Kenya: Tifa Research pitches passive research as the next stage of understanding audience behavior – panel members no longer self-report or recall

11 September 2019

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The increase in the use of smartphones is beginning to revolutionize African TV audience research. Kenya’s TIFA Research has been pioneering passive research as a way of improving how to understand Kenya’s TV audience. Russell Southwood spoke to Maggie Ireri, Founder and Director of TIFA Research and Kelvin Masika, its ICT and Innovations Manager about what it all means.

Audience research is crucial for Africa’s broadcast industry as it is potentially a trusted way of showing to advertisers and brands who watches which channels. Few African countries are big enough economically to carry out this kind of research so the majority of TV markets work “blind”: there is a complete absence of audience information or only one-off pieces of research which are poorly trusted. So far only South Africa has TV daily audience research that allows advertisers to make decisions more rapidly based on the success of individual programs.

The table below shows the frequency and methodology of audience research used. DAR stands for Day After Recall. The diaries are seven-day paper diaries that are self-completed.

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Between 1999 and 2014 the company that is now called Ipsos was carrying out audience research using a panel who self-completed paper diaries. It then pioneered the first tech update when it rolled out a mobile app that audience panel members used for self-completion thus speeding up the data collection process. Post-digital migration, the research methodology went over to Day After Recall (DAR).

In August 2018 TIFA Research took over the Kenya Audience Research Foundation (KARF) contract and through November/December 2018 to May 2019 it developed a fully working pilot for passive research.

So how does it work? Essentially it collects respondents’ media consumption behavior using a smartphone. The advantages over DAR is that it allows real time data collection, more channel use is captured and it records all exposure to channels.

In technical terms, within earshot, the smartphone records program watching based on receiving it: an in-app database sorts out the type of content such as advertising breaks, TV series, etc. Internet connectivity is required but panel members get a data bundle to go with the app that works on the widely distributed Android 4.2+ OS. The app transmits data in the form of text files back to TIFA Research’s server. The app will record program behavior even when the panel member is offline and will update the server the next time they go online.

Its panel is based on the Establishment Survey of 2015:”Smartphones are very effective for this type of research because penetration is quite good at this point and it can record second by second what panel members are watching.” Outside of Nairobi, panel members might not have phones so TIFA Research would give them handsets and solar chargers.

The pilot had 400 panel members and was carried out in and near Nairobi. The more careful recording of audience behavior shows that panel members watched more channels than they self-recorded using DAR: an average of 5.4 radio stations and 3.2 TV stations per day. It can also identify time-shifted watching by comparing the time watched against the time broadcast. Time-shifting in the Kenyan audience might be as high as 10-15%.

The results in the graphic below show the very fragmented nature of TV watching in Kenya, a market that has had one of the longest experiences of digital transmission. Using this methodology, the gap between leader Citizen TV and other channels is still large but is actually smaller than when DAR is used. The two methodologies are not directly comparable but passive is better at capturing the full range of channels watched.

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Africa desperately needs better audience information that will allow its TV channels to grow based on accurate information. This approach offers one way of achieving highly accurate information in real time. TIFA Research would like to roll out the methodology in East Africa in countries like Uganda and Tanzania:”Kenya is always at the forefront of audience research and there are advertisers across all these markets who will be interested.”


Sub-Saharan Africa’s Broadcasting Landscape and Nine Key Markets (16 July 2019) – 20% discount to Balancing Act readers

Geopoll reportBalancing Act is pleased to announce the publication of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Broadcasting Landscape and Nine Key Markets. The report is a joint publication with one of the continent’s leading providers of mobile-based research and insights GeoPoll.

Market research data on broadcast audiences in Sub-Saharan Africa is always difficult to get and not always reliable. This reports provides key audience data for nine African markets from the very big to the much smaller. The countries covered are: Nigeria; Ethiopia; Tanzania; Kenya; DRC; Uganda; Ghana; Cameroon and Rwanda. It provides the following for each country:

- The ownership of key broadcast market leaders

- Estimated TV households

- The market share of leading channels

- The age and gender distribution of viewers

- The regional share of broadcasters’ audiences.

To put these markets into their broader context it offers the following:

- TV Households – The size of the TV market in Sub-Saharan Africa

- A Status check on DTT transition – an overview

- Liberalisation of the TV airwaves – a summary

- Potential growth factors

It also includes a description of key African broadcast trends supported by a range of data sources. For example, do you know how much time Africans in key markets spend on social media? Trends include:

- DTT – The African Multi-Channel Future

- VoD – When I want it, where I want it

- Social Media – The Battle for Attention

- Advertising and the Economic Slowdown

I’m offering a 20% discount to Balancing Act readers on the full price with report costing you GBP1,000 (Full price: GBP1250). So just click on this link for the report at the pre-publication price. If you want to talk to me about the report, WhatsApp me on +447973 561 987 to set up a time to talk.