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BARC could consider different ratings frequencies for different genres

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MUMBAI: The long tail gets an unfair deal – be it in television viewership ratings, print media readership surveys or radio audience research.  The long tail, in marketing, refers to the large number of products and services that are not consumed by the masses, like niche television channels and specialised publications.

The small number of television channels or print publications that are consumed on a large scale always get more than their fair share in the audience or readership measurement systems.

This was the general consensus at a panel discussion on “Measurement Miasma, TVTs, Readerships, Clicks and Such: The Great Love/Hate Epic” on the concluding day of the FICCI Frames 2014 on Friday.

Not all measurement currencies can have the same frequencies, said Provocateur Advisory Principal Paritosh Joshi, who anchored the discussion. The results of measurement currencies are just data points.

The need for different frequencies for measurement currencies was felt as different products have different consumption patterns.

This prompted Entertainment Network India’s  Executive Director & CEO Prashant Panday suggest that the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) consider different frequencies for different genres of television channels.

Broadcast Audience Research Council CEO Partho Dasgupta responded by saying that BARC may look at having different frequencies for different genres.

So, when BARC launches its television ratings service towards the end of 2014, we could see only the ratings for larger genres like the general entertainment channels (GECs) being released on a weekly basis and for the niche television channels less frequently.

“We are trying to go beyond” (what the TAM Media Research provides). We will have different kinds of products and different slices,” elaborated Dasgupta.

HDFC Life Sr Executive VP Sanjay Tripathy said there was a problem with TAM ratings because the sample size was not appropriate.

He said research may not always give the right results and the advertisers need to tell the broadcasters that the measurement data is just a reference point.

Pandey told the audience that they had two researches on radio audience in Delhi and the audience size put out by the two researches was hugely divergent. One research said the audience in Delhi is forty lakh and the other said it is over one crore.

He said in television, 95 per cent of the channels are small and not captured correctly and that advertisers should be demanding better currencies.

Google India  Director, Agency Business, Punitha Arumugam said there is a need for external validation of the result of any measurement currency.

The discussion veered around the futility of validating the process of a measurement currency and that the validation should be of the result of the measurement currency. The result of a measurement currency should be explainable with external data.

One of the panelists said when BARC issues its first ratings, and Star Plus, the undisputed number one channel under the current ratings currency, does not turn out to be the number one, there could be criticism of the ratings results. Star which is a member of BARC may decide  to disagree.

HDFC Life’s Tripathy said advertisers need some data to justicy. “We spend so much.”

In early days of television there was just Doordarshan and then came Zee. It was easy to choose the channel to advertise on. Today there are more than 200 channels.

Tripathy said, “Media habits have now fragmented. We will have to chop… We will try to reach the target audience in the cheapest way.”

There is also the issue of who will invest in a measurement system that will give the best measurement results. Partho said the cost of a television currency is mainly split between the broadcasters and advertisers.

The need for a measurement currency is felt by everyone in the entire value chain across television, print and radio. Everyone in the value chains need to share the costs of robust measurement systems.

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