IRS, You Have Been Missed!

Media Planners are eagerly anticipating the relaunch of the survey after a gap of four years

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Updated: Jan 18, 2018 9:00 AM

Media agencies who have been operating on outdated and unverified data in the absence of the Indian Readership Survey are looking forward to the relaunch of the survey on Thursday in Mumbai. Agency heads are also counting on the survey to finally validate all the assumptions that they have been making for the last four years.
The study was severely missed during the last four years when mobile penetration has been increasing at an exponential pace. “We have felt the absence of IRS in a period of dramatic mobile penetration changing the way media is consumed across both Urban and Rural India,” said Harish Shriyan, CEO, Omnicom Media Group India. Mohit Joishi, ‎Managing Director, Havas Media Group India, said that he too missed the expansive study especially in the area of Rural Segmentation. 
Agencies have been functioning blind for four years during which time newspapers have been hiking ad rates without any formal value being set for the product. “While there will always be debates on opinions and accuracy, having no yardstick is not a great substitute to having one,” noted Vikas Mehta, CEO, PointNine Lintas.
From a print industry perspective, India is one of the few countries in the world where Print is still growing. “The publishing industry was flying pretty much half-blind for as long as four years. From that point of view alone Thursday’s relaunch is very significant - it is a welcome return of IRS,” said Mehta. 
Media planners are awaiting the relaunch as it will finally put an end to the era of negotiations that emerged over the last four years. “Thankfully, now we will have more recent data to be able to recommend options to our clients - which is very critical. Because we have been looking at numbers quoted by publications themselves so there is no veracity to that data,” said Rajni Menon as CEO of Carat, looking forward to the launch of the report.

Anticipation

Aside from perceptions and opinions, agencies have not had any external benchmark to peg one publication against another. “We are therefore looking forward to an objective viewpoint and we are hoping that this will bring a sense of accountability across publications, which a medium as important as print surely needs,” said Mehta.
The IRS was condemned and rejected by around 18 member publications in 2014 for being “flawed”. Therefore, the expectations from the report now are very high. Agency heads believe that Media Research Users Council (MRUC) has conducted a rigorous study and are therefore hoping to see an objective report. “Last time around there was such a mess, so the biggest expectation is that these are numbers that will be accepted by the industry as a whole. The hope is that the numbers are robust and don’t have the discrepancies that were there last time,” said Menon.
Given the checks and balances that have been put in place, media planners are hoping to see an objective report. Menon hoped that since MRUC has delayed the release of the data, they have spent more time verifying and ensuring that the data is credible. Joshi said that he is very happy with the large sample size of the current survey, and hoped that the industry will be in agreement with the data.

Results

Shriyan felt that since the study is coming back after a long gap, it may demonstrate the shifts in the industries better. “The impact on the Print media is also eagerly awaited and we believe that the language publications should have increased in reach and penetration,” he added. One of the anticipations from the report is that it will help validate the claims that publishers have been making for the last few years and the perceptions of the industry at large. “The survey should be a reality check: digital consumption should be going up, print readership should be coming down. From an internet perspective, I hope it shows that there is a huge increase in mobile penetration and how people have been getting into digital through mobile, especially in small towns and villages,” said Joshi.

With Inputs from Naziya Alvi Rahman

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