It has been over two years since the National Readership Survey (NRS) made any appearance on the Indian print industry scene. The National Readership Studies Council (NRSC) however is still very keen on getting the survey back on its feet. A special committee has been meeting with research agencies over the last few days with the agenda of getting the NRS back in the market in 2009, and ensuring that it is a continuous survey in its next avatar.
Some of the agencies that NRSC has been in discussions with include Ipsos and Hansa Research apart from ACNielsen.
Speaking to exchange4media on the approach to the NRS and the efforts towards getting the study back in place, Malayala Manorama’s Varghese Chandy, who is a part of the committee that is working on the NRS assignment, said, “I cannot give any details; all I can say is that we are in the process of meeting agencies and nothing is decided so far.”
Chandy explained, “The bigger factor here really is the various detail revolving around the survey that include things like reporting units, reporting patterns, sample size, whether the survey findings would be quarterly or half yearly – all that would ensure that the survey is a gold standard for print research in India,” added Chandy.
As the experts put it, NRS was not a continuous survey in its earlier formats, and was more of an “independent survey” in each of the rounds that were conducted. The clear objective now is for it to be a continuous survey.
As is known, the NRS has had the backing of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC). It is also widely known that this is not the first time that the NRS has faced problems in ensuring a steady data supply to the industry. In the previous rounds enough glitches were seen in the survey for the industry to point fingers, and question the data.
Does a history like that impact the credibility of the NRS? Madison World’s Chairman Sam Balsara, who has been associated with the NRS for the previous rounds as the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the NRS, replied, “There is still a lot of interest around the NRS in all the recent meetings that we have had. Research is very important for the Indian industry at present, especially in light of the given economic conditions, where it is very important for print media houses to be armed with different ways of looking at the data so that they can convince advertisers to be on their various media vehicles.”
Both Balsara and Chandy stated that the attempt is to make NRS the kind of survey that the current print industry needs. The other currency that the industry at present has is the Indian Readership Survey done by the Media Research User’s Council (MRUC) and Hansa Research. There is not a single round of survey that the IRS has missed in the last many years, which also meant that the MRUC and Hansa have faced the publishers’ ire every six months. The decision to make total readership the fronting parameter instead of average issue readership also created significant problems for the IRS in the latest round.
If the NRSC does manage to bring the NRS out in 2009, it would be comparison time again between the findings of the two surveys. The industry bodies, including the MRUC, have tried on various occasions to collaborate for a single currency. It would be interesting to see how this situation develops in the time to come.