is clear: a new tool to measure the efficacy of advertising on radio is a coming-of-age sign for the Rs 250-crore radio industry in the country. TAM Media Research, in association with Nielsen Media Research and IMRB International, is all set to roll out its radio audience measurement tool, RAM. Beginning September 2007, the ratings will be made available on a weekly basis, initially in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
RAM will employ the 'diary method' to measure listenership across cities in India. This method is widely practised in places such as the US, the UK and Australia. Radio advertising in India witnessed a growth of 58 per cent over last year. Mark Neely, director, media research, Nielsen Media Research, observed that as markets diversify and the number of radio stations increase, listenership also rises substantially.
Interestingly, MRUC's ILT, which until now was the only measurement technique to track radio listenership, is conducting a pilot test to gauge the right tool for measuring radio listenership. It is in the process of implementing a coincidental method to check which of the two measurement tools - the 'diary method' or the 'day-after-recall' (DAR) method - is appropriate for the dynamic market.
However, radio broadcasters don't seem too pleased with MRUC's initiative. Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, and subscriber to ILT, says MRUC has been rather ineffectual in evolving the right technique for radio audience measurement. "With so many radio stations coming up and spreading, we clearly need a better means to measure listenership. Moreover, RAM is backed by international expertise," says he.
Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, too, feels the credibility attached to RAM is stronger, thanks to Nielsen Media Research and IMRB. She adds though that what really makes the difference is the methodology adopted. "The diary method certainly scores over DAR and will help provide more accurate data." According to Purohit, the DAR method is ineffective because the listener is influenced by the promotions on the radio station while identifying the station to which he listened.
Advertisers seem to be awaiting the data eagerly. Rahul Welde, general manager, Media Services, HLL, says, "We welcome RAM because it will pave the way for a better manifestation of facts and quality of data, hence giving a better picture." He says this move will be beneficial for HLL as the company plans to grow its radio spends significantly in the future.
Of course, there are a few cautious advertisers like ICICI Bank, which would first like to evaluate the kind of data churned out by RAM. But Tina Singh, head, corporate brand, at the bank, echoes Welde's sentiments, saying, "We desperately needed another measurement technique. We invest significantly in advertising on radio, but we haven't been able to track the efficacy of advertising on the medium yet."
Though optimistic about the new measurement system, Lynn de Souza, director, Lintas Media Services, believes that MRUC's evaluation will throw open good insights. "MRUC is conducting an impartial study to evaluate the right measurement tool for radio listenership," she says. "Though the diary method may be better, it may not be a good idea for implementation in smaller cities."
Evidently, there are a lot of expectations from TAM Media Research's new tool. It will be interesting to note what inferences MRUC derives from its pilot test. Two different measurement techniques for radio listenership could well be a possibility.