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Spotlight: Will IRS 2018 meet its deadline?

09-July-2018
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Spotlight: Will IRS 2018 meet its deadline?

In January 2018 when the IRS 2017 data came after a gap of four years, with it came clarity and hope. To make things rosier, there were suggestions of giving regular survey reports, every quarter or half yearly, to help publishers, advertisers and planners make a more robust strategy for their clients. 
However, if industry sources are to be believed, six months later, the Media Research Users Council (MRUC)  is yet to start its field work for the next survey due in January 2019. 
The council that has an ambitious plan of increasing its sample size to 3, 60,000, from 3,30,000, in the next survey, is believed to be struggling with funds and objections from publishers on the questionnaire.
Sources claim that in February- March 2018, the council sent notices to all publishers asking them to pay their subscription fee to help it start with the survey. The MRUC had also sought an increase of around 50% in the price said to cover the cost of research, which has increased due to enhancement. However, even in July, many publishers and agencies are yet to make payments, revealed sources.
“Last six months were lost in getting funds and settling objections raised by publishers to the questionnaire. Now that the council is expanding its base and upgrading its technology, it would need more funds going forward,” said a senior industry person.
Many who paid their dues on time, are upset over lack of action on ground yet. “You can’t blame the council, it’s the entire industry that has to take the onus. We paid our dues on time yet we may have to suffer due to those who continue to err,” said a leading publisher.
Some industry insiders also hinted that the things are moving at a slower pace as the council is scheduled to have elections in the next few months.
However, when contacted for comments, Ashish Bhasin, chairman of the council in his brief reply, said that things are pretty much on track and he doesn’t see any delays.
Another senior marketer, who did not wished to be named said that if we start immediately after rains we shall be able to make it on time. “The survey is a four-five month job, we may just finish a month here and there,” he added. 
On generating quarterly/ half yearly survey reports:
The MRUC has an ambitious plan of eventually giving out quarterly reports on the survey by changing the design of the study. To begin with it is considering making it half yearly. While the proposal has been under discussion for a long time now, sources claim a final decision on it is expected by this September when the council holds its next meeting.
“We are still debating half yearly reporting. No decision is taken yet. Post September-October we will take a final decision,” Bhasin added.
To make the half yearly reports possible, sources claim, the council will have to change its survey design. As of now it has a ‘rolling one’ where in every quarter fresh results are added to the existing survey and the oldest data is removed. “All of this has been in discussion but the decision is pending,” a source added.
Publishers clearly stated that the annual survey in these times is of little help as things are changing at a rapid pace. “Annual survey just gives you a baseline. Considering you are operating under a rate with a client and you want to negotiate on the basis of your readership one can’t do much on the basis of a one-year-old survey. I feel the entire industry has to grow and understand the need for increased maturity vis-à-vis IRS,” added another publisher.

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