BARC begins nationwide roadshow with Bengaluru

BENGALURU: In what was the first of four to five open houses that BARC intends to hold in India, the apex body shared details about the way forward at Bengaluru last week. Principal Provocateur/Advisor Paritosh Joshi, who represents the broadcasters interests in the 12 member technical committee on BARC spoke at length about the council’s plans on the new audience measurement system. In attendance were about 100 professionals from the broadcast and ad ecosystem, and BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and VP Mubin Khan.


Some of the points that were clarified at the Bengaluru Open House include:


For what is said to be the largest tender ever floated for audience measurement anywhere in the world, BARC has received expressions of interest from significantly big technology companies that wish to be a part of the tender. The tender terms state that each vendor would have to work with whomsoever BARC wants it to work with. "Since multiple vendors are likely to be involved, system integration was crucial and there was a possibility of a blame game when something didn’t work out," Joshi said, explaining why BARC will play a pivotal role.


Of the 32 expressions of interest, 27 companies from across the world had been asked to submit proposals. Because of the huge diversity of devices on which television style content could be consumed, TV content was now more and more agnostic to screen as well as time. Consumption of TV and television type content was not only being space-shifted, but also time-shifted. BARC has made it clear in its RFPs’ that it wanted a screen and technology agnostic measurement.


BARC expects to complete the awarding of contracts by end September or early October and the new ratings system could be out by the summer of 2014.


Value added reselling of data is another possibility for the future. As much of the process that can be automated will be automated - simply because BARC wants to minimise human intervention.


The ratings body has not yet fixed periodicity of dispensing data because it would vary within the structure of the sample. Joshi explained, "Based on the current situation and sample size, probably getting weekly data is all that could be possible initially. This is not an emotive issue of weekly, fortnightly or quarterly reporting, BARC would look at the data and decide. It must be remembered that the higher the frequency that one seeks, the larger the sample size must become to be able to find statistically significant sized audiences. BARC recognises that there are some channels that we cannot report on a weekly basis, and so these channels could be reported quarterly, BARC will give unduplicated quarterly reach since there is no other number available for these channels."


Explaining how BARC picked up the establishment study size, Joshi said, "The most critical element of an audience measurement system is defining the establishment and the way people and the type of people (the consumer classification) who consume television. The establishment study which is already in the field will help BARC to prioritise and enable it to determine the segments of the population that are important and cannot be missed. To pick up a sampling size of 2.4 lakh for the establishment study, BARC used the census of India and electoral rolls, since there was no other database available, maybe in the future Aadhar could be used to provide a sampling frame. The establishment study will essentially run continuously, BARC will be able to re-estimate the underlying universe with far higher frequency than has probably been done until now."


"One of the big things that BARC is working with the RFPs is that it is defining what the relative error is, what the confidence is. Today the stakeholders are not aware about what the relative errors or the confidence of the numbers are. They are working with the numbers as if they were the absolute truth, which they aren’t. BARC will define the statistical boundaries within which the numbers are to be interpreted. Numbers that don’t fall within those bounds will not be reported," said Joshi.


Clarifying the role of the technical committee, Joshi said, "Besides evaluation of the proposals for the new audience measurement system, the BARC technical committee will carry out due-diligence exercises on a regular basis once data starts flowing. Since audience measurement research is not stationary, it is evolving continuously, the technical committee will drive the evolution."


"The technical committee is autonomous of the BARC board. The BARC board cannot decide what the technical committee does. The technical committee decides what the research needs. For the board to override a decision that the TechCom has made requires it to have a 75 per cent majority. 60 per cent of the voting share at BARC is with the broadcasters and 20 per cent each with the advertisers and the agencies," explained Joshi further.


Throwing light on what the BARC was not, Joshi said, "People somehow feel that BARC will replace TAM. That now you have TAM and later you’ll have BARC. TAM Media is a for-profits research venture. In the current scheme of things it is a vendor owned vendor managed system. We don’t know much about establishment study that they do, they do issue a summary every year, but they don’t tell you the details of the study. BARC is not a research company and it will never be a research company. It is a joint industry body that will be designing, commissioning, supervising and owning India’s broadcast audience research. That does not mean that it will be conducting that research itself. BARC commissions research which means that somebody else will actually conduct it. Therefore BARC is not a replacement of TAM. TAM could be potentially a vendor to BARC as could be a whole series of other kinds of companies and various other sorts of entities."


Sharing details about the new systems that were in place globally, Joshi said, "In the UK and some European countries, Canada and US, in Japan inventory is being sold on the basis of VOSDAL+7 (Viewed on Same Day as Live) - seven days of audience data are cumulated to actually determine the ratings for a show and this will grow as currency in other parts of the world. So you’re not only measuring the primary TV consumption, but also in all other forms. BARC may not be able to measure it at the start, but it should be able to do so in a year and a half from now."

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