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Audience Measurement

The building blocks of economic, social and environmental impacts are understanding and quantifying the audiences that engage with an event, either as spectators attending at the event, or watching or following through different forms of media. It is critical to measure audiences correctly, as many other measurements are based on these figures.

To understand and meaningfully measure impacts, data of these audiences also need to be broken down into characteristics relevant to different types of impact. For example, public stakeholders may be particularly interested in achieving social impact on young people or those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Or seek the highest possible economic impact from large audiences from visitors attending from ‘out of town’.

1. Profile

Understanding audience profile data can influence other elements of impact evaluation, such as the extent of participation by specific target groups. Measuring this may then allow comparisons against local or national averages, or benchmarks from other events.

Understanding types of audiences relating to how social and economic impacts are achieved can also help with targeting communications prior to, during, and after the event.

a. Demographic Segmentation

Gathering event audience data via common research categories helps to determine any causal link between the event and a specific impact. Researchers typically gather population data by:

• sex
• age
• social grade
• disability
• ethnicity
• educational attainment
• employment status

b. Geography

Applying an understanding of target socio-demographic characteristics to geographic areas can help target public engagement activity and related programmes to influence social impacts. For example, creating free side-events in areas of highest impact.

In addition to helping assess social impacts, understanding attendee place of residence is a significant factor in assessing economic impact. Economic impact can be calculated for different boundaries of ‘host economy’, for example a city, region or country. Therefore, understanding specifically:

• local – within ‘host economy’ boundaries
• national – outside the ‘host economy’ but within the host country (as known as ‘domestic’)
• international – outside the host country

2. Size

a. Attendance

Attendance includes both spectators and participants involved in the event, whether athletes, performers, support staff, media, sponsors, officials or volunteers. Categorising attendees in this way can help when measuring other impacts that assess the behaviour of different groups at the event.

Whilst overall total attendance figures are used for public relations, calculations of unique spectators and event participants broken down by geographic origin are required for assessing economic impact.

Calculating attendance for ticketed events can be relatively easy using ticket data, however for multi-day or multi-session events, a calculation needs to be made to take account of repeat spectators over the period of the event. Allowances may also need to be made for the variance between tickets sold and actual attendance at the venue.

Calculating attendance for free non-ticketed events is much harder to produce accurate data, and at risk of producing exaggerated estimates leading to exaggerated estimates of benefit. Methodologies, such as the ‘no-stadium methodology’, can be used to estimate the size of crowds aligning barriers. In this case samples of crowd density and depth at certain points, where possible using overhead film footage, can be applied to the full footprint of the event, for example a parade route of a certain length. A useful step-by-step guide to crowd counting is also available via the Event Economics website.

Data from non-ticketed events also needs to be deduplicated to take account of when a spectator may have seen the same event more than once, for example during a long- distance running or cycling event.

b. TV & Digital Audience

The media landscape is changing rapidly with increasing use of digital channels and strategies to broadcast “over the top” (OTT) of traditional television, however the largest audiences of major events are often still through TV.

There are well established methods for measuring TV audiences used by the broadcasting industry however much of this is tailored to the commercial advertising industry. In many countries there is an official source of data which produces audited results, however when reported on a global level the data can be aggregated in a way than can be misinterpreted. Sophisticated audience data can also be costly to gather therefore not all the data referred to below is always available for an event.

Many figures are reported as an average of the number of viewers watching over the duration of a programme, however more sophisticated data can breakdown the viewing periods to show the number of viewers for small periods throughout the programme (for example periods of 3 minutes). In these cases a peak TV audience figure can be reported.

Audience reports often aggregate viewing of all programming by TV broadcast takers, whether live, delayed/repeat or highlights programming, into one cumulative TV audience figure. Where more than one programme is shown per event (for example where an event is staged over more than one day) the data needs to be deduplicated to establish the figure of unique TV viewers. Whilst the data can be less easy to gather, cumulative TV audience figures can also include coverage from news or magazine programming, explained further in the section on News and Social Media.

Sometimes events report potential TV audience reach in terms of individuals or households, which is the maximum number of possible viewers if everyone watched the programming when broadcast. This can be very far from the real unique TV audience, particularly where programming is shown at a time of day when very few people are watching. Also, some TV broadcaster takers may not actually broadcast any event programming.

Due to the complexity of gathering actual audience data, some broadcasters and events prefer to use TV broadcast hours as the means to express the extent of event coverage due to its relative accuracy and comparability. Broadcasters can also express audiences in terms of the share of viewers watching at the time when the event is televised.

Either in addition to, or in place of, traditional TV broadcasts there may be digital streaming of live coverage, or selected highlights of, an event. There are counters of ‘views’ on online platforms but this can include viewings by the same person multiple times and therefore not comparable to unique TV audience data. Tools such as Google Analytics can establish measures of individuals digitally engaging with an event such as unique website users and data gathering for online content is evolving, as referred to in the section on Social Media.

c. Social Media

Detailed assessments of TV news coverage can be costly, particularly if it goes beyond the period of time when the event is being held. Whilst potentially valuable due to the relatively large audiences that are watching, the time for meaningful engagement is much less than dedicated programming.

News audiences can also include print and online media articles, potentially include the period of time in the build-up to an event and the immediate period afterwards. There are research organisations that provide media monitoring for the volume of articles and their value, but whilst the coverage can be quantified alongside TV audiences in terms of Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) it cannot be expressed in terms of unique audience. Also, AVE is a measure of the equivalent cost of buying media space, rather than the actual value to the event hosts or event-owners, which is explained further in the Image section.

Whilst not a measure of audience, an indication of relative popularity of an event is the number of accredited media at an event.

For social media, an event’s ‘reach’ can be quantified according to the number of followers and connections gained by an event’s social media accounts, for example Facebook fans, Twitter followers and Instagram followers. Analytics tools can also break down the reach of individual social media posts into categories of organic, viral and paid reach.

Social media impressions are the aggregate possible views of content, which is similar to potential TV reach in being an exaggerated indicator of actual audience engagement. Also due to the multiple content and multiple channels in a similar way to news articles, impressions cannot be deduplicated to establish a unique audience figure and therefore tend to result in very large numbers.

Social media engagement measures provide deeper insights into the actual involvement of social media audiences. These can include engagement rate measuring the proportion of followers who ‘like’ or ‘share’ specific posts or click-through rate measuring the proportion of message recipients following links to other content. Software tools have also been developed to measure social media sentiment.

3. Glossary of Terms

Social Grade
System of classifying population data used by statisticians and marketeers. Specific classifications may vary between countries – the United Kingdom uses six categories of the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) produced by the Office for National Statistics (A, B, C1, C2, D, E).
Host Economy
The geographical area under consideration for economic impact assessment. The criteria used to define the host economy will usually vary based on the scale of the event and the agency responsible for commissioning the research.
Method of eliminating duplicate data, for example taking into account repeat spectators during the period of an event.
Event participants (or ‘non-spectating attendees’)
People with a specific involvement in the event other than to spectate, such as athletes, team officials, support staff, technical officials, organising and venue staff, media, VIP guests, sponsors and volunteers. Often classified as ‘accredited participants’ at major events and can also include mass participants in mass participation events.
No-stadium methodology
A method of estimating attendance at an event that takes place at a venue other than a stadium or other clearly enclosed space. Reference types/attendance/content/calculating-attendance-numbers/basic-measures “For example, if organisers claimed that an event attracted 100,000 spectators around a 1km course, it would be reasonable to expect crowd densities of around 25 deep on both sides of the road.”
Repeat spectators
Spectators present on more than one session of an event (including free side-events).
Repeat attendance factor
The average number of sessions attended by each event participant or spectator (gathered from research for each type of attendee, such as ticketing data or spectator survey).
Total attendance
The total number of event participants and spectators (cumulative across all days and/or sessions of the event) whether that be in-venue or free side-events.
Total spectator attendance
The cumulative total number of spectator attendances at any session, whether that be in-venue or free side- events.
Unique spectators
Unique individuals spectating at an event, taking into account (deduplicating) repeat spectators. This can be calculated by dividing the total spectator attendance by the repeat attendance factor for spectators.

TV & Digital Audience
Cumulative TV audience
All programme average audiences in all markets, summed up.
“Over the Top” content made available directly to users digitally rather than through traditional media.
Peak TV audience
Highest number of people who have tuned in to a piece of dedicated TV coverage of an event for a set period of time (most commonly, at least 3 consecutive minutes).
Potential TV audience reach
The maximum number of viewers for an event. This is expressed as the number of individuals or households that can access the rights holding channels in each market where the event is being aired.
Proportion of viewers of a dedicated TV coverage compared to all TV viewers at the time of the programme.
TV broadcast takers
TV channels (either Free-to-Air or Pay TV) broadcasting coverage of the event, set in specific geographical territories (country or continent).
TV broadcast hours
Number of hours of coverage of an event aired. All individual broadcaster totals added together.
TV hours viewed
Total number of broadcast hours consumed by the audience. Calculated by multiplying the audience (millions) by the duration of the broadcast. Calculated on a programme by programme basis in each market.
Unique TV viewers / Reach (also referred to as ‘audience reach’ or ‘unique reach’)
The total, unduplicated, number of people who have tuned in to event programming for a set period of time (most commonly, at least 3 consecutive minutes).
Unique website users
Unique individuals visiting a website, taking into account (deduplicating) repeat visits and visits to more than one page.
Website pageviews
The cumulative number of views of a page on a website.

News & Social Media
Accredited media
Officially accredited media at an event, whether print, online or TV broadcast media.
Advertising Value Equivalent
The value of media time or space for a distinguishable image or name (e.g. brand logo or venue) expressed in monetary value based on the equivalent cost of buying that time or space on each media channel (e.g. TV or online).
The action of an online user following a hypertext link contained within an online message or post.
Organic reach
The number of unique users that received a post on their social media newsfeed.
Paid reach
The number of unique users that received a social media post through an advertisement.
Social media engagement
Action taken by social media users resulting from viewing posts, such as ‘like’, comment, share or click to open a link or picture.
Social media impressions
The number of times content is displayed on individual social media news feeds, irrespective of whether or not it has been viewed.
Social media sentiment
Tone of conversation and emotional response to social media posts, usually measured as either positive, negative, or neutral.
Viral reach
The number of unique users that received a social media post shared by a friend.


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