IRS Q3 2010: And the great AIR-TR debate continues…

Readership measurement comes in for intense scrutiny every time the IRS (Indian Readership Survey) results are released. Every round there is a fight on whether Average Issue Readership (AIR) or Total Readership (TR) is the more relevant metric. And while the debate still rages on, AIR is still winning.

e4m by Nitin Pandey
Updated: Dec 13, 2010 7:23 AM
IRS Q3 2010: And the great AIR-TR debate continues…

Readership measurement comes in for intense scrutiny every time the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) results are released. The Q3 2010 results are no different. Once again the issue of the Average Issue Readership (AIR) and Total readership (TR) has come up for debate. Which one makes for a more relevant industry metric?

Traditionally, AIR had been the only metric that was considered by planners and advertisers alike while creating their media plans. MRUC was also reporting TR at the time too, but the nomenclature used was Claimed Readership (CR). In the year 2006, Claimed Readership (CR) was renamed as Total Readership, and since then the debate of which of the two – AIR and TR – is the relevant metric, has intensified.

The reason to rename was that it was understood that ‘claimed’ gave the impression that the readership was not authenticated. Hence, to “avoid confusion”, CR became TR.

AIR simply means readership of yesterday. For any daily, the period of reference for readership measurement is seven days. If a respondent has read the paper in seven days, he becomes a part of TR. And if he has read it yesterday, he becomes AIR.

AIR rules… TR is finding a place
Putting forward the advertisers’ point of view, Ajay Kakar, CMO, Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group, said, “As an advertiser, we would like to know what amount of readers we would reach even if we take one insertion in any publication. Thus the metric for us is AIR.”

When asked whether TR would become a relevant measure for any plan, he replied, “Not necessarily. TR is the maximum possible reach of any vehicle. As an advertiser, we try and maximise reach by using different vehicles rather than using multiple insertions in the same vehicle.”

Marketers are keener to know what base minimum reach a vehicle could achieve (AIR) as compared to the maximum possible reach of the vehicle (TR).

For R Gowthaman, Leader, Mindshare, South Asia, who is also in the Board of the Media Research User Council (MRUC), AIR is a key metric and TR too has certain relevance. He remarked, “Both AIR and TR have certain relevance in the media plan. For example, if one has to compare reach of mediums across TV and print, then TR is more relevant. And from the media planning point of view, the first insertion measured will always be AIR.”

Divya Radhakrishnan, President, TME, was also amongst those who believed that both TR and AIR had their own roles to play. She explained, “It really depends on the objective of the campaign. When you are looking at a response driven campaign, or anything that is short term in a sense of speaking, you will use AIR as the guideline. However, if it is a long term campaign, then TR can be considered.”

TR for long-term campaigns and magazines?
Rajiv Gopinath, COO, Madison Media Infinity, felt that since there was need for accuracy of readership of their schedules, AIR to that extent was more relevant. He further noted that TR might be relevant for a long running ad association like a sponsorship.

Bringing another point to the discussion, Divya Radhakrishnan observed that since magazines had a longer shelf life, TR was an apt indicator to gauge the performance of a magazine.

On the other hand, Anamika Mehta, COO, Lodestar UM, was categorical that AIR was ‘the’ measure. According to her, “From a publisher viewpoint, TR can be considered, but from a media planner’s perspective, AIR is critical, simply because it includes how often the publication was picked up.”

For Mehta, even for magazines, AIR was the right indicator. As she emphasised that the definition of AIR changed for magazines, so even from a magazine viewpoint, AIR was the measure that one looked at.


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