Advertising industry bodies join forces behind TAM

By , agencyfaqs!, na | In Advertising | September 13, 2001
A joint release by the ISA and the AAAI says "the current model used to measure TV viewership or TRPs is one of the best in the world."

agencyfaqs! news bureau,

The TAM-INTAM imbroglio has elicited myriad responses from all of the stakeholders - broadcasters, market research agencies, advertising agencies, advertisers et al. The latest missive comes in the form of the joint statement by the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI). The AAAI release says the relevant committees of the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) met on September 11 in Mumbai to examine the issues thrown up by the media leak of the Mumbai list of the TAM and INTAM panels.

A release says, "The two industry bodies reviewed statistical and other information presented by their research partners and came to the conclusion that the current model used to measure TV viewership or TRPs is one of the best in the world, and that the sanctity of the data had not been tampered with. It therefore remains the best system available to evaluate television viewership." They also expressed deep concern that there seemed to be an unfortunate attempt "to discredit this system by certain vested interests who appeared to be using the leakage of certain lists to denigrate the entire measurement system."

The ISA and the AAAI reiterated the current peoplemeter-based TRP system "is essential for professional media buying". The release states the ISA and the AAAI have instructed their technical committee and research partners to build in measures to ensure that the process is "as foolproof as possible" and also devise mechanisms "to identify and correct contamination at any level".

At the meeting, the ISA was represented by Bharat Patel of Procter & Gamble (chairman, managing committee, ISA), Arun Adhikari of Hindustan Lever, and Ravi Kant of TELCO. The AAAI was represented by Ramesh Narayan of Canco Advertising (president, AAAI), Anil Kapoor of FCB-Ulka Advertising, Sam Balsara of Madison Communications and Goutam Rakshit of Advertising Avenues.

To put things into perspective, the ISA and AAAI, along with some leading TV broadcasters, had formed a Joint Industry Body (JIB) to establish a peoplemeter-based TRP system that was "authentic, honest and affordable". That was in the mid-nineties. A high-level technical committee formed by the JIB had evaluated several research agencies before appointing AC Nielsen, the largest market research and viewership measurement agency in the world, and IMRB, to formed what is known as TAM. Talking exclusively to agencyfaqs!, Sam Balsara, said, "We wanted an international MR agency with prior experience in running such a system. So AC Nielsen and IMRB came together - AC Nielsen was to bring in the technology and IMRB the Indian perspective."

The release seeks to address some of the key questions raised during the TRP debate. First, the issue of the sample size and the demographic profile. Second, the issue of data tampering.

It seems the sample size and the sampling procedure adopted by TAM was ratified by JIB's technical committee. Keeping in mind the complex ethnicity and diversity of the Indian market, 119 meters per million homes were installed. This compares with 53 meters per million homes in the USA. For Mumbai, the stratification of the sample was kept in line with the demographic profile of the user audience, but weighted in favour of SEC A so that viewership measurement of this class becomes even more reliable (as most TV advertisers focus products for top-class consumers, according to the release).

For example, while 15 per cent of Mumbai's population belong to SEC A, 25 per cent of the TAM sample belong to this class. TAM also used state-of-the-art meters adapted to suit the Indian environment. The TAM panel has been operating only for three years and 20 per cent of the panel is retired every year.

"Of the current panel of 312 homes in Mumbai, 35 per cent appear in the circulated list. TAM was asked to validate the TRPs of the exposed list against those of the total list, and the fact that there was no variation in TRPs between the two lists demonstrates that the sanctity and integrity of the data has been maintained," says the AAAI release.

So is everybody satisfied? Not yet. "By all accounts the release appears very defensive," opines a media specialist, who has watched the events very closely. "As the prime mover of TAM, would they (ISA, AAAI) have said anything else? In any case, it (the release) overlooks one key fact. The technical committee that is supposed to oversee the whole thing hasn't met in the last 15/16 months."

To that Balsara says, "The frequency of these meetings are much higher in the early days. When the system began to run smoothly, obviously the frequency began to decline."

More questions. "Why are we comparing India with the US (referring to the data in the release which says India has 119 meters per million homes vis-a-vis the US which has 53 meters per million homes)? India is much more heterogeneous than the US. Let's see how we compare to the UK, which is supposed to have the most sound TRP system. And why don't they call for an independent audit of the ratings data in the first place?"

Muses a Delhi-based MR professional, "Who knows if there are more lists out there being hawked for Rs 5,000 (like the earlier ones, which, it seems, were up for grabs for anything between Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 in Mumbai for over two months now)"

Any answers?

© 2001 agencyfaqs!