Although TV rating agency guidelines have been approved by the Union Cabinet, marketers and advertisers are speculative over investments and prefer to wait and watch as the developments unfold. Advertisers and some media planners that exchange4media spoke to mentioned that the guidelines specified by the authority are well intended, but the timing might certainly go wrong as the investment issues still need to be sorted out.
“The question is if the existing agency TAM follows the guidelines, who will pay for it? Had TAM got the required funding, which they are very vocal about, they would have expanded the sample size by now. Who will feed the bill for the existing agency as the guidelines have to be implemented within six months? We are holding our options and are waiting for the next development here,” said a senior official of an FMCG advertiser, on condition of anonymity.
The marketing and advertising community acted as the go-between broadcasters and TAM in 2013, when many channels had withdrawn their subscription from TAM. The marketing fraternity stood by TAM and a consensus was evolved that till the time of an alternate rating mechanism, everyone has to rely on TAM.
The new ratings guidelines, which were recommended by TRAI in 2013, have specified norms on panel homes survey, cross equity holdings, complaint redressal, etc. The recommendations also highlight that a minimum panel size of 20,000 is to be implemented within six months of the guidelines coming into force. Thereafter the panel size shall increase by 10,000 every year until it reaches 50,000.
Observers in the marketing fraternity have highlighted that the logic and basis of the guidelines are robust. The ‘small sample size’ has been the bone of contention between broadcasters and TAM, however, fixing the sample size and all its variations will be a huge task as it would require investments.
Secondly, some media planners also feel that guidelines have been wrongly timed. Speaking in this context, a senior media planer said, “Let BARC come into existence first. Let us have two robust agencies providing ratings. Let us see how the model of ‘self regulation’, as proclaimed by BARC, works. Apart from this, six months time is too less. These technical upgradations take time. We should together work towards creating a business environment in the ratings, which is led by market rule of demand and supply and not instant changes, which the regulator expects.”
BARC is holding a press conference on January 20, 2014, where it is expected that the industry body shall be highlighting its preparedness with the latest guidelines that have come into picture.
Although advertisers have diluted their TV budget to a certain extent in the last two years, television remains the strongest pitch in India when comes to mass advertising. Meanwhile, marketers and their planners are playing it safe at the moment.