Interview with TAM S-group director Atul Phadnis

"TAM India has used the power of the net to empower the industry"


For nearly two years, TAM India S-Group director Atul Phadnis has been spearheading TAM India‘s initiatives that enable the "ratings firm" to go beyond its brief. Phadnis has contributed tremendously in bringing a global perspective to the ‘Indian world of television ratings‘. He has been in the forefront of ensuring that he shared learnings from international markets while emphasising his organisation‘s commitment of raising the bar of Indian media environment.

Phadnis, who has worked in several top agencies such as The Media Edge, MindShare and Starcom, says that the Strategy cell of TAM India is dedicated to providing customised and knowledge-based solutions towards all spectres of television. "The emphasis is to raise the bar; challenge ourselves; and develop new emerging sciences and tools," he adds.

Totally at ease with his new-found status as a media and advertising celebrity (look at the articles he has authored or the number of times he has been quoted in media), Phadnis is always the first the acknowledge the efforts of his team - 24 executives who sit in Vadodara and others in various TAM India branch offices.

Phadnis spoke to‘s Ashwin Kotian about the recent initiatives taken by TAM. Excerpts:


TAM India has undertaken several initiatives in a bid to go beyond being merely perceived as a ratings agency. What is the rationale behind such moves?

We cater to diverse clients and customers. The requirement of advertisers is different from that of the ad agencies or that of the broadcasters. There are divisions even within the sections - for instance MNC advertisers have different needs whereas large Indian advertisers have their individual priorities. Similarly, the larger broadcasters have different needs as compared to those catering to niche audiences. In order to reach out to these discerning clients and customers, we have been making several efforts to remain top of mind. Also, we have to undertake initiatives to fulfill our obligations as a responsible corporate citizen.


Give us some examples of the activities that have been undertaken?

TAM India has used the net more effectively in recent months. We have used the power of the Internet to empower the industry constituents. As part of the recent ‘Round-the-clock‘ 24*7 service,we have provided detailed instruction manuals and tutorials on the TAM India website (

We have structured the tutorials in an easy to understand format - with step by step instructions; presentations and sampling methodologies amongst others. In fact, the website is also a valuable source of information related to other issues - research papers on the conditional access system (CAS); planning issues or consumer trends amongst others. Critical documents release by us - for instance Peoplemeter Update I and II; forays into newer markets - have been shared with premiere websites such as amongst others.

The analysis undertaken by us is also disseminated in media vehicles (print, electronic and online). It is also sent to our database as newsletters. In fact, during the service tax issue in 2002, we provided constant updates and daily reports to AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India).

In the past few months, this cell has provided a new fillip to the television industry with a number of new products, a few of them being:

· TAM plan Audits

· Promo Tracking

· Plan Diffusion

· Optimisers

"With the objective of providing innovative solutions, TAM Adex has initiated,for the first time in India, a scientific approach into the measurement of non TVC‘s such as In-Stadia advertising for major sports, events and In-Programme advertising"

Tell us about TAM Adex?

We have always taken risks to explore uncharted territories. In addition to measurement, TAM‘s recent foray into monitoring services of Press and TV has given us a unique opportunity for integrating measurement and monitoring under a single roof.

An ISO 9001 certified service, TAM Adex monitors over 550 products and 85,000 brands every minute for 365 days thereby providing the largest monitoring repository in India. With the objective of providing innovative solutions, TAM Adex has initiated,for the first time in India, a scientific approach into the measurement of non TVC‘s such as In-Stadia advertising for major sports, events and In-Programme advertising.

For instance, during the soccer World Cup 2002, we conducted studies on perimeter advertising that we feel is going to become considerably important in the near future. .


Tell us about the Print Innovation Monitor?

As I said earlier, in addition to measurement, TAM‘s recent foray into monitoring services of press and TV has given the firm a unique opportunity for integrating measurement and monitoring under a single roof.

TAM India has compiled exhaustive information on the various options available for ‘creating innovations on print‘ on a single CD. The CD provides information (annual basis) on ‘innovations‘ in nearly 700 Indian publications; and is a one-stop shop available to media planners and buyers.

PIM is India‘s largest pool of print innovation. It has been a great asset to agency planners and buyers who work on the annual client plans under tremendous pressure and stringent deadlines. By using this value-added service provided by TAM India, the fraternity has been able to obtain information at the click of a button. Now, we are planning to extend the concept to track ‘innovation on television‘.

"The trend of product placements and in-serial placements is increasing as newer formats of TV programmes such as Khulja Sim Sim (Star Plus) are being conceptualised by broadcasters"

Are there as many innovations on TV as there is in print?

There are fewer innovations on television as compared to print but we still feel that this scenario is changing rapidly. The trend of product placements and in-serial placements is increasing as newer formats of TV programmes such as Khulja Sim Sim (Star Plus) are being conceptualised by broadcasters. Several companies such as P&G and Dr Morepen are pro-actively exploring these avenues aggressively.

In fact, we did a study on the recall of branding on clothes worn by Indian cricketers and came up with some amazing results. There were advertisers that are willing to pay for such value added offerings.

What about TV producers?

For TV producers, we are planning to forge alliances with third party entities and conduct sessions specially aimed at them. The intention is to provide them with information on ratings as part of the familiarisation exercise. We have developed special packages for them and we are confident that their names will be added to the subscriber list.

TAM India has also increased its presence in B-schools. What are the initiatives taken on that front?

We undertook an exercise called "Pool the Schools". Several top management institutions and media, advertising and broadcasting institutions were roped in and became a part of this initiative.

Jointly with MICA, we organised the TAM MICA Lecture Series on broadcast and media planning strategies. Several distinguished personalities from the industry such as Jasmin Sohrabji of MediaCom, Sunil Lulla of Sony, Ravi Kiran of Starcom, Sandeep Tarkas of MindShare, Soumitra Saha of Turner, Piyush Chakraborthy of NGC and LV Krishnan of TAM addressed the assembled audience. The participants were from Madison, ICICI, ITC, BBC, ETV and several other companies.

The intention was to start the process of orientation and empower the younger generation. As part of our TAM Educate initiative, we also conduct induction programmes for corporates and ad agencies either at the TAM office premises or at the company headquarters itself.

TAM India also has a full-fledged college campus programme wherein we target the best pool of talent. The intention is to generate interest and encourage bright youngsters to join the media and advertising industry. We have conducted sessions in premiere institutions (SP Jain, JBIMS, Sydenham, NMIMS). We also have representation on the MICA Advisory Committee.


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