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Industry Speak: Are in-car radio listenership tracks significant?

Industry Speak: Are in-car radio listenership tracks significant?

Author | Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy | Monday, Jul 30,2007 9:08 AM

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Industry Speak: Are in-car radio listenership tracks significant?

In-car radio listenership constitutes a very small percentage of the audience in the country, according to ILT 2006 Wave 4. Yet, the radio industry is divided on the significance and insignificance of the results derived from in-car radio listenership tracking. Leading players have shared their views on this highly contentious tracking method.

According to the Indian Listenership Track (ILT) 2006 Wave 4 survey, which is conducted by the Media Research Users’ Council (MRUC), in-car radio listenership constitutes to just 1.4 per cent and 4.4 per cent of yesterday listeners in the cities of Mumbai and Delhi respectively. According to the ILT, around 70 per cent of listeners from both the cities listen to radio at home, while Mumbai recorded a high number of listeners who tune in while commuting.

Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, pointed out that listenership ‘in-car’, ‘while commuting’, ‘mobile listenership’, etc. might not be as significant in numbers, but they do indicate a station’s popularity among certain pockets. “Currently, in-car listenership is not so significant, and it appears that it will continue to be that way for a while. Our view is that while insights on the place of listenership is important and do indicate the trends, understanding the big picture from the advertisers’ point of view is even more important. Further more, advertisers don’t really buy based on in-house surveys,” he said.

Anand Chakravarty, Marketing Head, BIG FM, observed that it is quite pathetic to look at car ownership as even in evolved markets like Mumbai and Delhi a very small fraction of listening takes place in cars. “Any data shows that radio listening is around 85 per cent at homes and less than 5 per cent in cars. It is a sign of desperation to claim leadership in this small fraction of audience,” he elaborated.

Meanwhile, Radio Mirchi has been using in-car listenership tracks for quite some time now. Prashant Panday, Deputy CEO, Radio Mirchi, believes that it is the research that is most accurate in data capture, as the respondent does not even have to reply to a questionnaire and the researcher actually checks what station is playing on the radio. “So there is no question of ‘recall’ bias getting into the data capture and it measures the listenership of the radio in the most important segment of the market,” he said.

Explaining Radio Mirchi’s position on the tracking method, Panday noted that the radio company has been the pioneer of car radio listenership tracks, and till date, it has undertaken more than 800 car tracks in more than 15 markets with research partner IMRB. Elaborating on the importance of the tracking methodology, he said, “Because the method of data capture is the most ‘perfect’, this method of doing research is important for the industry. We have found that clients also attach more significance to car tracks than to other modes of research.”

Talking about the advantages of the findings of the tracks, Panday continued, “There are many revelations from car tracks. For example, individual track results matter lesser than trends. The data obviously helps us in analysing effects of programming changes on listenership, and so on. The results need expertise to handle. Projection from car tracks to the overall population is another trick that needs to be learnt.”

“For us in Mirchi, car tracks are sacrosanct. Twice a month, we get a good, accurate idea of how our listenership is faring. This is the reason why we are consistently the leader in every single market that we operate in,” panday added.

Rana Barua, National Head-Marketing, Radio City, cited the NRS 2006 results whereby the maximum radio listenership of over 60 per cent occurs at home, and out of the total FM listeners, only two-four per cent tunes in to FM radio in their car. “These numbers will have to be significantly high for the industry to recognise the in-car listenership track,” he stressed.

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