Prachi Srivastava
Points of View

What do advertisers and planners expect from BARC?

The Broadcast Audience Research Council is expected to release its first set of television audience measurement data on April 29. A look at what the expectations of stakeholders - marketers and media agency executives - are from the new measurement system.

The wait is almost over. The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) is set to release its television audience measurement data tomorrow, April 29. The data, at the initial level, will be household data. It is only later that the organisation will start sharing individual data.

BARC, in February this year, had shared that it is ready with the ad spot monitoring service, which provides data on ad spots and promos, similar to TAM's AdEx. The body will now help stakeholders with television viewership data across various genres.

What do advertisers and planners expect from BARC?
It is pertinent to note here that media agencies and broadcasters have terminated/discontinued their contract with TAM. BARC, therefore, is the only currency that the industry will follow, going forward.

afaqs! caught up with marketers and media agency executives to understand their expectations from the new metric system and how it will help them in the future.

Vidhu Sagar, executive vice president, Carat Media India

What do advertisers and planners expect from BARC?
There is a sense of anticipation because it's a fairly monumental step forward for the Indian media industry. We have been talking about this for a long time and now effectively, with BARC finally coming into being and the end of the rigorous process, we will finally get to see the outcome. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so let's see whether all the hype and news, generated for months now, bears fruit or not.

Beyond that, we are looking at how the new changes like looking at viewers - urban and rural combined; how exactly we'll get NCCS reflection in this round of research; how the new technology turns out to be. Also, let's not forget the entire raison d'etre of why BARC came into being: it all started with TAM being found inadequate in its sample size and the attendant issues linked to that. Now, even if the proposed sample size of 50000 hasn't been reached yet, whatever be the larger number BARC is starting off with, does it throw anything more robust in terms of discoveries and findings, or are we just going to get some more of the old wine in a new bottle.

Another big difference from a user standpoint is in the interface they have used. BMW Barc Media Workstation is the nomenclature BARC is using. It seems simpler and much more user-friendly than TAM's Media Xpress software. The data that is coming out, presented to us in the shape of this interface - as I recall from one of the sessions, does away with lot of constraints that TAM's software was imposing on us. You can get into final cuts of the data, just the way you want, without too many steps. We are yet to see how the data gets populated in the software, and how we are able to get more meaningful insights. So, I wouldn't want to jump the gun, but we are all excited.

Pravin Kulkarni, GM - marketing, Parle Products

What do advertisers and planners expect from BARC?
What do advertisers and planners expect from BARC?
I don't think there will be any drastic difference in terms of viewership ratings in the BARC's universe, as compared to TAM's. Having said that, the solidity of data is quite better as the base sample is very high. It is 20,000 households right now, which they are planning to take to 50,000 over a period of time. The new definition of SEC is worth taking note of.

They are also going to rural which will ultimately improve the data quality. Right now, there are not much activities other than IPL, and for the rest of the properties, we are looking at the past data. BARC's data should not take more than two to three months to stabilise. For companies which are having significant base of consumers in rural markets, earlier they could not rely on TAM data, but now they can on BARC. Even for us 45-50 per cent of sale comes from rural markets for Parle G, Glucose. BARC will, thus, make a significant difference to us.

Shripad Kulkarni, CEO, Allied Media

Firstly, it is commendable that it is on course. BARC looks at a lot more robust system, overall. That is the plan and once it stabilises is when we will really know what it is delivering. So far, so good. There aren't any surprises so far. I am pretty positive that it will stabilise to a currency that everybody can use. Having said that, there is still a long way to go. But, a correct thing they are doing is to regularly share updates and plans openly - they are in the public domain for everybody to understand which gives satisfaction to all the stakeholders.

There is more robustness, better sampling...and if an industry body is controlling a research, it is more neutral, as they are taking care of the conflicts. That makes a big difference as there are no business perspectives to it. You have checks and balances that make sure no conflict of any interest arises. Also, the move to new SEC is a big thing that we are looking forward to. Additionally, it is heartening that 30 per cent of the sample will be from rural India.

Mallikarjun Das, CEO, India at Starcom MediaVest Group

We are all waiting with bated breath. We want to see if BARC is nuanced enough to capture the sensitivities of television viewership, is it robust enough and does it have sufficient variations to help us make discriminatory media plans across different segments, as we have a new classification system now.

What do advertisers and planners expect from BARC?
What do advertisers and planners expect from BARC?
What do advertisers and planners expect from BARC?
There are a few things we are going to get information on, and I am looking forward to that. One being that we are going to get ratings on HD homes as we currently get aggregated ratings on HD homes. Second, the ratings of rural households and third, viewership of catch-up TV, since BARC will also measure recorded, catch-up television. I'm also looking forward to how the data is across NCCS. It is an inversion of the pyramid versus old SEC. There are 31 per cent houses in NCCS A, whereas 16 per cent in SEC A. There are only 30 per cent of homes in NCCS D&E, whereas in the old SEC, there were 50 per cent homes in SEC D&E.

Another interesting thing is that the age-group segmentation is not on the classical 4-14 years or 15-24; BARC is reporting it on a life-stage basis. There are toddlers, teens, young adults, young working adults and so on. I want to see how that's going to change my life as a planner.

Kamal Basu, marketing head, Volkswagen

Anything that is a syndicated study is a value. We tend to look at it very seriously, because it has a lot of content from the market. However, we use that more as a directional support rather than a decision-making support. There is always room for what we believe is gut-feel. While people have discontinued TAM, we are still relying on past data. We will see the BARC report to understand what are the measures and parameters they have evaluated, and basis that we will take guidance from our media partners.

There was some fatigue and issue with the previous television audience measurement reports, and I am assuming that BARC would be a new, refreshed way of looking at things. I also think that it is about time. Media landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years, and I think the way we, as marketers, approach the media landscape, is different than the way we used to do three years ago. I am assuming BARC will look into this in a more contemporary way, as we look at media, and help give us direction in the space. We are eagerly waiting for BARC reports to see what kind of value-adds they can bring to the table.

Karthi Marshan, head - marketing, Kotak Mahindra Group

We are expecting to get good data and that we will be able to scientifically plan better. That's the expectation from any service provider. And since it's an industry initiative, hopefully, that will happen.

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