television) to TV (Total Video). Nick Burfitt, MD APAC, Audience Intelligence at Kantar spoke to Henry.

Nick: Tell us about the TV measurement system we’ve set up together – what was the background to that decision?

Henry: There has been a need in the Malaysian industry for an improved and more dynamic audience measurement system for a number of years. So two years ago I said I’d put my money where my mouth is, and set up a measurement service for Astro. One year later we launched DTAM using Kantar’s expertise in measurement through return path data (RPD). I’m a strong believer that in today’s environment nothing can be perfect or complete though, and I’m aware of the challenges faced by the Malaysian industry such as the extension of viewing beyond linear programming. In my opinion it’s now time to extend our measurement service to enrich the RPD with other data sources for more robust insights.

Nick: As a media researcher I would endorse your view. We call it from TV to TV – the measurement evolution from Television to Total Video. So then, how important is it that you measure Astro on the Go and that you integrate it in with the RPD?

Henry: Very important. For too long, the whole media business has been operating in silos. We have experts in TV, radio and digital and it is crucial that they work together in the new world. Delivering campaigns across platforms is important, the sum is greater than the individual parts.

This is critical when we are looking at our key platform measurement so that it’s all encompassing. We are experimenting at the moment with ways to measure TV, Digital, Radio and even our home-shopping platform. We’re hoping to fuse them together and come up with a really intelligent data gathering system where-by we can truly understand the consumers and their path to purchase. We’d like to understand the whole Malaysian consumer market dynamics, what the key segments are, what the trigger points are, so that we can be the masters of the Malaysian consumer market place and provide sound advice to advertisers.

Nick: Does that extend to engagement and social TV?

Henry: Yes definitely, we would like the expanded system to factor in engagement. It’s an important element in the equation to understand how any given media is amplifying beyond the medium.

Nick: Focussing again on Astro on the Go metrics, and comparing this to other platforms. Do you consider Netflix to be a threat?

Henry: The Malaysian marketplace is a very colourful and complex one. So when we look at Hollywood and international English content provided by global OTT providers like Netflix, there’s only really a very small segment that are fond of such content in Malaysia. To be successful in Malaysia you really need to understand the different demographics that exist.

Malaysia is a multicultural and diversified marketplace. While Malay has the largest segment, we still need to consider the smaller ones, such as English, Tamil, Hokkien, Cantonese and Mandarin, who still demand the best content.

So for international OTT platforms it’s a difficult market to operate in, and they are aware of this. For Astro on the Go, it’s interesting to look at how much time is spent on OTT platforms. Currently the average time spent on Astro on the Go is 65 minutes a day. From what I understand some of our competitors have 25 minutes per week, so this is a very important metric to look at.

Nick: Looking to the future – 5 years or 10 years, where do you see Astro’s offer – diversifying or maintaining?

Henry: Things are changing so fast, so we always need to be looking to the future. We produce a 5-year plan which is essentially a 1 year plan. You take a 5-year horizon but you plan for the coming financial year. The reason is that everything we do is a building block towards the bigger goal. Otherwise you would run the danger of working very hard and then asking yourself, what does it all add up to? The world is changing so fast, you never can quite tell what will happen beyond three years. Where will global OTT platforms like Netflix sit in the scheme of things? Will someone else offer to buy them? What will happen with Amazon coming on board? This is another big giant that we all think will be a big disrupter in the Asian market place. But you can’t just focus on being worried about the big sharks, you also need to be worried about the small piranhas. They come along in a school and if each one takes half a percent share, and there are 50 of them, they can do some serious damage. Everyone and anyone can be a competitor, even an individual.

Nick: I’m going to end on a question that’s asked a lot these days, is TV dead?

Henry: It really depends on your definition for TV. People like this statement as it sensationalises and grabs attention. I define TV as the screen that one watches content on, so in that regard, I think TV is going places. And I believe technology has liberated content. Let’s be frank, content in the past was structured in linear format and scheduled because technology didn’t allow it to be what it should be. Each and every type of content should be treated separately. For example; you want to cook a special dish for someone from a cooking programme, so you schedule that programme on when you need to cook the dish. That’s the type of scheduling that was limited in the past because of technology. In contrast when you look at sport programming, live is absolutely critical. Sports fans don’t want to watch matches on catch up, they want to watch it live at the same time as all the other fans around the world. So you have to plan and treat live sports in this way. Live sports, cooking shows, drama series etc. all need to be treated differently. This is why technology has liberated content, all types of content, and it’s allowing them to be unique and the best they can be, to be consumed by fans in the way they should be consumed.

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