To fulfil the need to measure internet usage, so as to facilitate marketers, IMRB International has launched the Web Audience Measurement (WAM). The WAM system is a joint effort of IMRB International and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
The service will not just measure how many people access the Net, but also their profile by age, sex and demographics, which regions they come from and their usage habits.
The meter is capable of capturing internet usage data from multiple machines and still attribute to the same panellist. It also allows the flexibility of capturing only the panel member's data, in case the machine is used by multiple users. The meter can capture data from multiple browsers (all versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox).
The data reporting is done through the Media Xpress tool, customised for the internet market. The reporting tool, called Web Xpress, allows pre and post media planning, duplication analysis and profiling, apart from the usual trending tools. The tool is also capable of reporting at day level and at day-part level.
The service was triggered by the lack of currency that determines the success of online campaigns. According to IMRB, the online media agencies and publishers have so far been using estimates and measurements that are convenient to them, but which leads to confusion among advertisers.
On the development, Thomas Puliyel, president, IMRB International says, "With WAM, we can fully realise the potential of the internet as an advertising and marketing medium. We will be able to measure the effectiveness of the medium in terms of reach and frequency, just like any other medium."
Media experts have welcomed the initiative as well. Vikram Sakhuja, chief executive officer, South Asia, GroupM says, "We welcome this initiative. It is great to see solid market research fundamentals being used along with digital technology to do Web measurement."
Announcing the launch, a panel discussion titled 'Internet Works!' was held in Mumbai, which saw Sam Balsara, chairperson, Madison World; R Gowthaman, leader, South Asia, Mindshare; Nitin Mathur, director, marketing, Yahoo! India and Puliyel discussing the scope of marketing on the internet. The discussion was moderated by LV Krishnan, chief executive officer, TAM Media Research.
Balsara observed that the perception so far has been that media agencies do not understand the digital medium; and everyone thinks it is the agency's responsibility to explain the digital potential to the advertiser.
"Digital is now ready to take off. Advertising is a big boys' game. For any medium to get into the game, it must get the attention of the big boys, which digital is getting now," said Balsara, as he referred to the fast moving consumer goods brands as being the 'big boys'.
According to Balsara, for a medium to be recognised seriously, it must establish its brand building power; and measurement of a medium further builds confidence among the advertisers. Drawing parallels, he said, "The reason outdoor has not grown is because the advertiser and the agency lack confidence in the medium."
Following Balsara, Mathur noted that one must move away from media metrics and focus more on brand metrics for best results.
Gowthaman stated that there needs to be a shift in perspective. "We must start looking at digital as a marketing medium, and not an advertising medium. It is important to know how central the idea is to the brand. We still have a long way to go," he said.
Through the discussion, further key points were made by Balsara, as he said that data is more meaningful when it comes from a recognised body that everyone can use, without wasting much time questioning or debating the data.
"Any data from a media owner is completely meaningless. I always urge media owners not to waste time on arriving at estimates. Third party data is much more meaningful."
Towards the end of the discussion, Mathur said that it is important to speak a common language.
"Unlike television and radio, a lot of work needs to be done on monetisation of the web as an advertising vehicle," said Mathur.