There’s likely to be no end to the debate over which one is better – Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS). There are differing views on both and each has got their own supporters. A section of the industry believes that IRS is a better reflection of the measurement of radio listenership as compared to RAM since the former has an extensive sample size unlike RAM. Then, there is another section that has its reservations about the IRS, saying that it is primarily for the print media.
Although RAM may have rich data and is available week after week, its biggest challenge is that it is present in only four metros – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. IRS, on the other hand, boasts of a far wider reach, thus helping advertisers and media planners gain perspective of smaller towns. Then there is the methodology used by both, while RAM follows the Diary method, IRS follows the Day After Recall (DAR) method.
India today has over 250 FM stations, and with the Phase III of FM rollout, an additional 700 FM stations would be set up. The Indian radio industry currently contributes a mere 4 per cent of the overall advertising pie and attracts over Rs 800 crore advertising revenue. Therefore, data from IRS and RAM helps the industry attract advertisers to this medium, especially since most of the FM stations today are spread across small towns and mini-metros.
Thus, it becomes pertinent to ask how relevant IRS radio data is for media planners.
In reply to this question, Narendra Kumar Alambara, General Manager and Office Head, Starcom Worldwide, Chennai, said, “IRS radio does make sense for media planners, but only at a certain level. However, you need something that has a better understanding of the overall perspective and provides comparative perspective to other mediums such as print and television. RAM, on the other hand, gives a lot more indepth analysis, but in restricted to four metros currently. Besides this, IRS does give a lot of perspective and better understanding on reach of radio in smaller towns, which lacks in other mediums.”
According to Sanjay Sharma, Director, Synergy Media, “RAM is limited to four metros, but, it provides results every week. IRS has a very large sample size and is spread across India, even into small towns unlike RAM. I believe IRS is a very good health indicator for radio as a medium and is spread not only in large cities, but also in small towns, which is very good not only for the medium, but also for the advertisers and media planners, who want to reach out to small town listeners.”