The recently released Indian Listenership Track, the only syndicated radio research in the country by Media Research Users Council, has raised a few eyebrows in the radio industry. MRUC uses the Yesterday Listenership or Day After Recall methodology for the ILT findings. The debate has already begun for the methodology adopted by the research agency for ILT.
While DAR or YDL tracks radio listenership based on their recall of the brand on the previous day, industry experts believe this is not a proper measuring method as listeners will not be able to recall them accurately.
Commenting on the YDL methodology, Anand Chakravarthy, Head-Marketing, Big FM, said, “The DAR methodology is no longer an industry standard anywhere in the world, as it has certain anomalies. Listenership measured by it is driven by brand saliency rather than actual listenership.”
Elaborating further, he said, “It does not capture any other surrogates like RJ recall, tagline recall, association of frequency with brand, imagery associations etc., all of which are critical ingredients of radio and will be excellent surrogates to corroborate claimed listenership of any station.”
Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, observed, “YDL is a good indicator of top-of-mind awareness rather than listenership. This implies that a huge dose of tactical advertising can easily influence the findings.” Meanwhile, Fever FM’s Neeraj Chaturvedi reasoned that this is the only industry research purposive to radio listening, which is currently available.
In an earlier interview, Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, had felt that there are flaws in ILT. She reasoned, “ILT measures DAR which is equal to saliency, but it is not equal to listenership. So, typically in DAR, what gets picked up is salience, which really is the top-of-mind brand that you might have recently seen in an outdoor campaign.”
However, Kaushik Ghosh, Senior VP-Marketing, Radio Mirchi, asserted that the DAR or YDL method is the best available one currently. “YDL measures listenership in a medium that is background listening which is a habit. Since habits of consumers do not change frequently, the method is absolutely fine,” he pointed out.
Ghosh continued, “What ILT cannot give is reach and frequency; but that can only be given by a panel and we will be happy with one, but data collection should be electronic (watch metres or similar).”
On the other methodologies available for measuring radio listenership, Thomas asserted, “In an increasingly sophisticated and demanding market place, we need to move beyond mere top-of-mind recall. Whether that means we move to the dairy methodology or we add audio mastheads to DAR, something needs to be done soon.”
Chakravarthy said in the same wavelength, “Across the world, most markets like the US, the UK, Australia etc. use the diary system which is far more accurate and time proven as a method for measuring listenership.” Chaturvedi added, “This a better and a more accurate method for tracking listenership as it captures actual behaviour as opposed to recalled behaviour.”
The key radio broadcasters have come together to drive the implementation of a diary panel in India, which will happen over the next three months. This system will give broadcasters a more robust, frequent and relevant data, which can help both take better business decisions.
On the other hand, Mirchi’s Ghosh is not satisfied with the diary method. He explained, “It is difficult to imagine how SEC B, C and D/E will fill up the diary. The diary method has the real risk of actually being a seven-day recall — the respondents are likely to fill up the diary on the day of collection. We would be happy to have a panel but only if the data collection is through electronic means,” he added.
Purohit asserts that they have been trying to persuade ILT since one year to move to another system where it is at least able to give some audio cues. She pointed out, “Last year, Red FM took up the whole issue of linkup in research. If people are listening to ‘X’ RJ and they identify the RJ equals ‘Y’ station and so forth, then we are talking about genuine listenership. After one year of personally talking to them, we have given up now. Forget currency, it is not even helping us in our programming.”
Speaking about their internal measurements, Chakravarthy said, “In the interim we have our own listenership track which measures not just YDL, but also other key surrogates like RJ recall and association of the RJs with stations, brand tagline recall, frequency association with brands etc., all of which give us a far more accurate measure of listenership.”
Similarly, Fever’s Chaturvedi informed that they have their brand track process in place and added, “We use that to formulate our marketing and programming strategies.”
Likewise, Radio City too has an internal measurement system. Purohit informed, “We have invested very heavily in our own research with Synovate, which is ‘Brand Health Monitor’. For the last nine months, we have been doing it and now in the fourth track, it has stabilised. So we should reveal the findings soon. For the outside world, we need a currency.”
With such internal measurements in place for almost every station, there will be no credible research finding for the advertiser to believe in. ILT, which has been in the space for sometime now, is already facing a lot of flak. Until and unless a universal body brings out the findings, there are bound to be debates and discussion on them. Hope these talks pave a path for a robust radio measurement system.