Television

Audiences have replaced slots as the new language of transaction: Kantar’s Puneet Avasthi

Avasthi talks about addressing the challenges around OTT measurement in India

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Mumbai: Following the ratings controversy in the US that led to the revocation of Nielsen’s MRC accreditation, the TV measurement Company late last month announced an “Impressions First Initiative” to support an industry-wide move to impression-based buying and selling in local markets across the US. This shift to an impression-based currency will lay the groundwork for implementing Nielsen ONE – Nielsen’s single cross-media product - across local, national, and digital measurement.

The alacrity with which the Company has acted indicates the growing importance of CTV measurement for advertisers and how it has been at the core of the entire unrest. Closer home, similar voices are being heard, though at a much lower intensity. One may recall that at the height of the Barc TRP controversy last year, a section of the industry had expressed dissatisfaction with the ratings agency’s efforts and even intentions to bring forth a unified, cross-platform measurement system.

According to Ormax Media’s recent research, the Indian OTT audience universe is now 353.2 million people, translating into a penetration of 25.3 per cent. This means that one in four Indians watched online videos at least once in the last one month. CTV viewing in India increased by 31 per cent as per mediasmart’s India CTV Report 2021. Amazon streaming services that were once considered niche in India are today being accessed by 99 per cent of the pin codes in the country. Now that Amazon has turned into a super app with the launch of Prime Video Channels, further massification is expected. Add to all this, the availability of linear TV on OTT platforms, and the medium becomes a staple in media plans for brands across categories.  

Needless to say, advertisers are clamouring for a third party measurement system for OTT and a unified metric across linear and connected TV that serves all their data needs. While there is no industry body that has been recognised as the standard, individual players both global and independent, are working to meet marketers’ demands, with each contributing its own unique technology, methodology as well insights to evolve a robust and competitive OTT measurement ecosystem in the country.

Taking the discussion forward, Indiantelevision.com’s Ashee Sharma connected with Kantar director (specialist businesses) –South Asia Insights Division, Puneet Avasthi to understand the work being done by the data and insights Company in the field of OTT measurement in India, and the shift in TV measurement over the years.

Edited Excerpts:

On the big shift in TV measurement

The advertising market has seen a significant shift in recent years with the old order of having TV commercials placed on (time) slots changing. Instead of slots, audiences are being sold today, and that has become the new language of transaction. In the old linear TV viewing world where there used to be a fixed time for a content piece, we were measuring the viewership for a particular time spot. But now as viewership and programming become non-linear we have to offer audiences in terms of size and profile, at a particular point in time, and on the content of choice. This effectively means that what used to be a time-centric measurement system is today viewer-centric.

On the challenges of measuring OTT

OTT Measurement is challenging because, one has to not just measure the time when the audiences are available online but, also what content are they watching on the OTT platforms. In the earlier world, the task was principally to estimate how many people are going to be watching TV and which channel, and that could be used to ascertain the particular programme being watched and therefore you had the rating. Now you are estimating not just the viewership at a particular time slot, but also looking at the content that has been specifically beamed into a device. So, media measurement is going to be about both time as well as the content.

On the problem of duplication

In a world of multi-screeners, it is possible that a million impressions that have been counted might actually be fewer because the same individual who is toggling screens may have been served the ad multiple times. Therefore, when it comes to OTT viewership we should ideally be capturing the frequency i.e. how many times someone has watched a particular ad, and not how many times it was served. The latter is what the OTT platforms are able to tell anyway. 

On how Kantar is addressing these issues

Kantar, along with its partner VTION, measures OTT viewership through a consent-based app that can be installed on android devices of people who have been recruited into a 16000-strong panel online. We focus on all on-mobile viewership in towns that have a population of over one lakh. Since it is a recruited panel we have a fairly good understanding of the audience profile. The system allows us to tell the time of viewing and the content that is being watched. It is also possible to extend this service to measure ‘what ads have been served on various devices’, and therefore, theoretically speaking, it is possible to assess the reach of advertising, online.

Another level at which we measure OTT is through the annual baseline or internet usage study called ICUBE. It is conducted on a sample size of 75000 to determine the reach of the internet across urban and rural India. Within that we track the usage of different internet services which includes video entertainment as well; OTT specifically. This gives us an idea of the reach and how it has evolved over a period of time for different OTT platforms.

On Convergence

Eventually, there has to be a convergence where one is able to integrate the viewership of programmes across different modes of content delivery, whether linear on OTT. That is something everybody is working towards. There are technologies that are available. 

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