Points of View: Will BARC's Rural Data Insights Impact Media Briefs?

By Shweta Mulki , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | September 30, 2015
When buying media spots, how critical will rural viewership patterns be?

As television ratings agency BARC India gears up to enter its second phase with a panel touching 20,000 meters, it will, for the first time, report what rural India is watching. Marketers say that a substantial number of brands have a rural presence and marketing programmes that specifically target rural. Also, experts believe that television has usually been the go-to medium for these brands. So, for both the advertisers and planners, how will these viewership insights impact media briefs when buying television spots?


Pravin Kulkarnii, GM, Marketing, Parle Products

Pravin Kulkarnii

For brands like Parle G and Marie, where rural focus is high and contribution of rural is more, rural viewership will become critical. Even for those categories where rural contribution is less than 50 per cent, rural viewership has to be reconsidered, because we have always been discounting this aspect. The misconception that consumption of premium categories among rural was not so high has been removed by these findings, as almost 50 per cent seems to be coming from rural.

Also, now there are marketers who launch premium products in rural markets first. So, marketers should give more weightage to this segment. We have had television as the main medium for rural, but the importance will be much more now. Other media like print and radio too will have to evolve and create some offerings for rural markets.

Divya Radhakrishnan, Managing Director, Helios Media

Divya Radhakrishnan

The split of urban-rural satellite TV homes is 50:50; until now, half of it was being ignored. There is a huge market out there in rural India where marketers are already present and planning for which was being done using fusion of surrogate data.

Rural India, today, has markets ranging from luxury cars to sachet shampoos. The range is huge and so is the challenge, as the geography covers 80 per cent of India. Local activation, however, is a nightmare and, if done, has a long cycle to endure. TV, being a switch button mechanism, is therefore a great option but dearth of data was a huge challenge. Having said this, the sample needs to become vaster, given the geographical challenge of rural India and its SCR diversities.

Mallikarjun Das, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group India

Mallikarjun Das

There is a fair amount of gut-feel-based decision making on rural India, where putting lot of money into TV could be a sort of thumb rule. So, if data shows me that there is conclusively more FTA viewership, then one could see transfer of advertising monies.

India comprises 65-70 per cent rural population, with about 6000 odd meters for rural. So, how finely can one cut the data? The more finely I slice and dice, the greater the relative error. So, how accurate would the system be for lower-rated programmes?

Another hypothesis is that power availability is 'more patchy' in rural areas, so will time-spent be lower? Also, there are many women who work in the fields, so does 'off-prime' get defined differently here? It would be interesting to see more of the data and check my hypotheses.

Sandeep Komaravelly, Sr. Vice President - Marketing, Shopo

Sandeep Komaravelly

The brief to the media agency doesn't necessarily originate from the sample that is used on BARC ratings or any other ratings instrument that we have.

The brief originates from 'what is it that you want to do from your brand standpoint', and 'what is the audience that you want to target'; then begins the activity to figure out the best way to reach out to the audience. This depends on the best available information. It could be in terms of what segments, channel or medium to consider, and to what extent we can reach out to the TG.

I don't see the brief changing simply because the sample is changing. What will change is the way we are looking at different channels, if the information that is being thrown up is different from what we already know.

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