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Advertisers question relevance of audience coming through landing pages

For an advertiser targeting English speaking audience, a highly skewed data coming from Kannada and Telugu speaking audiences and other rural audiences does not work at all, they argue

Ever since the news ratings have resumed, there has been quite a shakeup in the pecking orders in both Hindi and English news genres. While there have been claims and counterclaims from broadcasters over the reasons behind the shake-up, advertisers have their own way of looking at it.

Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director, Marketing & Sales, Maruti Suzuki India, advised other advertisers not to take the ratings completely at face value, but also to look into them in a logical manner to find out if the ratings are in line with the various research they carry out on their own.

A senior executive at a large-sized advertiser told that they recently scrutinised an English Channel, which was seeking a hike in ad rates on the back of the leadership claims in certain segments. 

“A demography-wise look at the data took us by surprise. 73% of the entire viewership was coming from two markets – Karnataka and AP/Telangana. That too was heavily skewed towards the rural market. Forget about us, any advertiser would know the audience is not useful. Even if they are getting numbers through landing pages, their strategy appears flawed and desperate. When we averaged out Karnataka and AP/Telangana with other markets and removed rural data, we were left with just 16% of the audience of what they were claiming,” he added.

When asked how Maruti deals with it, Srivastava said, “We as a marketer understand that consumer behaviour doesn’t change overnight. If there is a sudden change in ratings or pecking order, the advertiser has to be careful and see whether it is a long-term trend or it is a manipulated one. We have to keep everything in consideration before spending a single buck.”

“We look at the long-term trend and examine if the change is real. We have our own bit of research which gives us an indicative trend,” he added.

The executive of the large-sized advertiser quoted above said that they have a similar way to vet any data. “We commission our own survey quarterly and in the latest quarterly survey results, they found that the current No. 1 channel according to BARC data does not even feature in the top five in any of the markets. 

Advertisers’ criteria to bring in a channel in the media plan

For Srivastava of Maruti, it never happens that they blindly put money on a platform for advertising. 

“Our media plan is always focused on KPIs for the brand which is how much the awareness increased. If the awareness level or the consideration level does not change, it means that something is wrong. If you focus on your well-defined KPIs, the intermediate steps should be right to get the final result. We make intermediate steps as the base for media planning rather than just reach or ratings. And that makes our media plan a little safer,” said Srivastava.

Impact on business and ad rates

A senior marketer from an FMCG company said that the ongoing chaos in the news genre is just to boost the channels’ ego and create a public perception or a perception in the political circle. It doesn’t actually work with advertisers, especially the large ones who get their own indicative surveys done.

“Perception in the news genre is not created by shouting we are number one. Rather, it is a pure-play function of powerful content. Anyone who is trying to improve their business from brands will have to prove the changes on the ground. And all that matters for an advertiser is affinity,” the marketer said.

When asked how the ratings matter for any hike in ad rates, the senior executive of the large-sized advertiser said, “In case a channel is in the strategic must-have plan of any advertiser, it may get better rates by Rs 200-400. It never happens that the channels which become no. 1 overnight will be able to command the rates for traditionally no. 1 channels. On the other hand, no channel affected in the new BARC ratings has agreed to a rate cut.”

“They will have to up their game and stop fighting amongst themselves. Advertisers are not impressed by their fight. Rather, they take advantage of it to suppress rates further,” he added.

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