New Delhi: The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an industry body tasked with introducing a new television audience measurement system, has shortlisted five media research agencies to advise it on the technology required to put in place an accurate and reliable system.
The agencies are Kantar Media, Nielsen India, Civolution, Cross-Tab and DA Media, a BARC executive said.
Interestingly, TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, the existing television viewership monitoring agency criticized by broadcasters for alleged data discrepancies, has not made it to the shortlist.
For the past 15 years, advertising expenditure on television has been decided on the basis of data provided by TAM Media Research. According to estimates by media agency GroupM , Rs. 16,525 crore worth of advertising on Indian television channels in 2012 was decided on the basis of TAM audience measurement numbers.
A TAM Media Research spokesperson said the company had not bid for the technology mandate. But the BARC executive cited above said TAM submitted a common bid for the technology and research parts of the business, although the industry body had in June issued two separate requests for proposal (RFPs).
One RFP sought proposals on the research method—comprising audience estimation, sample selection, data capture and analysis, and delivery in a user-friendly format. The other asked for bids on the most optimal technology available, including equipment that can capture data across broadcast mechanisms, and dissemination of data to users.
BARC was set up by the three key stakeholders in television audience measurement—broadcasters, advertisers, and advertising and media agencies. They are represented by their respective bodies—the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, the Indian Society of Advertisers and the Advertising Agencies Association of India.
In India, TAM Media Research is a joint venture between Kantar Market Research and Nielsen (India) Pvt. Ltd.
The BARC executive, who did not want to be identified, said the response to RFPs—an invitation to potential bidders to indicate their interest in securing the mandate and the potential cost of the project—had been encouraging. Some 28 Indian and global agencies bid for the technical and research mandates.
“The process of evaluation is on and the shortlisted companies meet the basic parameters of our requirements. However, it is too premature to share further details,” the executive said.
Media website Best Media Info first wrote about the BARC shortlist of bidders for the technology business on Friday.
Paritosh Joshi, a member of the technical committee of BARC, said he was in no position to either confirm or deny the names of the shortlisted companies. “While it is true that the technical evaluation has been completed and there has been good participation by the companies in the bidding process, we are bound by a non-disclosure agreement and cannot share any details,” he said.
The list of companies shortlisted by the technical committee has to be presented to the BARC board in September. “There is so much more left to be done. It is really work in progress,” Joshi added.
Netherlands-based Civolution is a technology and service provider for identifying, managing and monetizing audio and video media content. The firm offers patented solutions for protection of digital audio and video, pay television and other media. It also offers broadcast monitoring, Internet and radio tracking services.
DA Media is a Finland-based entity. Kantar Media, owned by media conglomerate WPP, is strong in television audience measurement in Europe. Cross-Tab is a Bangalore-based marketing services firm offering research and data analytics solutions to clients.
Nielsen is strong in audience measurement in the US. In India, Nielsen works in research across sectors such as consumer products, retail and media.
Civolution, DA Media, Kantar and Cross-Tab could not be immediately reached for comment. Nielsen declined to comment on grounds of confidentiality.
Although BARC had promised to put in place an alternative to TAM’s audience measurement system in a year’s time, the bids for the market research part of the business are yet to be shortlisted.
The BARC executive cited above said the research bids were for “ridiculously high” amounts, without specifying figures. He added that the research mandate may take longer to be awarded as BARC may first ask the shortlisted entities for pilot studies before selecting the winning bid.