MxM Mondays | Why do we love to hate Media Measurement?

03 Sep,2012


By Ananya Saha


Media measurement in itself is a very sensitive topic. Every data is looked at with apprehension. Why is it that all measurement statistics are scrutinized with apprehension? Why is it that objections are raised time and again, with regard to the findings? Have we lost faith in media measurement tools? In this edition of MxM Mondays, we spoke to a cross-section of industrypersons on the issue. TAM Media Research did not wish to participate given the current controversy and Nielsen Managing Director-Media was unavailable for comment, though he did speak to MxMIndia on the issue last week – see link)


Lynn de Souza

Lynn de Souza, Chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group (also Chairman of the Readership Studies Council of India)

Ordinarily, it is the ones who are measured who do not like what the measurement index throws up – because in any index there can only a few leaders. So, the majority could have some issue or the other.


It is human nature to then pick on the messenger rather than the message.



Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Futurebrands

Santosh Desai

There are issues with media measurement in its current form. But it is also true that any form of measurement is always resented. The resentment stems from the fact that one, it is quite shallow in approach when it comes to reach and importance. Secondly, it stems from when the mental picture of your media’s reach and influence does not match with the reality of the numbers. It then becomes difficult to reconcile with reality. Third, what with the anecdotal stories about how numbers are arrived at, you tend to believe that you are on the wrong side of the great picture and the statistics are unfair to you.


Personally, I believe that TV needs a new measurement currency. The current currency is also influencing the quality of TV that we watch. The media measurement does not account for engagement and reach, which from advertisers’ perspective is a huge injustice.


On the other hand, the clients need to be ready too to pay for it in case they wish for more clarity in measurement results.


Media measurement, in its current form, needs to be modified. The issues that are highlighted with the current measurement system need to be tackled in a very transparent way. Conceptually, what is being done is not adequate. What can make it less contentious is including more people in the process, and make it much more transparent.


Bharat Kapadia, Chairman, Whatuwant Solutions (also until a few years back:Vice-Chairman, MRUC)

Bharat Kapadia

We do not love to hate media measurement. But we are usually put in such a situation that we hate it. There are two reasons for this. One is ‘legacy’, which we have been following. We have learnt and built the media measurement architecture learning from international models, which are not very suitable for Indian conditions. Secondly, the problem of ‘investment’. We believe in not investing much cash into the measurement system. Like the famous saying goes, ‘If you cut corners, all you get is a round zero.’ This has resulted in the current plight against media measurement. There is, however, a great possibility for change and an opportunity to improve the research methodology and structure. It is not as if current media measurement systems are in bad shape or in pathetic condition. One needs to understand that the current measurement system captures only certain segments, and thus turns unfair since it becomes the currency that everyone abides by. This currency can harm somebody’s business too. The main problem is to have a robust mechanism to check the data collection from where all the problems start.



Sriram Kilambi, President, Bloomberg TV India

Sriram Kilambi

There is a lot that rides on media measurement of the current media industry, which is about Rs 15,000 crore of television media, 10,000 crore of print media and 10,000 crore worth of radio and other media. The industry does not seem to invest in proper measurement tools and mechanisms.


Media measurement currently is sub-optimal. Since there is no other mechanism currently present, we have no option but to trust the numbers presented. The standard errors in the media statistics are too high, that is why the industry cannot seem to trust the data. The media measurement needs more investment.


Why cannot the advertising industry and the media industry come together to formulate and create a coherent measurement system?


Sanjeev Kotnala, VP, Dainik Bhaskar Group

Sanjeev Kotnala

‘When did you quit smoking?’ is the classic trap question. ‘Why do we love to hate media measurement?’ falls in the same category.


‘Love to hate media measurement’ is an involuntary reaction. We all hate report cards. The foundation for that was laid while we were studying. At least for me, this holds true.


Media measurements need to be accepted as an industry yardstick with constructive participation by stakeholders in the process of measurement. Not a Black Box that opens at a regular frequency to decide your fate. Till the process and the results meet expectation, everything is fine.


But when we use media measurement as the final verdict, the problem starts. More so, with a lot at stake on a non-transparent extrapolation of small set of data points. Actually media measurement should have had a wider role in product health measurement and for that people should have been pushing transparently for the qualitative enhancement of methodology and matrices. Sadly, current media measurement systems have not kept pace with industry growth and changing needs.


So it’s not me. And at the stakeholder end when each and every element of media measurement in terms of width and depth, process and transparency does not seem credible or transparent or reflecting ground realities, it is bound to give rise to debate and that normally ends with a love-to-hate situation.


The stage we find ourselves at in the industry is not something new. I believe that objections have been raised by section of users at different point of times in forums and formats. Some media measurement process owners have shown just openness to ideas and changes. Mostly they have been feeling good. Unfortunately, with many fates riding, more questions than answers will be available. Net take out: Not Being Heard? Definitely it will not breed Love.


More so when it is a single monopolistic currency, media measurement tend to lose its credibility. And anyway that only has a B2B importance. For the common men it makes no sense. They do not read, see or listen based on media measurement. They do that when the content touches them. And this traction is visible on ground level much before media measurement can reflect it. This lag makes media measurement redundant and at times irrelevant.


It will always be debated till such time as measurement remains restricted to just the size – a numeric tag and not about impact.


Trust, all stakeholders want a participative, constructive, transparent, collective process. And in that case these bodies must be completely neutral with all relationships at arm’s length. (*This is a personal view and not that of any company/brand, Mr Kotnala represents).



Lloyd Mathias, Director, Greenbean Ventures (Former CMO, Tata Taleservices & Motorola and  Immediate Past Chairman, MRUC)

Lloyd Mathias

Media measurement – whether it is TAM for TV channels or IRS for newspapers – has always been a contentious issue. Usually it’s the media owners who feel aggrieved — especially when the results do not meet their expectations. They then want to shoot the messenger.


There is a strong case for tightening media measurement tools. Often results tend to be inaccurate because media owners try to influence the respondents or the research company. Yes, the measurement methodology and samples need strengthening. For instance, TAM’s sample of 8,500 homes – measuring the television viewing habits of 1.22 billion Indians – is definitely limiting.


Industry stakeholders – advertisers, advertising agencies, media owners and media agencies – need to come together and work towards effective media measurement that benefits all.


It’s currently the advertiser who bears the brunt of the impact as it is their advertising moneys being wasted.



Maheshwar Peri

Maheshwar Peri, Chairman and CEO, Careers 360

When there are very obvious mistakes, acknowledged by the research agency and also all parties, it is also accepted that the continuance of such mistakes is hurting stakeholders badly, but when no concrete step is taken to solve it, we lose faith. Besides, each measurement benefits or hurts each stakeholder and they will continue to question it.


We haven’t yet questioned Google or ComScore as they are scientific. However, if it is sample-based, not foolproof and very obvious errors have been detected, they must be corrected.


This dogfight between the stakeholders would continue till we find a way to make it more objective and scientific.


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