The latest Indian Readership Survey figures have been strongly opposed by the print players and a process for re-validation of the study is currently underway, which is expected to be completed by March 31, 2014. Till then, the IRS data is in abeyance.
As is known, IRS, which sets the standards and targets for all publications in the country, tested the patience of the print industry as it was 16-months overdue this time – and riddled with anomalies.
In the interim period, with no fresh data in hand, the question arises as to how newspapers are dealing with advertisers.
Several publishers highlighted that the readership figures are just for reference, as it is the credibility of the brand based on which advertisers close the deal. Rahul Kansal, Executive President, Brand Function, BCCL stressed, “It is because of the credibility of the newspaper that advertisers come on board. The print business is very old, and the numbers are just an indication.”
On the other hand, there are some players who are banking on other industry survey data. Talking to exchange4media, Varghese Chandy, Senior General Manager, Malayala Manorama said, “We are using Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) numbers since IRS numbers are suspended. Advertisers don’t have any problem and they don’t have any other option either. The ABC numbers are a good representation and all the data that is available is validated.”
Meanwhile, publishers are also looking at previous IRS data, which they feel are good enough for advertisers to choose their platforms to display their ads. A spokesperson from Navbharat Times said, “We are closing deals on the basis of the old numbers.” At the same time, he admitted that the lack of readership numbers can be felt in terms of negotiation power when it comes to sale of the product in the market.
Newspapers do not hike their ad rates when readership figures are high, but when readership numbers are down, advertisers have reason to worry because they are paying the same as when readership was high.
Taking a dig at the survey, Suresh Srinivasan, VP, Advertising, The Hindu said, “Just because there is a survey organisation, it doesn’t change the world view. This is a view developed several decades ago with a deep understanding of publications.”
He added that operations are unaffected, and since IRS 2013 has been held in abeyance, IRS Q4 2012 data is the reference point.
Though the anomalies in the IRS survey figures raised questions of credibility, publishers maintained their faith in the advertisers over placing their ads. In an earlier conversation with exchange4media, some leading advertisers said that they will continue with advertising in newspapers even though there are no IRS figures to go by currently. They, however, expect the issue to be resolved soon.