Marketers welcome IRS 2013 data with a pinch of doubt

The revalidation of the IRS 2013 data may help bring some advertisers back to the print medium, but the frequent controversies over its accuracy may have dented its credibility, say experts

e4m by Abhinn Shreshtha and Collin Furtado
Updated: Aug 22, 2014 8:28 AM
Marketers welcome IRS 2013 data with a pinch of doubt

The recent revalidation of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2013 report has evoked mixed responses from the industry. While the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) is keen to move beyond the doubts cast over the data and research findings, we spoke to advertisers and marketers on the impact of this revalidation and its timing.

Data crucial, decision welcome   

The main concern around the IRS 2013 was its accuracy. Many marketers are of the opinion that this revalidation of the data, the audit report and its acceptance by the heads of the four industry bodies (MRUC stands by IRS 2013 results; industry headed for another flashpoint) is good news.  

Sanjay Tripathy, ‎Senior EVP & Head (Marketing, Product, Digital & E-Commerce), HDFC Life Insurance, is of the opinion that the survey conductors had extrapolated the data too much. “This revalidation is good for marketers as the industry needs the IRS data. This decision will also help in the next round of IRS,” said Tripathy. When asked about the importance of IRS 2013 to marketers, Tripathy said that the data about customer profiles is crucial. “This really helps marketers by letting them take better, informed decisions and understand the consumer,” he said.

Amit Sharma, CVP Marketing & Head (Media, Research & Customer Value Management),  Max Life Insurance welcomed the development. “Using two-year-old data to plan advertising spends is any day a bad idea. With the festive season around the corner, it is good to have a fresher benchmark,” he said.

Another senior marketer from a leading consumer products company observed that having a measure in print was better than having nothing at all. “The confusion over the accuracy of the data led to advertisers and marketers not spending in the print medium altogether. A flawed measure is better than having none at all,” he said.     

Credibility at stake?

Not all marketers are convinced about the revalidation. Mayank Shah, Deputy Marketing Manager, Parle Products is skeptical about the way the MRUC has been handling the survey. “Now, if it is once in a while, I understand. But if you look at the last few years, you will see that every time they come out with data, there is some issue or the other. This time, the anomalies were glaring, which led to the revalidation. The whole process puts a question mark on the authenticity of the research. And if this trend continues, I don't think advertisers will take IRS very seriously,” he said, adding that the revalidated data will not impact the media plans of advertisers.

Even as advertisers continue to debate over the revalidation, all eyes are on the publishers, who were the first ones to question the accuracy of the report. Agrees Amit Sharma, “The original reason for this delay was caused by one of the affected publications claiming to have compelling internal subscriber data (that was in contradiction to the report's findings).  Though statistical and forensic audits have been completed by reputed industry bodies, one will have to wait and watch how these publications formulate their response,” he said.

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