The long awaited decision on the latest Indian Readership Survey (IRS) data was taken Wednesday evening, with the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) lifting the voluntary abeyance placed on the IRS 2013 with effect from August 20. Considering it is the print industry that has been objecting to the Survey, exchange4media spoke to some of the stakeholders for their reaction.
Turn the page
Benoy Roychowdhury, Executive Director, HT Media welcomed the decision. He said, “I am very happy with the revalidation process. It is a much improved survey.”
K K Goenka, Managing Director, Prabhat Khabar, sounded keen to move on. “The IRS is already running late. We need to move on, hoping for the upcoming numbers to be error free.”
It must be remembered that the RSCI (Readership Studies Council of India) committee has handed over the revalidation process to Praveen Tripathi of Magic 9 Media, who is believed to be one of the best brains in the country. Praising Tripathi and his work and also sounding optimistic, I Venkat, Director, Eenadu said, “It is good that the validation process is over and the data has been released. It's been a while since any data was available in the market. Besides, it is being validated by Praveen Tripathi, one of the best professionals in the field. Couldn't get any better.”
One of the leading players from the south, on condition of anonymity, urged for a more balanced approach. “There is no one research agency which could make everybody happy. Whichever way we look at it, whether it is new data or old one, people are going to be skeptical. So revalidation does not matter much.”
IRS losing its sheen?
Varghese Chandy, Senior General Manager, Malayala Manorama, was skeptical. “IRS is losing its relevance and advertising agencies and publications are using ABC numbers instead,” he said, adding that the lifting of the voluntary abeyance will not impact the market as media agencies already have the numbers of publications. “The data is not of much importance. The numbers are just a tool for planning,” he said.
On a critical note, N Murali, Co-chairman, Kasturi & Sons Limited (The Hindu) said, “When the IRS figures were released last time, there was hue and cry in the media industry, as the figures were fundamentally flawed for an overwhelming number of newspapers. Revalidation was attempted to counter the all-round criticism of the Survey. But on the pretext of going through revalidation, if the same figures are validated, it leads to an absurd situation. I don’t think the newspaper industry will accept this.”
When asked if he was satisfied with the revalidation process, AIM (Association of Indian Magazines) President and Publisher Chitralekha Group, Mitrajit Bhattacharya said, “If the problems of the existing IRS do not get resolved, how can publishers who had rejected the survey results earlier change their stance? There were discrepancies beyond explanation and they remain if the survey is revalidated.” Insisting that the numbers did not quite add up, Bhattacharya said, “So if we couldn't use them (data) earlier, I suppose we won't use them in future either.”
On a positive note, Shantanu Bhanja, CMO, HT Media said, “Most of all, we are relieved that the long debate about the accuracy of the IRS is over, and the new IRS built by the entire industry, with all its robust processes, and modern technology like dual-CAPI, has been revalidated. It’s also good for industry that the new IRS is now released for all to use again, since the previous data related to fieldwork that was nearly two years old. It is time also to have the product linkage studies, etc., which couldn’t earlier be released, and which are significant needs for brand marketers.”
Predicting chaos in the advertising marketplace, N Murali took a strong stance against the IRS 2013, “It is now best to abandon the much maligned Survey and start on a clean slate with a more fool proof, robust and reliable methodology and process. It is the only way forward.”