The IRS 2009 R1 data has the FM radio industry by and large fuming as some see their station leading in a particular city where they are not even present. This has led to most FM players saying that they preferred Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) over IRS for the former’s accuracy and in places where RAM is not present, some of them commissioned their own research.
Radio Mirchi, which as per the IRS 2009 R1 data is shown leading the FM space across India, understandably follows the IRS data as compared to RAM data.
All for RAM
According to Anand Chakravarthy, Senior VP – Marketing, Big FM, “IRS is not designed to measure radio listenership. There are a lot of issues currently with the data and we are hoping that the IRS comes out with a cleaner data. In cities outside of RAM’s purview, we have our own dipstick studies, which are customised to measure radio listenership. Nevertheless, IRS data are indicative in nature and we do not design our product based on IRS.”
He further said, “Perhaps, IRS data could, to some extent, influence advertisers and media planners and perhaps lead to confusion, nevertheless, we do believe that media planners and advertisers prefer RAM over IRS as it is far more accurate and we do hope that even the advertisers realise that there are problems in the IRS and, therefore, not use it as an absolute yardstick to measure radio listenership.”
On similar lines, Neeraj Chaturvedi, National Marketing and Promotions Head, Fever FM, said, “We do not follow the IRS simply because it has the same flaws that ILT had as it is all recall based data, which is unrealiable and works for brands that have high heritage and not necessarily for brands, which are doing well and have high listenership.”
“I think all advertisers know that the best system we have is RAM. The basic issue with ILT was with its methodology, and even the IRS has the same flaw. Therefore, I don’t think that should create any confusion among advertisers,” he added.
Harrish M Bhatia, VP - Northern Region, AROI, and COO, My FM (Synergy Media Entertainment Ltd), noted, “Judging ourselves or the industry on the basis of the IRS would be a foolish step on our part. It would be more worthwhile if the radio industry as a whole can agree to decide on a measurement system more closely rooted in reality.”
He continued, “The IRS results may create some confusion, but advertisers and media planners will probably not be too affected by it since they are prudent and will also see the discrepancies in the data. Furthermore, their entire planning cannot be based on one set of figures reported by one research and they will obviously look at other parameters like content, programming, popularity, reach etc. before making critical decisions.”
On a different take, Sujata Bhatt, EVP, Marketing and Strategy, ENIL (Radio Mirchi), explained, “We believe that the IRS is a better reflection of the measurement of radio listenership. The RAM sample size is restricted to around 500 people, whereas the sample size of IRS is around 7,000. Therefore, the results of IRS would be more robust simply because it is a representation of a larger and more heterogeneous set of listeners. The methodology used by RAM is the Diary method. It is a well known fact that this methodology has some inherent flaws. When a respondent “ticks” against a radio channel in the Diary, he/she is expected to do so as soon as the listening takes place. In reality, respondents tend to fill up diaries towards the end of the week – when they are to be picked up by the research agency. This leads to diaries being reflective of “recall” of a station rather than its actual ‘listenership’.”
She further said, “Therefore, as a planning tool, IRS is better placed than RAM simply because it is a better reflection of the listenership of a radio station and gives an advertiser data which has been sourced by a more accurate/ robust methodology. We are very happy with the IRS results. They are very much on expected lines. We think the results are quite accurate and are a true reflection of listenership. For example, we have always maintained that Radio Mirchi is the most preferred radio station in Mumbai. This has been clearly demonstrated in these results, which put us at a 20 per cent lead over the next competition.”
From media agency point of view
When asked whether advertisers and media planners followed the IRS, Sandeep Lakhina, COO, Starcom Worldwide, South Asia, said, “RAM is certainly more preferable for us in the four metros where RAM is present, nevertheless wherever RAM is not available, then IRS is the only credible measurement system that we have. Therefore, I believe RAM has a responsibility to broaden its footprint to more number of cities as IRS is not specifically designed for radio and this is the current challenge that we have, but given the fact that there is no other alternative, then we have to work with this.”