Romil Ramgarhia, COO, BARC India, moderated a session about the possibility of media moving from sample to census with a possibility of rival companies sharing data in order to form a robust measurement system.
The session also featured MA Parthasarathy, CEO, Mindshare South Asia, Vikas Khanchandani, CEO, Republic TV and Vivek Bhargava, CEO, DAN Performance Group.
Ramgarhia stated that the panel would discuss the measurement from the perspective of video and not from broadcast or narrowcast because the lines are blurring between the two.
Parthasarthy stated the pros and cons of both sample and census. He explained, “The biggest issue is that a census is supposed to be a 100 per cent representation of a country, while what digital gives us are selective representations – they’re either representing the digital audience of a country or a representative of a certain section within the digital audience of a country. So it’s not strictly something you can call a census.”
Republic TV’s Khanchandani added, “If I take broadcast as a medium, with its vast reach, you need a fair representation of the universe. So, today I feel sample is the best way to measure the total volume of audiences that broadcast delivers. Having said that, I do believe census is the way to go in the future. It is a journey and return path data is one of the foundations of getting there. Depending on how we build this return path data which has a fair representation of geographies, markets and platforms will drive towards using a census as a way to be.”
Ramgarhia then asked Bhargava which system will be more relevant going forward, considering countries like the USA still use a panel based system.
Bhargava was all for a census based measurement system. “If census can measure every single household, it’s definitely going to be more effective advertising. When you go back to US and some of the other countries, they still use landlines. India doesn’t. So, when you get a superior technology, most developing countries leapfrog and use it. So, we can do the same thing here – if we can figure out how we can use D2H to actually give a return path, or use mobile phones to act like audio sensors to measure what kind of measure is being played regardless of whether it’s on OTT or broadcast – that will give tremendous amount of value to advertisers, content creators and consumers.”
He added, “The problem is that we’re projecting the behavior of 10,000 people based on one user and hoping he presses the right button when he’s watching that meter. Based on this we’re going to spend 50,000 crore!”
With data available, Ramgarhia asked the panelists whether viewers could be apprehensive of this system because of privacy concerns.
Bhargava believed that this point was a problem that could easily be solved.
“There are healthcare institutions that have few 100 million users, there are financial institutions that have 100 million plus accounts with their data. If anyone ends up sharing what I watch on television, preferably I wouldn’t want it to happen, but I’m okay with it. We can maintain confidentiality of health, financial information, for the fear of privacy – I think it’s a lesser problem. We have to figure a way to keep it secure and I don’t think it’s a problem we can’t solve,” said Bhargava.
Parthasarathy added, “I think the average consumer knows that nothing in life is for free. For some convenience there is a trade off. The only explicit thing and I think it’s getting better over time is how strongly do we actually manage or monitor consent. I give data to a hospital, because I go there with the hope of it being for my benefit and the institution knows what went wrong with me previously. I hope and trust them not to sell that to someone else. The problem with data in the media space is that you don’t know what people are doing with that data. The consent and data protocols have to be there.”