Opinion | Making inroads into media measurement
Zapr, backed by Flipkart and 21st Century Fox, is looking to launch a slew of services to complement its TV consumption study
Up until now only your TV consumption habits were being mapped, whether by the established viewership measurement agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India or other younger ad tech firms. Now one such ad tech firm is capturing data on your cinema viewing too. If you are watching a film in a theatre, an app on your phone (the mobile phone has to be switched on, of course) will understand what you are watching. This is one of the new services that’s been launched by Zapr, a Bengaluru-based firm that started operations in 2012. An earlier column mentioned its skills in capturing TV commercials and content through the same technology. Akin to the Shazam app acquired by Apple, Zapr’s technology is also based on audio content recognition which is used to detect the media consumption behaviour. Now it wants to study this behaviour across media.
So Zapr, backed by Flipkart and, more lately, 21st Century Fox which acquired a significant minority shareholding in the company last year, is looking to launch a slew of services to complement its TV consumption study. To map cinemagoers, it has tied up with film studios for their new movies. “Films do digital promos on Facebook and YouTube. No one tells them who saw the promos and who went to see the films. We have the technology,” says Amit Gupta, India head (strategy, delivery and operations) at Zapr.
As the company also maps TV consumption behaviour, it can tell if the person, who is currently watching a new Shah Rukh Khan film in the theatre, also watched other SRK movies on TV earlier. There are other things that Zapr can do. It can find if you watched the promos of a new film on a TV channel and then watched the film in a theatre, thus counting conversions.
Beyond cinema, Zapr is also eyeing a new service in radio. Currently it is conducting a pilot study on five radio stations in Bengaluru. The service will eventually be rolled out in other cities as well. With that, the company will be able to build your media profile by studying the consumption habits across TV, radio and cinema.
Currently, Zapr works with 650 TV channels across genres. More recently, it worked on a project where it helped an entertainment channel understand its viewer profile for a dance reality show. “We helped the broadcaster figure out what else do consumers of dance reality shows watch on TV. So if they have to be shown promos of the new show, what are the right places to do so. Besides, the user base of reality show watchers was exposed to a digital campaign on their mobiles,” says Gupta.
He adds that when the show was launched, Zapr tracked conversions—that is, how many of those exposed to the promos came back to see the show. “We tracked them over the duration of the show as well—how many dropped off and at which stage.” Gupta says the exercise helped the channel trace the journey of a viewer at an individual level. “It wasn’t aggregate data, it was user level data,” he adds.
Zapr embeds its technology in apps—70 at last count—which are across video streaming, gaming, news and utility. First the company takes permission to embed its technology in these apps and then these apps seek the consumers’ nod to study their media consumption. Basically, if your mobile phone is near you when you are consuming TV, radio or cinema, it captures the data through these apps. Currently, Zapr tracks 40 million devices that have these apps. That number was 20 million two years ago.
This 40 million sample size is not selected by Zapr. It is a default sample size based on people who have chosen to download one of the apps.
However, Gupta says that these 40 million people are from both big and small towns. “One-third of this base comes from rural India,” he adds. Through the sample size, Zapr is able to build profiles of media consumers such as music buffs, sports fans and news enthusiasts.
Lastly, it also wants to map the viewership of digital video streaming sites such as Hotstar and Netflix. However, while mapping linear TV or cinema is easier owing to limited content, “video streaming is another ball game as it is hours and hours of content. You have to map it on a real-time basis. Mapping such a huge repository of content is a complex problem. We are stepping towards it but have not yet solved it”, says Gupta.
Shuchi Bansal is Mint’s media, marketing and advertising editor. Ordinary Post will look at pressing issues related to all three. Or just fun stuff.