With key industry players deciding to turn their informal Joint Industry Body into a formal entity called Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) with strong focus on developing new models and systems for measuring television audiences in India,L.V Krishnan, CEO of TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd is in the hot seat.
TAM Media is a joint venture between ACNielsen and Kantar Media Research/IMRB and is the source of much of the viewership data in India.
It is unclear how the new council will operate in relation to TAM Media as there is also talk of looking at new research models and companies, as well as adding more research panels and households to TAM Media’s existing peoplemeters.
A day after Mint first reported on the formation of the new body to be based on the UK’s Broadcasters Audience Research Board Ltd model owned by agencies, broadcaster and advertisers, Krishnan spoke to Mint about developments in TV/radio audience research in India. Edited excerpts:
Your response to the just-formed Barc or Broadcaster Audience Research Council?
I welcome the Barc. But, again, when you are forming a body of this kind, it is important that you back the research company involved. I have to thank the earlier body, Joint Industry Body, for they have stood by us in the toughest of times.
The AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association India), ISA (Indian Society of Advertisers) and IBF (Indian Broadcasters Federation) coming together and formalizing the body is wonderful news, but then again, I expect them to also tackle legislative issues.
It shouldn’t be that the research body is left to deal with these issues alone, when they remain larger questions for the industry.
There are a few aspects to this. Consulting the government on various issues is one. The second is funding.
When you have scientists financing their scientific projects, how long will it last? Objectives can be realized only when you have someone backing them.
Again, with rural areas, there are infrastructure difficulties. Like, many of the areas go without power.
The new association should engage in a consultative manner, on ideas to move to smaller towns and rural markets, and perhaps bring Doordarshan and the government into the fold.
I hope that this body is a roadmap for television itself, and not just for measurement.
What would you say are the milestones for TAM in India?
For one, it’s the largest peoplemeter panel in the world with 7,000-plus meters.
We are the first to have launched an elite panel, and issue findings on a continuous basis.
Today the information and understanding of TV audience behaviour is far superior here than in any part of the globe. I would also credit it to the broadcasters who are making attempts to find out what can and cannot work, in terms of content, marketing and promotions. We formed the S Group (Strategy Group) to mine data.
In no country has this data been the single source information for broadcasters.
For instance, we can pinpoint exactly how many people came and watched the promo, and how many returned to watch the content. We can show audience movements, and corelate them to changes in content.
The third is public relations measurement, where we identify and track all the PR noises made by broadcasters. For instance, the reality shows on three of the mainline TV channels, and their exposure in news capsules.
How many TV audience measurement systems can answer those kinds of questions?
There are other initiatives like helping with the media curriculum in various institutional organizations that we have tie-ups with. By 2008, we plan to take classrooms online. We took up all these initiatives not because we were told to, but because the industry needed it.
What led TAM to enter the area of radio research via the diary method (where listeners log in events instantaneously in diaries)? More so when it was pitted against MRUC’s (Media Research Users Council) research based on day-after-recall (when respondents are surveyed one day later)? Also, you seem to be facing a similar situation with radio broadcasters, as with TV broadcasters, which is immense pressure to increase area-coverage?
The important thing about the diary method in radio research is that it offers data on a continuous basis.
Earlier on, we had a chat with radio broadcasters, advertisers and media agencies and a set of questions emerged from them: How much do I invest in radio? Can I look at what competitive brands are doing on radio? Slots that they are in? Scheduling strategy on radio?
If you maintain the diary method and quality checks, you get the biggest benefits from continuous data. Before we took on RAM (Radio Audience Measurement), there were radio surveys that mainly offered the profile angle (profile of audiences).
Here, you are able to see how people move from one station to another in day-parts. Also in situations like a live relay on-air, you need continuous data.
To answer the question on greater coverage (for radio), it’s been barely few months and we have to begin somewhere. We began with Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Kolkata and Chennai are the next line. After these, we would move to the next few markets. Our aim is to cover markets that contribute to 80% of the radio revenues first.