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If publishers behave themselves IRS will come out regularly: Sam Balsara

19-January-2018
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If publishers behave themselves IRS will come out regularly: Sam Balsara

Sam Balsara,Chairman and Managing Director of Madison World, has perhaps witnessed all the IRS reports released since the inception of world's largest readership survey in the 1970s.  As the latest IRS 2017 reveals its findings after a gap, we speak to Balsara to find out how is this one better than the past surveys and how it can still get better. Excerpts
Sir, you are an industry veteran who has seen many IRS surveys. How are the findings this year and how can the ad world benefit from this long-awaited survey?
I think the findings are very encouraging. The 40% increase in total readers share comes at a time when around the world, the readership is coming down. I’ll say that the real extract value from this additional readership that is available, what the publisher should be doing is that he should be coming out with special packages that incentivize advertisers. I think only when advertisers take three or four insertions in a month, would you be able to take advantage of that 40% additional readership. I think if such packages are available then advertisers should possibly consider taking three or four insertions in a month and that way they’ll be able to have a 40% higher
reach rather than just adding to OTS. I think, for me, this is the single biggest trend that could emerge if publishers were to act upon it and it is the big opportunity, in my mind, for publishers.

There were too many controversies around the last survey. The body took its measures to fix it. As a veteran, how do you find this one different and has it justified the gap of four years?
It might be same in some ways but it’s different in other ways and richer in many ways. I think it was quite good to have this one-month comparison of reach unlike before when they would take only a single say's sample. Also, I think the number of quality checks brought to ensure that none takes advantage of the information of the survey being done there or misuses it in any way is a good thing. I believe that all this should go a long way.
How do you think we can improve it further? 
In my view, I think if the publishers behave themselves then it should come out regularly. In the sense, everyone tries to get some undue advantage while doing this survey. For example, somebody does a special promotion when the study is going on. These all things should not be done. It tends to artificially inflate their numbers.

As per the report,  mobile penetration is more than 90% but online readership does not match it. What is your take on that?
I’m little surprised at that. I thought that figure would be higher than at least 10%. That too, that the 4 % figure is read in last one month so it’s not even read daily. Even if we have read it once on the Internet in the last 30 days then it’s counted and that number is going to be 4 % . This is an all India survey, all put together, we tend to make a mistake of taking it as Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore and are conditioned to do that. So this 4% is representative of the whole of India. When you see it through this lens, it’s not too bad.
I think the radio numbers were pretty good and it is emerging. From what I remember, the reach of radio is as good as reach of digital.

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