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MRUC launches new research method to study outdoor ads

MRUC launches new research method to study outdoor ads

Mumbai: The Media Research Users Council (MRUC), a non-profit body that conducts print readership research in India, has launched a new metric to measure the reach and effectiveness of outdoor advertising such as hoardings, potentially ending a decade-long research drought for the medium.

Its Indian Outdoor Survey (IOS) 2009 comes as a planning software that provides details on 4,500 outdoor sites in 1,000 road stretches in Mumbai based on its research.

“IOS allows advertisers to plan campaigns targeted to reach select audiences. What’s important is that the study shifts the present obsession of getting bigger discounts and cheaper rates to a more effective way of doing things," said Sabina Solomon, general manager, MRUC. “Through this study, advertisers can do campaign planning than buying specific sites."

After Mumbai, MRUC will roll out outdoor data for Pune.

Hansa Research Group Pvt. Ltd, the research body associated with IOS, interviewed 4,500 random respondents across Mumbai on their travel habits.

Pratap Bose, chief operating officer at advertising agency Mudra Group, said, “The only thing comparable to the IOS was the Oscar (Outdoor Sites Classification and Research) project. Ogilvy and Mather (Pvt. Ltd) was instrumental in setting up this research initiative but it never picked up as currency because it wasn’t a syndicated effort." But Bose added that the new study will not significantly alter revenues for the outdoor medium unless it covers more cities. “Just Mumbai and Pune is not enough."

As per Mudra Group’s estimates, the outdoor industry in India is estimated at Rs1,600 crore.

Putting together the outdoor project was a huge task for MRUC.

Arminio Ribeiro, part of MRUC’s technical committee and chief executive officer of Platinum Outdoor, a division of Platinum Communications Pvt. Ltd, said the study faced challenges from the start as the outdoor medium is not organized and keeps changing. “Lack of site-level data, non-standard site sizes, site location and address references, multiple outdoor formats, multiple media owners, types of vehicular traffic and their time-flow patterns were just some of the hurdles faced by the field team. It is a surface that IOS has just scratched," he said.

Media buying agencies such as Lintas Media Group (LMG) are optimistic about the launch of this new planning software. Lynn de Souza, chairman of LMG, says not much has been done in outdoor measurement though individual agencies have their own tools.

“The IOS has calculated visibility of the sites in a very scientific manner and then overlaid that with the travel data, which should enable planners to calculate reach" and estimate traffic for every site, she said.

One controversial information from the IOS is its claim that the audience reach of outdoor advertising is comparable with that of the print medium. The survey pegs the outdoor medium’s reach at 66% and print’s at 67%.

Bharat Kapadia, director, Lokmat Group, says it’s an over estimation to put outdoor, print and other media in the same basket.

“I don’t think that literacy levels have been taken into account for the study. In addition, there may be passers-by around the sites (hoardings) but you cannot be completely sure they have noticed the brand or the messages on the hoarding," said Kapadia. “In the IRS (Indian Readership Survey), respondents have to clearly state that they have read a publication in order for them to counted."

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