Mumbai: In a boost to publishing houses and advertisers, the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) report on trends in print media consumption will be released on a quarterly basis—instead of biannually—from April.
Increased frequency would reflect changes in the readership of newspapers and magazines more accurately, said Bharat Kapadia, vice-chairman of Media Research Users’ Council (MRUC), a non-profit organization that conducts and validates the survey.
“Changes would be gradual and noticeable, unlike the sweeping changes of the biannual format,” said Kapadia, who is also director of media house Lokmat Group.
The IRS report is crucial for stakeholders in the print media industry because nearly Rs10,000 crore worth of advertising depends on its findings, according to Mona Jain, chief operating officer of VivaKi Exchange, the centralized buying unit of French advertising and communications company Publicis Groupe SA.
“There’s so much of money riding on print. Out of the total ad expenditure (in all media), estimated at Rs22,000 crore a year, print commands an at least 46% share. We are obviously concerned about print’s return on investment,” Jain said, adding that the quarterly format would enable buyers of advertising space review deals better and look at long-term trends.
“Buyers can now validate claims made by publishers; there would be cold figures to prove those,” said Janardan Pandey, business director of Mudra Group’s media specialist agency Radar.
Other media, such as television, have already shifted to more frequent viewership research, and the IRS moving to quarterly reports was expected. This would particularly benefit new publications that need to track their growth.
The new time frame will also allow print media companies that publish quarterly financial results to assess their numbers more meaningfully.
“Earlier, the survey results were dated by the time they were out. With more frequent data, buyers as well as publishers will be able to make out long term trends, as is the case with television,” said Rahul Kansal, chief marketing officer, Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd, which publishes The Times of India.
But Paresh Nath, publisher at the New Delhi-based magazine publishing house Delhi Press Pvt. Ltd, does not view the quarterly survey as offering a major advantage for anybody.
“It won’t radically alter things for publishers. The most read publications are the not the most advertised-in,” he said. “If anything, the disputes over readership figures would happen four times a year,” he added.
There will be no change in the sample size of the survey.
Suresh Nimbalkar, vice-president at Hansa Research Pvt. Ltd, which conducts the survey for MRUC, said the annual cost of bringing out the IRS report may go up by 20% because of the increased frequency. Currently, the IRS costs nearly Rs8.5 crore a year to publish.