Straight after the election results were announced, news channels decided to invest all their energy into another ‘result’ – the winner in the audience stakes.
So Times Now released ads tom-tomming itself for being the number one English news channel. All very well, except for the God in the details, in 8 pt type in a corner of the ad. First problem, it quotes aMap and not TAM. Second problem, it slices and dices the audience to suit itself and ‘allows’ Times Now to win.
CNN-IBN, too, released ads saying it was the No. 1. It quotes TAM figures, and that’s good, and it doesn’t slice and dice, which is better.
Then, last morning, NDTV released an ad saying that it was the number one channel and I wondered what slicing and dicing they were doing. I looked for the details that God is in and discovered that NDTV was No. 1 according to research commissioned by themselves. No aMap, no TAM.
And no credibility.
When you release ads like this, you could be talking to two possible targets: the consumer or the trade.
I doubt that the consumer even bothers about the number one status of any channel, more so the news channels. Consumers have a fairly good idea of which news channel they trust the most, which news channel is closest to their set of beliefs, and so on. If the consumer’s favourite channel happens to be the leader, fantastic. If it is not, it doesn’t matter. It will still remain that particular consumer’s favourite channel – for some time to come. Changing a consumer’s media consumption habit is a long and arduous task.
Ads claiming leadership when none exists is likely to make the consumer trust you less. If you can lie about so small an issue, why would I believe the more important reports from you at all?
As for the other target, the trade, I’m flummoxed. Those who do not use aMap don’t care – and that’s almost all of the trade. Media planners, for the moment, rely on TAM, and as far TAM data is concerned, it unequivocally shows CNN-IBN as the winner in the election sweepstakes. Times Now’s aMap numbers don’t matter. As far as NDTV’s commissioned survey is concerned, why would I even look at it when clients buy based on TAM data?
One simple truth: when consumers or the trade see three ads from three channels all claiming to be the Number One, they know that two of the three channels are liars.
News media, the world over, relies more on credibility and influence than on numbers. Why does the Indian news media think the situation is any different in India?
Unless, of course, they can’t deliver on the credibility and influence areas?