Accurate and reliable Readership Measurement Matrices need of the hour
Manajit Ghoshal, CEO, Mid-Day Infomedia
My first experience with the modalities of a readership survey happened a few months back. I was going through the IRS form and was shocked to see that it is almost a 50-page document. The questions in the document relate to everything from which hair oil brands do the respondent use to which ''''agarbatti'''' brands they use.
The question about print media readership starts almost after the 25th page and is just a four-page questionnaire out of the total of 50 pages. I immediately asked all my colleagues, industrial leaders and even friends at agencies as to whether any of them or their friends or their relatives has ever been a respondent to such a survey, and the answer from everyone was in the negative.
Even our own experience at Mid-Day has been an eye opener. We conducted a brand track survey with one of the most reputed agencies, when we went into the details of the field work done by them we found an absolute disconnect from the mandate given to them. While the mandate given to them was to interview young professionals, on checking, most of the respondents were found to be either supervisors of transport companies or clerks and peons. And this was only a 15-page form!
My concern is if one of the best research agencies in the country cannot get quality respondent for a 15-page form, then who are the guys who are responding to a 50-page form.
I have heard noises within MRUC that they themselves are dissatisfied with the quality of field work, but still media buying agencies continue to use the findings of the survey as a major tool for media buying.
Will such haphazard surveys and such questionable findings continue to drive the Rs 10,000 crore print advertisement industry? Or are there alternatives available to this? INS has recently constituted a committee to give guidelines for such surveys to the National Readership Study Council, which conducts the National Readership Survey (NRS).
It was heartening to see that these recommendations were in the right direction, and if implemented properly, will lead to a more scientific analysis. But the problem, of one of the recognised agencies following a more scientific approach and the other continuing in the same mould, is that there will be major differences in the results of the two surveys and it will compound the confusion. Hence, it is imperative that all agencies involved in this readership survey follow a more rational and pragmatic approach rather than ask a million questions to a respondent to increase the usability of such reports for multiple clients.
An accurate and reliable Readership Matrix is the need of the hour for media owners, buying agencies as well as clients. INS has taken steps in the right direction to set this anomaly right, and we all need to contribute to see this through.