IRS, on 20th March 2004, had a meet in Mumbai to unveil the new additions to IRS round 11 and to discuss the way ahead. Two of the important developments discussed in detail were introduction of ISDs (IRS Sampling districts) and Telephonic Survey to capture SEC A1 & A2. Both these are efforts towards robust micro sampling.
Let us first look at introduction of ISDs. As per N Sathyamurthy, Director General, MRUC, "The step has been taken, keeping in mind, media planners' and buyers' need for edition level readership information. AS SCR is a large geographic entity, assumption of homogeneity may not always hold true. Hence, to provide insights at a micro level, ISDs have been introduced."
He gave the example of SCRs bordering state boundaries where mother tongue and languages data could be impacted by that of the neigbouring states. An ISD is defined as a cluster of districts within an SCR. Sampling by ISDs covers a much tighter geographic segment and 58 SCRs are now converted into 159 ISDs.
For this, all editions of major dailies, as per MRUC presentation, have been mapped by districts and 2-5 contiguous districts have been clustered ensuring no 'edition overlaps' for any publication. When asked how would it work in the districts where more than one edition of a newspaper is available, Roda Mehta, Chairperson, Technical Committee, MRUC, stated, "In most cases it is one edition, or split might be 95% and 5% in a few cases. It would be a very rare case when the split would be more that 90:10. These factors have been well considered in our data analysis."
Let us now look at estimation of upward audiences where telephonic surveys are now being used as an important mode of data collection by IRS. Explaining the reason for introducing readership surveys, Amit Ray, Vice-Chair Person, IRS, stated, "Large sample surveys tend to under-estimate and under-report SECs A1 & A2. It, in turn, impacts readership as well ownership data of high-end categories and brands." The reasons for underestimation of this target group, as per him are less access, non-availability and these target audience not being listed in electoral rolls. "Telephonic survey takes care of availability and accessibility problems," he stated.
Explaining the sampling methodology for telephonic survey, Ashok Das, Head, Hansa Research stated, "Random sampling was done at sub metro level and samples have been allocated in proportion to the total number of telephone lines falling within each zone."
Sampling, as per MRUC, was done separately for residential and commercial directories. Estimations are also done separately for telephone and non-telephone homes, and then aggregated.
As of now telephonic survey has been completed in Mumbai and Delhi. The findings have been incorporated in current IRS reporting. Penetration now, as per MRUC are much closer to market reality: While regular IRS penetration had a ratio of 27 (SEC AB), 28 (SEC C) and 25 (SEC DE) in Mumbai, after the introduction of telephonic survey it is now 34, 26 and 40 respectively. And in Delhi the ratio has changed from 39(SEC AB), 21(SEC C), 40 (SEC DE) to 47, 19, 34 respectively. Ray also asked the members present on the occasion to reflect if they felt a need for introducing telephonic surveys in other cities also.
Moving to other discussions that took place in the course of the day, an attempt has been made to understand the 'Countryside' better in this round of IRS. "There was a felt need for it as it is very difficult for marketers to reach rural trade through media. Rural shopkeeper does not only sell products but also decides what needs to be sold and is a major influencer in purchase decisions," stated Ray. Rural consumers as well as shopkeepers in the rural areas have been probed in the survey.
A new initiative that MRUC is planning is IRS 'Child'. Reason for the same being that, children are increasingly becoming important for marketers and media. MRUC asked its members to suggest the areas to be covered, age group and cities and SECs for Child survey.
MRUC representatives also touched upon SPARR. In the new methodology, data from SPARR has been married to IRS using data fusion technique and sections and pullouts now available on the IRS platform. SPARR data for Mumbai has been released - and Delhi would be released next month. Both these metros, as is known, are divided in four sub metros. The plan is to divide six more cities into two parts. The question thrown to the audience was if the members felt that there was a need to look at other cities as well. And also, if they felt the need to divide the cities already under consideration in more parts.
Focusing on the need for submetro data, Mehta elucidated, "Most of the publications are launching split editions and sub metro study is beneficial for both publishers and advertisers in understanding the target groups in that context. Mumbai itself is equal to 16-17 Agras, Andheri can be compared to 3 Agras."
Another interesting debate on the occasion revolved around Navbharat Times' English masthead in Delhi. (It is now called Times of India - masthead is in English). Fielding the questions in this regard Mehta stated, "Nothing is right or wrong. Newspapers would do what they think is the requirement. The need for us researchers, perhaps, is to evolve a new methodology. There is no history so far and hence we would have to have a fresh pilot. However, there are already language filters and problem would arise only in the cases where a person states that he reads both Hindi and English publications."
Data for Round 11 would be released this month itself, while the data for Round 12 is likely to be out in September 2004.