BARC India CEO, Dasgupta spoke to Janine Stein, editorial director, Content Asia, at vdonxt asia 2018.
Marketers across the globe, in the recent past, have come out in the open to share their concerns on Digital media's lack of transparency. Digital viewership data comes from the platform itself and people have started questioning that data because the metrics of two different platforms can be totally different from each other. One platform says 30 seconds, another says it is 20 seconds and for some it's 3 seconds; there is a lack of standardisation. There is, therefore, no clear assessment of a Return on Investment, which is considered a big problem globally. In India, the Broadcast Audience Measurement Council's (BARC) digital measurement service and products, under the brand name - EKAM ('one' in Sanskrit) - is expected to be the solution to the problem. When it rolls out it will measure video across different pipes and offer marketers a far more standardised analysis.
But the roll-out of EKAM is itself a big challenge as it needs to have all the digital video platforms, Indian and International, on the same table. At vdonxt asia 2018 (the annual digital video convention organised by afaqs!), Janine Stein, editorial director, Content Asia, was face to face with Partho Dasgupta, chief executive officer, BARC India and they discussed EKAM in detail.
Partho: We are in the business of measuring video content - whatever may be the pipe. We measure TV right now; EKAM is the next step to measuring video on digital devices. EKAM means 'one'; we are trying, eventually, to build a platform that broadcasters and content creators can use for monetisation. Also, advertisers and agencies can see the same video across different pipes. So, who's watching and how much they are watching becomes much more transparent.
Partho: Yes, it is.
Partho: A couple of days ago, I was at a similar conference and everyone was talking about how we needed to change the ecosystem and measurement is one part of it; and how advertisers and agencies should change from print and TV buying to digital buying. That is what we are trying to do. The biggest thing that we are working on, and we are fairly on our way there, is achieving consensus. That is the biggest challenge. We have so many players from India and the international ones, that there's a huge amount of diversity. Breaking down the walls of walled gardens and achieving consensus in methodology etc., are big things.
Partho: The carrot is money; the money that you will make once you monetise. Stick? It's not right to talk about that.
Partho: Measurement will very much be at the core. What we want to do eventually, over a period of time, is to create a larger marketing cloud where all kinds of data streams, including TV, digital, telecom, consumption etc., can all come together. That's the large thought we are toying with.
Partho: That's one of my favourite topics. TV around the globe is panel-based. Countries like Korea and Singapore, which are well-penetrated and very well digitised, even they use a panel and not census. The digital that we are planning to do, is complete census-measurement. So when we do this, there would be one panel and one set of census-based data. But, if I throw myself a crystal gaze, I would love to see TV become census-based. How? I don't know... but I would like that. One very simple thing to say is that if data from all set-top boxes installed in homes, comes back, it becomes a census, in a way. If we all had Smart TVs, which in India is a big journey (but not for Korea or Singapore), then the return path for data could come from that platform. So, it's not impossible, but there are a lot of things that need to come into play, including distribution etc.
Partho: When we launched in September of 2015, since then, in a year and a half, we did about 18 upgrades, purely based on what broadcasters and agencies were talking about. As we speak, we have rolled out another one and in the next three months, we will be launching yet another. We continuously do that and it's coming from the customer's end and what they want.
Partho: I wouldn't say it's pushback, as everyone has their own way, but we are trying to find a way that could work best for all of us. Everybody wants it but wants it in a certain way.
Partho: We have not really made many compromises and have stood our ground. Only if we think it works, have we gone ahead and added certain things. It's like we wanted to reach somewhere and we found a different route to reach the same destination.
Partho: We have a technical committee; Shashi (Sinha) chairs the committee. We have all the big broadcasters, YouTube, Facebook, everybody on the same table. So everybody is working together to achieve the consensus.
Partho: When will you roll-out EKAM...
Partho: Coming Soon... (smiles)
Partho: If you are confident of your product you will have no problem with transparency.