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Advertisers not in favour of monthly ratings for news channels

While opinion is divided among clients who put their money on air, most feel that the move will affect finer analysis of data

Neha Saraiya & Pallavi Goorha Kashyup | Delhi/Mumbai | September 14, 2011

The proposal of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) to shift to monthly viewership ratings may be a laudable one on the face of it, but the response from diverse stakeholders has not quite been unanimous. With media agencies reluctant to accept the suggestion with open arms, those who put the money on the air – the clients and advertisers -- based on weekly TAM data seem to be skeptical about the move.

Amit Sharma, VP - Marketing & Head - Media, Max New York Life Insurance, a heavy spender on television, said, “Data for all commercial purposes and decision-making regarding news has to be tracked just as any other channel. The news genre competes with all other genres in any media strategy. This proposal will surely affect a finer analysis (of news channels). While channel share data is often analysed in sets of 4 weeks minimum for all insights, one requires data to be sliced finer for deeper trends, which could be a problem in the event the proposal goes through.”

Sharma added, “News channels resort to their choice of content to chase TRPs relevant to their audiences. Reducing frequency of data as a solution for the challenge of deteriorating content of news channels seems to be incongruent. Reducing frequency of data will merely mask variations and hinder deep trending analysis. News channels need to instead evolve their programming strategies. We await further clarity from NBA and TAM on exactly how existing information and data changes will change as a result of this.”

Abdul Khan, Senior VP - Marketing, Tata Tele Services, fears that monthly ratings may affect ROI analysis. He said, "I think the shorter the frequency the better the relevance to the advertiser. The ROI and efficiency of returns is important. With the telecom industry changing at such a fast pace, the parameters to measure our media investment has to be given at a more frequent basis."

Tarun Khanna, Head - Marketing, Fiat India, feels that the proposal for monthly ratings would impact the brand’s media strategy and be detrimental to the efforts to bring more accountability in media spends on TV. “The world of marketing is becoming so dynamic you need to track and optimise your plans/spends almost on a daily basis. So, to move to a system which only gives us data to analyse the results of a campaign only after a month, leaves a lot to be desired. This proposal will take us back to the days when media spends had less/little/no accountability. Today, brands/clients want to know the returns on investment for every medium, including TV.”

Adding that media analytics data should be fat moving and be close to real time, Khanna explained, “Let’s take an example: India is performing badly in an ODI series. What happens to brands who invest huge budgets. They would not be in a position in the proposed monthly ratings to even know how their investment is doing. And also, brands will not have the tools and bargaining power with the channels.”

Mohit Ganju, SVP & Head - Marketing & Communication, IndusInd Bank, is categorical that loathly ratings would definitely impact planning and buying habits. “NBA’s proposal to shift TAM ratings from a weekly to a monthly basis will affect the marketing strategies of organisations adversely. While media agencies may have divergent views on the proposal, I firmly believe that as a marketer it will definitely impact our planning as well as buying habits. In today’s dynamic media environment when every day we see new trends, new programming and new consumer reactions, evaluating the television ratings on monthly basis may not be the best thing to do. One needs media evaluation tools handy and updated on daily basis nowadays, which can propel media investments of advertisers in a much more effective manner,” he explained.

The NBA proposal comes at a time when globally the trend of reviewing daily ratings is providing effective results to advertisers by way of efficient allocation of budgets for the right spots and shows.

If there are detractors, there are some advertisers who view the NBA proposal with optimism. Ajay Kakar, CMO, Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group, argued, “The current concern has arisen out of NBA’s viewpoint that news channels are doing content initiatives to sensationalise news stories to garner viewership. In the bargain they are losing objectivity and quality. As per NBA, the decision to move from weekly to monthly ratings will result in comparatively lesser competition among channels to grab eyeballs/viewership and thus help in improve broadcasting standards. From an advertiser’s point of view, we use the news channels to build reach and frequency for our relevant target group. Our channel basket is not that much influenced by weekly ratings as we like to observe a trend over time before selecting news channels for our campaigns.”

Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder & CEO, Bharat Matrimony.com, echoed a similar sentiment. “In our view, it would not affect our buying pattern much as we are not particular about any one channel. But, at the same time, I believe that for companies that have huge marketing budgets, this change will affect their marketing strategies.”

The support to the proposal by some clients stems from the reasoning that this move will improve the quality of content of news channels by shifting their focus to long-term measures, eradicating the “quick-fix” tactics adopted by most news channels to keep their viewership ratings in place.

As of now, TAM has signalled that it will not rush into implementing NBA's proposal to shift to monthly ratings, and would prefer to base its final decision after a detailed discussion with advertisers, ad agencies and general entertainment channels.

The debate is on, and the jury is still out. Watch this space for more.

Neha@BestMediaInfo.com / Pallavi.Goorha@BestMediaInfo.com

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