Magazine publishers have always decried the results of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS), stating that the numbers are not always representative of the actual readership. While there is still uncertainty on which is the most relevant metric – Average Issue readership (AIR) or Total Readership (TR) – for measurement of magazine readership, the question also arises on how magazines that are not registered with the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) get measured.
There are various niche magazines which are not registered with the MRUC and are hence not measured by IRS. What is the dipstick that advertisers and media planners follow to measure these magazines? exchange4media finds out.
It may be recalled that it was suggested at the Indian Magazine Congress in Mumbai earlier this year that the magazine industry carried out a survey itself, and accordingly, the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) had announced an ‘Engagement Study’ for magazines. The decision was taken that it could act as an alternate source of data for advertisers. AIM plans on having the survey done by a research organisation, which will measure the engagement level of each magazine.
Meanwhile, advertisers and media planners do not seem to be much concerned about the same methodology of IRS for magazines and newspapers. Ajay Kakar, CMO, Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group, said, “We look at IRS for both dailies and magazines. I don’t see any problem with the methodology. Since the entire research is based on recall, both dailies and magazines will face the same barriers that the methodology entails.”
On similar lines, R Gowthaman, Leader, Mindshare, South Asia, who is also on the Board of the Media Research User Council, remarked, “We should not be changing the methodology depending upon the frequency of the publications.” He, however, added that time had come to dig deep into the interpretation of the numbers rather than commenting superficially.
Rajiv Gopinath, COO, Madison Media Infinity, too, felt that having the same methodology was fine, but added that it was important to look at the use of the right metric.
When asked what the relevant metric for measurement of magazines was –AIR or TR, Kakar replied, “TR does get relevant for magazines as they have a longer shelf life, thus encouraging more floating readership.”
On the other hand, Gopinath of Madison Media, noted, “If you look at the ratio of TR/AIR across publications, the top dailies will have a ratio below 2. Weekly magazines will have a ratio between 2 and 3. Monthly magazines will have a ratio over 3. The point is longer the periodicity, the greater the attribution to TR. So, in the case of monthlies, we need to pay heed to TR as well.”
He further said, “If we have a property running on a daily, like a daily column sponsorship, then TR becomes relevant. Even in the case of a heavy schedule on a daily, TR may be relevant from a 1+ build.”
Dipstick for niche magazines
Meanwhile, there are several magazines in the market, which do not come under the measurement of the IRS. While some of these magazines come under the niche segment, some are well known foreign magazine brands too, which attract readers as well as advertisers.
On how these are being included in various media plans, Kakar explained, “We do look at their circulation, ABC or claimed, to understand the percentage of copies that are subscription based and also the edit content. This gives us a better understanding of the publication on which media decisions can be based.”
For Gowthaman, niche magazines were bought for consumer engagement and call to action rather than reach. “Magazines that are not captured in IRS can only be done through circulation reports, claimed and industry led,” he added.
“Niche magazines, which do not feature in IRS, are measured on the basis of their content, quality, peer feedback and advertiser profile,” Gopinath concluded.
IRS Q3 2010: And the great AIR-TR debate continues…