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IRS 2017: Feel-good launch, but need to look on market-to-market basis, say agencies

The release of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2017 Report by the Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI) and Media Research Users Council (MRUC) has infused a fresh wave of enthusiasm in the country’s print media industry. 

However, the publicity of the IRS 2017 results comes with a code of conduct from the MRUC, which states, “The subscriber may not compare the IRS 2017 data with any previous IRS rounds.” Moreover, any claim for “leading” or “No. 1” or to establish top position by any parameter/s should only be based on a like-to-like comparison, that is, the same set of readership/ listenership/ viewership data can be compared amongst publications/ radio stations / TV channels/ any other media, sourced only from IRS 2017. 

Adgully spoke to some leading agency and media honchos to gauge their reactions, impressions and observations on the latest round of readership data. 

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman, MRUC and Chairman and CEO – South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Networks:
“I think they will be very pleased with the quality of the research. The good thing this time is that we have taken all the constituents of the industry along, whether they are publishers, clients, agencies, members of the board, as well as the TechComm. Of course, there will be winners and losers from that perspective, but I think the industry is one today. There was a lot of skepticism about whether we’d be able to bring out the research today, but I am very hopeful that it will lay a new ground for that as the study of this size never happened in the world.” 

The concerns: First of all, IRS is largely a print-focussed survey. It captures a lot of other data which we share like Radio, TV, etc., but its primary purpose is print data. The quality of the data is very robust, but for other media, for example, TV, BARC may have better research data. So, the key purpose of this research is Readership. 

What’s in it for newer set of advertisers: I do not think there are advertisers who have never sampled print before. In fact, there would probably be advertisers who have used print more than having lesser of it. So, having research is always a strong point and it will only help the print medium. Not having research for the last few years, I think, was a negative for the print industry. 

Sam Balsara, Chairman & Managing Director, Madison World and Madison Communication:
“I think it is good news for print media. The increase of 40 per cent in total readership is indeed good news. According to me, we should really take advantage of this new readership. Publishers should come out with a package that incentivises advertisers who repeat the same ad within a month twice or thrice. Because only if I take an ad 3 or 4 times in a month for the publication I would be able to take the advantage of 40 per cent of the readership at the macro level. Advertisers should be encouraged to take 3 or 4 insertions, no doubt at lower prices, in order to get the benefit of the additional reach.” 

Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Madison Media & OOH - ‎Madison World:
“I think it’s a very feel-good launch. The numbers that they have shared are really non-competitive numbers. We are all used to a currency of average issue readership (AIR), which wasn’t revealed today and so they were talking total readership, monthly readership. All the best with those numbers, seemed good, but I think the devil lies in the details, which we will get into starting today. We welcome it and it is very nice to have IRS back.” 

Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Media Brands:
“We have presented the data at the macro level. For instance, one publication has topped in the UP market, but what about other markets? When you start looking at it on a market-to-market basis, a clearer picture will emerge. So, this is done from the perspective of overall growth in the print industry. Some, however, will get stuck in the metrics, but the data will say it all. It is about relativity. The reality is that there is overall growth with relative parity.” 

Sundeep Nagpal, Founder-Director, Stratagem Media:
“The way it has been presented is not entirely incorrect, because what I believe is that the yardstick of measurement of reach over the last few years ought to be a little bit different, otherwise the medium will suffer. If you keep on saying that I only want to look at the regular readers – which is also not wrong – then the medium will suffer. There is no doubt that the loyalty of the readership or the regularity of the exposure of any medium has to come down whether it is the internet, or anything else. Though the Internet is rising now, eventually it will also come down. The rate of growth will come down. It is not wrong to look at the data this way, but the 40 per cent figure is what I wouldn’t easily accept. The problem is whether the 2014 data was measured correctly for us to say now that there is a growth of 40 per cent.” 

Anand Sankeshwar, logistic baron and MD, VRL Media:
“I would like to congratulate RSCI and MRUC for the wonderful job. As compared to the last time (2014), more new features have been added, for example, the main issue and the variant copies. Also, digital newspaper readership has been incorporated. I am very happy and wish them luck.”

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