New, improved IRS hailed by industry

14 Mar,2013


By Ritu Midha


The Indian Readership Survey (IRS) has received industry applause for its new avatar, perhaps a first in the media industry. This, however, is after the curtain-raiser – and the real reactions may come when IRS 2013 is out in December this year. Having said that, the detailing that has gone into revamping and reinventing the IRS cannot be faulted – neither can the methodology and the scope it provides for in-depth analysis.

The sample size for IRS now will be 235,007 users across 95 cities with 5 lakh+ population; 92 districts will be reported individually. And there will be zonal reporting for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.


Lynn de Souza

Due diligence has been used in the entire process, right from the selection of the new research partner – Nielsen. Explains Lynn de Souza, Chairperson, RSCI, “The search for a partner began with an invitation for RFI (request for information) to research agencies on a global level – which, in itself, is a path-breaking initiative. We received seven responses, which ultimately led to Nielsen being selected based on various parameters.”

While putting together the methodology for the new IRS, six key priorities were kept under consideration: accuracy, targeting, comprehensiveness, user-friendliness, engagement and granularity.


Prashant Singh

Said Prashant Singh, Managing Director, Media, Nielsen India, “The focus is not only on accuracy of data, but also on its usage and analysis, and on how easily the users are able to get information.”



The Four Pillars:

IRS has now been planned on the four pillars of simplicity, openness, integration and quality – the objective of course is in-depth data that will help in better understanding of the consumer – his/her readership and consumption habits, and beyond. “Shorter interview duration and Double screen CAPI will definitely make life simpler for respondent and interviewer. Intuitive analysis, meanwhile, will definitely work well for all IRS users,” Mr Singh said.

Here is a closer look at each of the four pillars and the foundation on which these pillars are being built.



Intuitive analytics with world class reporting platform

Better respondent engagement with 30 minute interviews

Superior speed and quality with Double Screen CAPI



Transparent methodology: no black box

Collaborative steering group

Seamless incorporation of cross-platform data



Augmented analytics through fusion

Access to largest pool of global n local experts

World class solutions by the world’s leading measurement organisations



Real time tracking of interviewers for better quality

Independent audits by 25 dedicated quality control specialists

To make the process completely unbiased, data acquisition would be done through a rotation of staff every 18 months – completely avoiding the scenario where same people are interviewing same people over and over again.


The interview process:

Interviews would be conducted at individual and household level. While part one of the interview would be pertaining to print measurement. For the part two sample has been bifurcated in two parts: sample 2A would be asked questions on usage of TV and Internet in addition to product linkage, while 2B would asked questions on usage of radio and mobile in addition to product linkage.


Demographic and behaviour hooks would be used for data fusion. The two-pronged approach has been adopted to keep the sample size within the reasonable limits without compromising on research quality.


Mr Singh elucidated, “Key question on data profile are being asked to all respondents. As for category-specific data, whether it goes in personal interview or HH interview would depend on the product category – for instance a personal category like chocolates would go in personal interview and a category like detergents will go in household interviews.”


The householder will be selected based on respondents’ responses to the questions, and cannot be selected by the interviewer.


Publications, interestingly, will be shown on a random basis, and hence the scope of priority based on sequencing is gone.


The interview process, to put it simply, seeks to get accurate data – and a key factor here is a smooth interview process which is not taxing for interviewer and respondent. Paritosh Joshi, member of the board of governors, MRUC, explains, “Even a bigger concern than respondent fatigue was interviewer fatigue – each interview is a pretty punishing thing, and after a few interviews, the interviewer was almost answering the questions before the respondent.”


Another expectation from the new research methodology is that upmarket consumers, elusive till now, would be accessible now due to shorter duration interview and use of digital technology.


Data Analysis:

While Dual CAPI and tracking of the interviewer make the process sturdier, a key factor is the myriad data analysis options it opens up for users. Rich user interface facilitates the analysis that would definitely help media and marketers if the demo presented at the IRS 2013 Curtain Raiser yesterday are anything to go by.


Transparency and credibility are two other factors that IRS 2013 has taken care of. Stated Mr Joshi, “A lot of flak that IRS received initially was because people were of the opinion that it was compromised. Security concerns to build an architecture that could not be compromised have been taken care of. Nasty surprises are in store for people who tried to compromise it earlier.”


Easy-to-use software enables a number of permutations and combinations, leading to multi-level and multi data point analysis. Merging of data, and granular analysis are the buzzwords for publishers as of now – who believe that these would definitely enable them to understand their users and markets better, leading to better revenues.


“All the non-sampling issues have been taken care of. The need for quasi-qualitative decisions we were taking earlier has been done away with. We are not losing anything that we had in previous IRS, in future if we want to add anymore thing, we can do it,” emphasised Mr Joshi.


Ms de Souza summed it up: “Capture, storage and dissemination of date would be different – it is a bit like TV measurement moving from diary to people meter.” The key focus, of course, is on providing accurate and granular data through software that will make a much more in-depth analysis possible than in the past.


Industry appreciation


Shantanu Bhanja, Vice President – Marketing at Hindustan Times Media Ltd

On the conceptual level, data fusion will make it really powerful. We will get a far better quality of data. It can also be analyzed along with data you get from other sources – which in turn will help in meeting your business needs better – instead of just one set of data.


Use of technology will now enable IRS to reach high quality audiences – whom we were not able to reach earlier. New dual CAPI and the size of the survey being brought down to 30 minutes will definitely help in getting people who were earlier elusive due to methodology.


Digital makes data administration easier – and there definitely is increased accountability as well as freedom from errors caused by surverys being conducted on papers.

It is an interactive data module. We will be able to dip into data, and analyze it on user apps as they keep coming.


As for what else is on my wish list, other formats of media and news consumption need to become part of the same integrated IRS. That, as is known, is already work in progress.


Himanka Das, Senior Vice President – West, Carat Media Services

It is a much-needed initiative – I am really excited and looking forward to the first set of data. It definitely looks interesting, to say the least, and promising if the curtain-raiser is anything to go by. I have witnessed many changes in industry – from INTAM to TAM, diary system to people meter-readership studies merger, and each change has proved to be for the better.


Nielsen has enough exposure and knowhow across the globe, and hence any doubts about the robustness of the system are ruled out. I am sure enough thinking would have gone into data fusion.


What I am keenly waiting to observe is how the new socio-economic classification will be handled, as it was not discussed at length in the session. New classification will go on in parallel with the old classification – and over a period of one year the old one would be phased out and rightly so. It will be interesting to watch how the new one will be used in IRS research, and its impact from the data fusion point of view.


As for software for data dissemination and analysis, it appears to be very user friendly. Another commendable thing is user feedback they are seeking to make the system more robust.


Monetizing it is a great idea, however, with a 2.5 to 3% commission structure, it remains to be seen if agencies can fund it.


Ambika Subramanian, OMD

The interface is definitely much better, and much easier to navigate. Data slicing too should be much better now. Unfortunately I missed the initial part of the curtain-raiser, and hence I would like to use the new IRs before I really comment on it.


Navin Singh, Manager – Marketing, Sakal Media Group

It is a step in the right direction. All the loopholes in the previous IRS have been plugged. We are really looking forward to using it. Data in the new IRS will be better obtained, and finer cut. It will enable us in exploiting our strength in specific markets.


The most impressive things of course are the much needed change in interview methodology, and the new vistas opened for data analysis at multiple levels.


Peter Suresh, Head – Strategy, Dainik Bhaskar Group

The entire process is automated, and that is incredible. Attempt to report individually on a far larger number of geographical units is also very heartening. District cut too has increased – hence the data can be analyzed at a far more granular level.


Bulk of action of late has been in rest of India, beyond six metros and hence granular cut is extremely important. Data slicing at a deeper level, and multiple ways of presenting it, make far more sense. Readership numbers are the cornerstones of most media marketing and sales strategies – and the finer they can be cut, the more robust they are. And, of course, these will help in delivering better stories to the marketers.


Sanjay Verma, West Head, Sandesh Ltd

“It is a step in the right direction. So many options have been provided as far as data analysis is concerned. We now have an option to look at different TGs and SECs. What is more, one can merge data segments as required. Right data slicing is much needed. It definitely helps everyone to get more data permutations and combinations”.


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One response to “New, improved IRS hailed by industry”

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you missed the Mumbai event and are in Delhi, please do attend the curtain raiser at INS Building, Rafi Marg on March 15, 2013 starting 2:30 p.m.