aMAP claims to offer myriad ways to track audience groups

MUMBAI: Ratings data the next day. That is the advantage that Audience Measurement and Analytics (AMA), which in June announced the launch in India of aMap, Asia's first online television ratings system, is promising to provide broadcasters and advertisers.

The technology for aMap, a system its promoters state is being used in eight countries across Europe, has been sourced from Telecontrol AG a Swiss company. People meter inventor and founder of Telecontrol Professor Matthias Steinmann was in the city today to explain the "revolutionary new ratings system".

Steinmann asserted that a solution using different methods was needed in these days of changing technologies and viewer lifestyles. "We can measure all television including video games in any environment whether it is CAS, DTH or broadband. We are also able to deal with a common problem being faced of audience fragmentation. We offer a 360 degree solution," Steinmann said.

AMA officials claim that through this system you can automatically measure what even Indians in New Jersey watch for instance. All you need to do is define the sample base, instal the peoplemeters and then make the calls accordingly. Actual physical presence is not needed.

Till date a total of 1,000 people meters have been installed in the three cities of Mumbai (400), Delhi (400) and Ahmedabad (200). The plan is to increase that number across the country to 20,000 over the next couple of years. It uses the GSM network to collect data. Every morning between 2 am and 4 am a cellular call is placed to the GSM modem that has been installed in the meters. The central server collects the data. It is then available online for the clients that same day. For instance yesterday c&s4+ while Star Plus was ahead of Sony from 6:30 pm - 11pm the two of them were close in the 7-9 pm slot.

AMA managing director Ravirathan Arora explained that this was possible as there were over 20 audience metrics available. "We can build up the viewer profile for a client. We can tell someone the viewing habits of a house with three children or a home where the housewife is aged 25-35 and speaks English fluently. We can tell the client the viewing pattern of someone with a car and a washing machine.

Since live data is continuously being fed into the box. We can even tell the advertisers how many viewers were still tuning in to Sunday's cricket match after Sachin got out. In fact doing this in real time is one of the

possibilities we would look at going forward.

"It is a researcher's delight as audience groups can be sliced and diced in myriad ways. Every year Rs 4500 crores (Rs 45 billion) is spent advertising on television. Very often spends are made on blind faith. The risks are too high. Therefore we are confident that due to the greater accountability we bring, in we will be able to eliminate at least some of the risk. We are offering the broadcasters our services at an introductory price of Rs 200,000 per month. We can collect data on an individual basis and on a home basis."

AMA CEO Tapan Pal claimed that there were several checks in place. "For instance if a home has been tuned to Zee TV for five straight hours then something is wrong. In all likelihood nobody but the dog is watching. The people are probably doing something else. Similarly if a house has small children and Aastha is switched on at 6 in the morning then that could again be an anomaly. We can also measure how many people in a household view a programme. We will also be able to tell the client as to how many people viewed a show for the ten minutes at a stretch."

Pal expressed confidence that aMap would find favour within the industry and there would a two branding systems in place. "When DD ruled the airwaves how many people felt that Zee would be able to make a major

impact? Similarly new technology, if it is good enough, can make people switch over. We will also be coming out with a prediction model in the near future. This will help the agencies have more confidence when spending their clients money."

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