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IRS 2013 abeyance lifted; reactions and implications...

Following an all-party unanimous decision with effect from 20th August 2014 announcing that the voluntary abeyance placed on The Indian Readership Survey 2013 is lifted with effect from 20th August, 2014, Adgully spoke to experts across industry to capture their reactions and the possible implications this announcement could bring about.

Aashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO South Asia - Dentsu Aegis Network stated that while this decision indicates a positive light for all parties involved and the data is already available in immediate effect, it’s time that the industry collects itself and stands for the betterment of the business. “As the data has been under in scrutiny for long now, one needs to understand that collective efforts if put in the right direction can improve the quality of data. Also, while many have been bickering about the issue, the parties involved need to move on and netter the standards of the business.”

Industry expert, on condition of anonymity informs Adgully that print publishers shall be holding a meeting with the said industry bodies so as to discuss further course of action. We also learn that while it may be difficult to reach a consensus today, one can expect the issue of a statement towards the end of the day. “After Hindustan Times and Rajasthan Patrika publishing this news on their cover pages, it may be a hint that this announcement may not have significant impact on publications for whom the IRS 2013 data has been positive”, he mentioned.

Anita Nayyar, CEO Havas Media Group, India & South Asia said, “While the revalidation and analysis have been done, it has taken a long period of time to come to this. Also, I believe that there is no assurance that this ends here for sure as some glaring gaps and loopholes (like in case of Hindu BusinessLine) and methodology issues (like sample size) may still be a concern for many publishers who have faced the dark side of the results. Until their grievances and concerns are addressed and taken care off, I think this issue would not settle down too early. Also, while one understands that conducting a research of this scale is not easy, one cannot do away the expectation of aptness and credibility the publishers would hold with the study”.

The industry expert we spoke to mentions that this announcement comes in at a crucial time with the festive season around and clients setting up their plans for the same. “By virtue of their good numbers and standing in the market, larger publications and advertisers may not necessarily br affected by this announcement as in this case, there are certain set moulds which both the parties follow. But in case of smaller publications and advertisers, I believe there is a little fear of loss of business and revenue, understanding that these advertisers spend their monies with more thoughtful planning”, he said. 

Nayyar mention that while data is a tricky subject, numbers and ratings are essentially used for each player’s advantage and play an important role in the media business cycle. However, she believes that print planning may not be affected by this announcement, unlike the broadcast counterparts. “While television is a week-on-week game, that is not the case with print as here, the numbers come in on yearly and half yearly basis which do not indicate any large differences or changes. But things may be competitive as far as the top 2-3 players are concerned as there is usually not much gap between their ratings”, she added.

An advertiser on condition of anonymity stated that while this announcement may not be able to bring about a knee-jerk reaction from the advertiser community, however, in the long run, if ratings and numbers keep travelling the hilly roads, marketers will be needed to take crafted decisions on their media planning. “Also, many clients have set relationships with specific publishers which in many ways will be ratings agnostic. However, long-term repercussions of the announcement may vary has revenues and investments will then decide on these relationships”, he added.

Bhasin states that most annual plans of many international clients usually culminate by this time. “September – October is the time when clients plan for the next year, so I don’t think this announcement should affect planning, whether festive season or no”, he remarked.

Concluding the conversation, the expert also hinted that going ahead; many publishers may not invest such huge amounts in these researches, which he perceives to hamper the print industry on the whole.

Hence, it is a wait and watch situation as to what shall be the final picture like. Keep watching this space for more... 

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