Much like several digital media experts, Rajiv Dingra, founder and chief executive of the social and digital media agency WATConsult, too, welcomed the announcement made by Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India last week.

Barc India, the television viewership monitoring body, said that it had tied up with research and information firm Nielsen for a range of digital media monitoring products that it will offer. Dingra is looking forward to a transparent digital measurement system with common metrics.

With Nielsen as its primary digital measurement partner, Barc India promises to launch a host of services under the brand name EKAM that will enable comprehensive video measurement, that is, all video (advertisements and content) played across TV and digital platforms. Initially, however, it will measure only advertising, that is, the video ad campaigns, and the services will be rolled out over a period of two years starting at the end of this year.

Barc says EKAM will allow the industry to transact on a common currency with transparency.

It is easy to see why Barc India is keen to launch its digital measurement services. The time is ripe for these services to come into the Indian market.

“The consumption on second screen is increasing. Based on forecasts in several industry reports, digital advertising is pegged to grow at 30%+ to reach about Rs9,500 crore in 2017, accounting for about 15% of total ad spend. This itself makes measuring the platform essential," says Partho Dasgupta, chief executive, Barc India.

Apart from this, globally, there has been talk about the need for a third-party digital measurement to bring in transparency and uniformity.

“Currently, different platforms have different metrics to measure performance of ads or content being aired. This does not give the advertisers the right knowledge on their RoI (return on investment)," he adds.

“Digital is a fast-growing medium and a big area for measurement. Large and small businesses as well as SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are going for digital advertising and there is a dearth of measurement in the sector right now," says Prasun Basu, president, South Asia, at Nielsen.

It is also time to look beyond the buzz around digital. It is important to measure digital media as the companies are increasingly enhancing their expenditure on the medium. Instead of the 4-5% share of the total advertising budget which they kept aside for digital, their spending on the medium now is nearly 15% on average.

“In fact, some youth-focused companies are spending as much as 30% of their total media budgets on digital. That is significant. It is no longer a 5% medium," says Basu.

Clearly, a need to measure digital has arisen as the medium has reached critical mass. Marketers need to know what is working and what is not. They need to study its effectiveness.

Basu says that when a medium gets a measurement system of its own, it starts growing.

To be sure, for the last couple of years, Nielsen was running a digital media study for its individual clients. But once the Barc-Nielsen measurement is launched, it will become an industry standard.

“Once the new measurement metrics is rolled out, it can serve 200 clients at the same time," adds Basu.

It is also a great time to launch digital measurement services as online media is growing rapidly. According to a December 2016 report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm IMRB International, the number of Internet users in India was expected to reach 450-465 million by June 2017.

The report added that the overall Internet penetration in India is currently around 31% with sufficient headroom for growth.

According to Dingra, the growth drivers for Internet adoption in India are availability and affordability of smartphones with declining rates for high-speed data. Besides, availability of content in local languages also plays a major role in the growing adoption of Internet in the country.

There’s definitely a consumer pull that is fuelling growth in online media. Local language content, access to family and friends via the Internet in addition to access to education, entertainment and even facilities like healthcare and e-commerce are major reasons for the consumer pull.

The growth is also on account of the government’s push to make India digital and encourage the use of digital payment gateways as well as the efforts of marketers to enhance the distribution of their products and services.

Clearly, the future of digital media in India is bright, and mobile will be the primary mode of digital consumption.

“Explosion of video content and multi-format content in video form will be the norm," says Dingra, adding that “technological upgradation including but not limited to automation, artificial intelligence and programmatic will result in even more accurately targeted messaging, hence increasing the digital advertising relevance."

The IAMAI-IMRB report said that urban India has close to 60% Internet penetration, but the penetration in rural India is 17%, which indicates the vast potential for growth.

“Clearly, there will be the entry of rural consumers and thereby rural-centric services and content will evolve. Besides, vernacular content platforms will also experience growth," Dingra says.

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.

Respond to this column at shuchi.b@livemint.com

Close