Radio Audience Measurement’s (RAM) announcement of testing phone meters in India has created quite a bit of excitement in the radio fraternity. In its current state, RAM employs the diary methodology to measure listenership in select Indian markets. While many of the broadcasters have subscribed to and accepted RAM, media planning executives still don’t appear to be using RAM for planning. Electronic meters seem to be the solution for a situation such as this, but industry leaders from the radio sector see the cost implication of these meters as a major concern.
Commenting on what RAM has to offer now, Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, said, “I am happy with RAM, and certainly believe that it has done a tremendous job in adding seriousness to the evaluation of radio as a viable and effective media choice.” On whether electronic meters would make any difference, she said, “There are several other opportunities to enhance the current research, like adding more cities, getting a single source of multimedia data, which is common for TV and radio to begin with, rather than investments in electronic measurement, which anyway is currently not being used in any large radio market even internationally.”
A completely opposing view to this came, not surprisingly, from Radio Mirchi. Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi, said, “RAM in its current form is quite a joke. We have always supported the electronic meter. Even now, we have met up with LV (Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research) and we have informed them that we would be supporting this initiative. They haven’t shared with us the ultimate plan as yet, and so I cannot comment on that.” Panday further said that irrespective of the methodology, it was the sample size that RAM needed to be worried about.
Red FM’s CEO, Abraham Thomas, is of the opinion that there is some form of a currency in the market with RAM now, and the methodology has seen acceptance from almost all broadcasters. He said, “If you look at the broad trends from RAM, they are fairly accurate too. The problem, however, is that media planners are not yet using the software for planning. They are only looking at it at a macro-level. Even radio broadcasters, in the absence of minute-to-minute data, cannot do promo planning or other such initiatives.”
Thomas echoed Purohit’s point that instead of getting data that was 10 per cent more accurate at an exorbitant cost, it made more sense to channelise funds to get this currency in more markets. He said, “Different technologies can co-exist. Depending on the quirks and needs of a particular market, you can choose what methodology can be used there. However, cost benefit is very important and that would be the deciding factor. Even markets in the US are still using the diary methodology.”
He stated firmly that even for the electronic meter test that RAM intended to execute, the cost of the test would be the deciding factor on whether Red FM could be a part of it or not. “One is always open to newer technologies, but they should be worth it too,” he added.
Himanshu Shekhar, Regional Head, North and West, Big FM, agreed that electronic meters were expensive, but believed that they could also bring further value to the radio industry on the whole. He said, “RAM has brought some kind of order in the market, and that is a positive thing. However, if you had to think from the advertiser’s point of view, a model that would help right at the planning level would make a significant difference, and would make radio a part of the advertiser’s portfolio. For that reason, and others, electronic meters would give a further impetus to the industry.”
He believed that electronic measurement would smoothen out various nuances and would further enhance stakeholders’ confidence in the medium.
As is known, RAM is targeting November to implement this pilot. By then RAM would have completed a year in India following the diary methodology. Prior to RAM, the Media Research Users’ Council (MRUC) was following the day after recall methodology for the Indian Listenership Track (ILT). The ILT has now been discontinued.