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Double Delight? TV Ratings in India

Double Delight? TV Ratings in India

So we now have BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), (http://www.barcindia.co.in), another TV rating system in India; after the long standing TAM (http://www.tamindia.com). The marketers should be happy, and happier are those who use to dispute TAM. Reasons can be many; after all, data and statistics it not something full proof!

One of the main criticism of TAM was its coverage and depth. It may sound that a paltry 10-12K households (http://www.tamindia.com/tamviewer_intro.php) cannot be true representative of all markets in India. And in this era of high media proliferation and fragmentation. Today the marketer cannot just create an all India plan, but her plan must be by the markets (read languages) and every genre now is available in more than two languages. Think about the Hind kids channels or the Dicovery in Hindi/ Tamil/ Telugu/ Bangla.

Still we lived with that, for long; in absence of anything better. In fact in the recent years the government has came out with guidelines (http://www.ibfindia.com/amit-mitra-committee-report) that includes a minimum of 30K households, to be achieved in a few years – to make the sample more representative. The govt also wanted to bring in more players and make the ratings competitive, and hence, improved competition and accountable reporting.

So now the marketers and media planners have two numbers to go by– double the delights. But, what if the numbers don’t match? For the same market, if you get two very different TRPs – how to cope with that? To start with BARC is also having 20K households – so you cannot beat by numbers too much. They are claiming their technology is better (but when last the marketers really believed in technology ;) ). I can see a debate storming up – in the marketer-research-agency meetings. At least in the beginning – till one settles for either. The media plans have been crafted based upon TAM’s number, and we are not going to drop those soon.

Or for that matter, one can adopt both. It could be a strategy to use one number for one case and another for a different case – case as in market or category. A confident marketer/ researcher can also pit the numbers against each other and see how are they performing. A plan developed using TAM can be validated against BARC numbers too. If both are correct (statistically at least), the results won’t be much different. But to do all these, we will need to have significant confidence on both, or a much higher confidence on one so that the other can be discarded. However, this will come only after a quite a long time - months, if not years.

So now the marketers have options to choose from, and thankfully a manageable number so that she is not spoilt.

So here I see a few items in the offing:

  1. Calibrating the numbers of TAM and BARC – for every possible situations – categories, genres, dayparts. With an objective – how are they match up, and with what correction factor? At least at high levels.2
  2. Where the BARC plays well, and where the TAM? It can well be the case that either is stronger in certain pockets – market, category, genre. The marketer or planner can then optimize their plan accordingly. I feel this has to be tested with data – relate GRPs with brand imagery and possibly sales/ penetration numbers in different cuts of the market.
  3. Test and learn. Have two similar plans based on either number, in the same market. Test for a while (6-12 months) and see which numbers are closer to you brand reality. Bigger and long term brands can afford and should guide the market too.

All three, are pretty much data and analytics driven. Thankfully, the data is not a challenge anymore, at least in this research market. The analytics needs to be guided, and consultative; as the market realities needs to be checked and validated. And the number crunching should be grounded, please!

I am prompted to throw an idea: how about a syndicated study? Where brands from different categories participate, and the both BARC and TAM as well along with media research agencies – and we see the numbers is perspectives. I am expecting few outcomes from here:

  1. One knows which works better for her brand and category, as well for the market or TG.
  2. How can she pool both – and get a value which is bigger than two – her marketing plan is much more optimized with much better data

In this high investment market, I would prefer to bank on two research rather than one; as we do for our money, right?

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