The Times of India (TOI), in an ad released on Wednesday, has accused Hindustan Times (HT) of misrepresenting IRS figures to claim leadership in Mumbai + Delhi NCR. The HT strategy will mislead the marketers and advertisers into taking wrong decisions, TOI said.
“Hindustan Times is claiming to be leaders in Mumbai + Delhi NCR by using data convenient to them. They have conveniently left out parts of Greater Mumbai (Thane, Virar & Vasai) and included variants, which have no consequence to the advertiser,” said the advertisement.
The ad claimed that TOI was a clear No. 1 in both the markets on ‘average issue readership’ for the main paper, which is what advertisers are paying for. TOI claimed to have garnered 21,37,000 readers in the combined markets as compared to HT’s 21,15,000 (AIR, Main publication excluding variants).
Clarifying more on the ad, Sanjeev Bhargava, Director, Brand TOI, said, “When you selectively ignore some markets and consider some, then it is not fair representation of data. That's what we wanted to say and for that matter, if anyone does that in any market, it is a clear misrepresentation of data and it is misleading the marketers into taking wrong decisions.”
Objecting the inclusion of variants in readership numbers, Bhargava said, “It’s a rule that variants cannot be clubbed with main editions, they have to be treated as separate publications.”
Agreeing that there are enough and more lacunae, Bhargava told BestMediaInfo.com, “We are studying data closely to ensure that neither competition nor we misrepresent the data in any manner which is unfair.”
“The industry needs to be transparent, fair and honest. We, being the leaders in the industry, that's what we believe in and we want to perpetrate and want other people to follow the same rules,” he added.
The TOI ad: