Pritha Dasgupta
Jun 17, 2013

Agencies, advertisers grapple with 'no measurement' norm as more networks pull out of TAM

Planning and buying without currency a challenge; engage through BARC, says AAAI's Arvind Sharma

Agencies, advertisers grapple with 'no measurement' norm as more networks pull out of TAM

More broadcasters have reportedly pulled out of TAM Media Research's TV ratings.

TAM officials declined to comment, as did broadcast representatives. It may be recalled that advertisers and agencies, represented by ISA and AAAI respectively, came out in support of retaining the only TV measurement currency until an alternative is available.

AAAI wants to keep an open mind

Arvind Sharma, president, AAAI and chairman and CEO - India sub-continent, Leo Burnett, told Campaign India, “I can't think that any segment - advertisers, agencies or broadcasters - seriously believes that the business of TV advertising can be conducted without TV ratings. At the same time, broadcasters - as individual players as well as a segment- have some concerns about recent TV rating numbers that prima facie seem to be real. We should approach these concerns with an open mind.”

He added, “AAAI is engaging with all constituents of the industry to find an answer. Our preferred route is via BARC. BARC can be the new Joint Industry Body. Its technical committee has some of the best minds in the industry. They should be mandated by all segments to engage with broadcasters, understand their concerns and engage with TAM in finding answers.”

Growing dilemma for media agencies and advertisers .

In October 2012, when TAM suspended its ratings for two months to avoid discrepancy of data arising out of the transition to digital cable networks that kicked off from 1 November, it was backed by IBF in consensus with the AAAI and ISA. But the recent unprecedented turn of events have left media agencies and advertisers perplexed. Most media agency veterans Campaign India reached out to avoided commenting on the issue saying that they need to 'work in tandem with all the stakeholders in the industry'.

Interestingly, none of the channels that has officially or allegedly pulled out of the TAM rating system, has intimated their decision to media agencies through a formal notification, said agency representatives.

Gautam Kiyawat, CEO, Madison Media Group, said, “I dont think the extreme measure taken by the broadcasters will bring out any easy solution. It's not that TAM is going to shut down. And it will be very difficult for everyone in the ecosystem to live without a currency.”

Talking about what parameters media agencies will use to buy spots in the absence of any metrics, Kiyawat said, “We have done it in the past. In the absence of any ratings we depend heavily on past data.”

Recently, some broadcast networks announced a hike in advertising rate by 25 to 30 per cent on the back of 12-minute cap. But in the absence of any ratings will it possible for channels to command such a hike? Kiyawat said, “I believe it will be a long hard discussion on how to value what's on the table.”

Pratap Bose, chief operating officer, DDB Mudra Group, explained, “There are some benchmarks available for some of the ongoing shows on GECs. But it will be a huge challenge to evaluate new reality shows. These shows will make planning really challenging. Finally it has to be a joint agreement by the advertiser if they want to back the broadcasters. That will be a prudent judgement by the advertiser who at the end of the day will be taking a certain amount of risk.”

Advertisers like HDFC Life continue to follow TAM ratings, terming it the 'only independent study which is universally accepted by all the stakeholders'.

Sanjay Tripathy, executive vice president, marketing, product and direct channels, HDFC Life, said, "In consultation with our media agency we have mutually decided to follow the TAM ratings till such time there is a viable alternative to TAM which is universally accepted by agencies, advertisers as well as the broadcasters."

Campaign India