We are 9 to 12 months away from deploying TV+Digital measurement: Sunil Lulla

Speaking at the e4m TV First Conference, BARC CEO Lulla noted that the audience may spend time on TV and digital, so both forces will co-exist as they have their own inherent strengths

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Apr 28, 2021 8:57 AM  | 5 min read
e4m tv first sunil lulla

Broadcast Audiences Research Council India (BARC India) CEO Sunil Lulla said that the audience measurement body is on the path to measure TV as well as digital screens in order to offer better visibility to content owners and advertisers on the cross-media content consumption habits. 
Speaking at the e4m TV First webinar, Lulla said BARC is 9-12 months away from deploying TV+Digital measurement. BARC has been making efforts to get the digital players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on-board besides other platforms like Facebook and Google to offer common video measurement but to no avail.

Lulla said that audience is going to spend time on TV as well as digital assets. Both the forces will co-exist as they have their own inherent strengths. TV, he said, is a big advertising medium for brands to reach families together and to create an image on the bigger screen.

"Because we are conscious of this journey, BARC has already embarked and initiated progression to be able to measure audiences on both screens and the most important thing is to put together what is the common factor to those who watch TV and digital. It gives advertisers an effective deployment of their own investments and it gives them a neutral currency. We are 9 to 12 months away from deploying this in the marketplace but that's where we are headed," Lulla said at the event during a Q&A session.

In his opening remarks, Lulla noted that the total TV households in the country have grown by 6.9% to 210.2 million homes with most of that growth happening in rural. He also said that the share of TV homes belonging to NCCS A and B increased by 14 million and 11 million respectively. "There are still 100 million homes that don't own a TV set," Lulla said highlighting the opportunity in the Indian broadcasting market.

The total ad volume of the Top 10 advertisers went up from 38% of total ad volume to 42% of total ad volume. This, Lulla said, is despite three months of lockdown. Co-viewing continues to be high as TV is the medium for family. According to Lulla, brands woo families because of co-viewing. He noted that the news and kids genres have seen good growth.  

Talking about Prasar Bharati's strategy of airing re-runs of Mahabharat and Ramayan, Lulla said that the public broadcaster followed a sound strategy as the viewership growth came from both Men and NCCS A. "What is interesting is that not only did DD have a big growth and Ramayan became the most-watched TV show of 2020 and the biggest in the world but we also saw ad volumes really surge."

He said that the ad volume growth was driven by the essential products/services category. "In AMJ (April, May, June), even while there was lockdown in most of India, ad volumes grew because essential goods and services were the ones that were pushing the ad volume growth over there, and DD was the trusted source with a classic, which was like a balm in fearful times, and mythological content served to establish that trust. I think it was a very smart move by Prasar Bharati to bring back Ramayan and Mahabharat back at that point in time."

In Q1 of 2020, the ad volumes were reasonably stable slightly coming down in Q2 and going up in Q3 and Q4. So H2 (July-December) saw a big growth of 12% over 2019 and the first half saw a big de-growth or a drop-down in 2020 vs 2019.

"Overall, volume was softer at 3% as it was the second half which started to push the ad volumes up, and brands leveraged TV's mass reach to fuel their business revival. Many categories and brands pushed this up. If you look at Q1 of 2020 or the latest quarter you see a growth in FMCG from 55.3% going to 61.6% and FMCG continues to advertise heavily on TV. 36% growth in Q1 2021 compared to the prior quarter of 2020. Big growth over there.

"Building/paints/cement, which saw a sharp drop during the lockdown period to 2%, is back at 4%. Even Auto saw growth compared to the third quarter in lockdown last year coming back to the first quarter. Durables and Retail, which continue to be almost flat compared to Q1 2020, saw an upswing in Q4 due to Diwali and the festive season. "But retail we know because of significant restrictions and safety reasons did not have the desired walk-ins but remained stable. We saw volume growth across the board and these were the categories that boosted," Lulla stated.

He added that cyclical sectors also started increasing their ad spends and many categories have restored their exposure on television with some even surpassing pre-covid levels. "You would assume that digital native advertisers will choose digital but they chose TV because they knew their audiences they were accessible and it was the best time to convert them while they were at home and you can see that peak in AMJ and going all the way till almost November when it starts coming below last year," Lulla expounded.

The ad volumes of digital services brands like Amazon and Byju's saw an uptick. Amazon's ad volume was up by 33% over 2019. Amazon Prime Video's ad volumes went up by 28%. Policy Bazaar witnessed a 215% increase while Byju's and Spotify increased ad volume share by 87% and 48%. "Ad volumes by digital services went up and it led to the adoption of digital products and services," he said.

Apart from digital native advertisers, the government messaging on Covid also increased during AMJ growing 17% in Q2 from 3% in Q1. Covid related communication is 5%+ of all volume communication and it has again risen to 6%.

"TV ad volumes jumped 24% to 456 million seconds in Q1 2021 as advertisers looked to build their businesses and a lot of brands coming on TV. The total advertiser count has declined by 11% to 4180. Fewer advertisers spending more on television perhaps categories that have gone out don't use the category as effectively some of them due to supply chain-related issues. Mass genres like news, GEC, and movies drive ad volume growth," Lulla revealed.

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