The Indian Readership Survey (IRS) methodology has come under the scanner yet again. Mid-Day wrote a letter to the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) on January 29, 2009, stating that the IRS research methodology did not do justice to a brand like Mid-Day. When contacted, Cyriac Mathew, COO, Mid Day Infomedia Ltd, confirmed that such a letter had been sent to MRUC.
In the letter, Mid-Day stated that it provided an entertaining news break to young urban mobile working professionals (YUMPI) across India in the middle of the day. A large part of the Mid-Day circulation reaches young working professionals via subscriptions in their offices or is picked up from newsstands post 12 noon everyday. Thus, Mid-Day felt that that given their unique brand audience and mode of reader delivery, the IRS research methodology did not suit an out-of-home newspaper like Mid-Day. Mid-Day has four editions across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, with their core target audience being the YUMPIs.
Elaborating on this, Mathew explained in the letter to MRUC, “The environment for the research conducted at home does not suit an English daily like Mid-Day, which is consumed out of home. The research is conducted at homes, where our non-core target audience (people who are not young, working professionals) is primarily surveyed. The research is not designed to reach offices for the study. Our readers may not have the time to answer a 42-page questionnaire, and even if they do, they might do so passively. The questionnaire also does not mention which English daily they read out of home. Finally, the results of the study are superimposed on our performance, which is not a true indicator. This might also be the case for other out of home dailies and magazines.”
Further, Mathew wrote in the letter, “The IRS research agency’s field force is unable to get access to premium households. Mid-Day, being targeted at the young professionals, faces the brunt of the IRS survey, which primarily targets SEC C & D households.”
He added, “The above mentioned points are hampering both our brands and business as it clearly does not reflect upon our actual performance.”
Meanwhile, in an email response to exchange4media’s query on the letter sent by Mid-Day raising concerns about the IRS research methodology, Sabina Solomon, General Manager, Media Research Users Council (MRUC), said, “While it is true that Mid-Day had written to MRUC, I am quite shocked that the media is privy to the communication between the two organisations. And I am further shocked by the fact that Mid-Day has given you a comment on the content of the letter and the IRS readership data, though they may not have too much information with respect to the IRS data as they do not subscribe to the IRS, knowing that this communication is private.”
She further said, “We have responded to Mid-Day on all the concerns and issues raised by them, and since they have chosen to comment on their letter, you could also seek their comments on our response to them. It is unethical for us to share the communication between Mid-Day and us.”
Mid-Day officials were not available for comments in this regard at the time of filing the report.