What’s going on? Almost every news channel is numero uno these days! At least that is what the deluge of communication from channels for the past five to six weeks would have us believe. As they say, statistics is everybody’s ally – till one picks up the magnifying glass to decipher the TG and day-parts used. And matters have become more interesting with players like NDTV and Zee TV now using aMap data, in addition to TAM numbers at times, to claim pole position.
Zee Network has been using aMap data for a while now – beginning from ‘Time Bomb’ for Zee TV to numbers for Zee News as well. Recently, NDTV Media has joined Zee in subscribing to both TAM Media Research and aMap data. Officials from the channels claim they see no reason not to utilise both data in future.
Speaking on the usage of both TAM and aMap data, Raj Nayak, CEO, NDTV Media, said, “Just as NRS and IRS co-exist, TAM and aMap can also co-exist. Print uses both surveys and also ABC. TV is also free to use various data sources.”
Zee spokesperson Ashish Kaul, elaborated, “We are using both data for an internal reflection to observe what is working and what isn’t. In aMap, you don’t have to wait for a week to know what is working in your marketing and to an extent even in the programming of the show. We subscribe to both data due to this reason and we see no harm in using the findings for our communication as well.”
Kaul is clear that Zee Network is not favouring any one data, but at the same time doesn’t deny that there are advantages aMap provides. “aMap is giving you overnight data, which is of immense importance to a present day strategist. The households are equal to or more than what TAM offers. This cannot be ignored today,” he explained.
Elaborating on whether NDTV had any preference, Nayak said, “The reality is that no one can say who is right and who is wrong. Our job as users is not to be judgmental. It’s like an election where four different exit polls throw different winners and the real winner is someone else! The sample sizes for the 2004 General Elections exit polls were around 125,000 individuals. Despite that, the results were different from what was predicted. And let’s bear in mind that it was a single considered decision which was being asked, as opposed to a non-involved decision about choice of channels.”
Like Kaul, Nayak, too, pointed to a few factors that worked in favour of aMap, “While TAM data comes once in a week, aMap gives you overnight ratings and the data are not collected manually. Instead, the central server dials the home meter and downloads the data via GSM technology making it the safest data logically. aMap also gives you data by occupation, which is useful for channels.”
It should be noted that as per TAM Media Research, 2005 has seen continuous decline in shares of NDTV, while channels like Zee News and STAR News have been gaining ground. On the other hand, aMap data have reversed the trend for NDTV. The same is the case with Zee TV’s ‘Time Bomb’, which was on an upward trend as per aMap and a downward one as per TAM.
Giving the channel’s point of view on this, Nayak makes a telling point, “The differing numbers point out that with the same number of boxes in the cities, the results even by random sampling are different. I am not an expert in statistics, but ideally trends should be similar.”
Kaul agrees with Nayak’s view and adds, “It is for the industry to see that we have a problem on hand. There are two research data here, with no reason to accept one and not the other – and they have such varying results! Surely something is amiss somewhere and this needs to be answered before more and more of advertiser money is invested on the basis of data.”
Despite the issues raised by NDTV and Zee, TAM Media Research does appear to have an upper hand and the communication from different channels based on different data has not led to any confusion, just yet. To begin with, none of the media agencies are making plans based on aMap data currently. Manjiri Kamat, GM, Maxus Mumbai, informed, “For us TAM Media Research is the Gold Standard data right now. Industry bodies like IBF have as yet not given an okay to aMap. Until such time as aMap data have become more robust and are accepted by industry bodies, we will not be using the data.”
Kamat pointed out reasons like non-coverage of markets and the fact that aMap was still at a nascent stage as standing in the way of their data gaining acceptance. The Media Edge’s National Buying Head, Divya Radhakrishnan, added, “They are in just three markets and have just added more markets, but still aren’t giving an all-India coverage and hence, don’t make sense to our media plans. We are not using aMap at all at present.”
Media professionals clarified that the intention was not to put down any one data. Said Nayak, “Nobody’s methodology or integrity is under question. Census differs from NRS, which is different from IRS – doesn’t mean all of them are wrong. It is up to the industry to come forward and help these agencies who are operating on a shoe-string budget so that better quality data can come out.” Nonetheless, he added, “All we know is that in the markets aMap is present, it has a similar number of meters as TAM and yet the numbers are hugely different.”
But why has NDTV started using aMap data only now, considering that this agency has been around for over a year. “We have been testing their data for over six months now, basis a trial subscription, but since we had not officially subscribed to it, we were not able to use the data earlier. We also wanted to make sure that more markets were covered so that at least all HSM was covered. The data stability factor was also what we were looking for,” Nayak explained.
He further said, “In any case, we don’t link our rates to ratings. By using aMap data showing NDTV India as No. 1 does not mean we are asking our clients for a hike in rates – much in the same way that despite C&S homes going up from 46 million to 61 million homes, the rates didn’t jump by that proportion.”
Media sellers like NDTV and Zee TV are clear that they will speak with the data that works for them. But media buyers are clear that at present they are basing money decisions on TAM. And there could be more confusion ahead with MRUC being in the process of bringing in TV research data.