Will the ad switch-off get broadcasters to revert to weekly ratings?

16 Jul,2013

 

By A Correspondent

 

Logically, ads of FMCG majors who sent letters to eight broadcast group on Friday evening should’ve been off air from late last night, but given that there was a Sunday in between, the 72-hour notice given is being considered to be 72 working day hours.

 

The advertisers have decided to take on the broadcasters head-on. “We’ve decided we don’t want to get bullied any longer,” one big spender told MxMIndia, adding that the channels need to acknowledge that until there is enough money from distribution, it’s the ads that are funding their business.

 

While broadcasters have adopted a wait-and-watch game, privately, they admit that they are cornered this time around. Moreover, a Colgate needn’t worry about Oral B using this opportunity to over-advertise because both Colgate and P&G have sent us pull-out letters, one channel revenue head told us.

 

However, the real losers, as industry analysts tell us, are the broadcasters because the revenue loss will be real when it actually starts. “Since most broadcasters are CEO-run or are publicly listed, the stakes are lower for CEOs,” the analyst told us. Except for Zee and Sri Adhikari Brothers, a blip is not a huge worry for MNC-owned or listed company CEOs. “It’s only when the losses mount that the international/regional headquarters will start putting the pressure.”

 

Meanwhile, another analyst MxMIndia spoke to reasoned that broadcasters will lose out by asking for monthly data. “The monthly release is not going to be a combined number for 30-31 days. It will give you the same weekly break-up. So it’s in a sense a case of deferred live.” Advertisers and media agencies can still review the numbers and nail the channels sales team, he said. “The problem is also for the channel programming team and bosses because in the absence of weekly data, they will not be able to tweak content if ratings are going south and it’s tougher doing it after month,” said the analyst.

 

The industry-watchers we spoke with believe that for advertisers the issue is now of their egos being hurt by the insistence of broadcasters to go monthly. The demand to refer the matter to the BARC technical committee has been shot down because there is a feeling that the switch to a monthly release of numbers will not get a two-thirds majority that may be deemed imperative for changing the ‘technical’ framework of measurement.

 

Meanwhile, the offensive against broadcasters was raised last evening by the Advertising Agencies Association of India issuing  a statement on the current impasse on Television Audience Measurement. Said Arvind Sharma, President of the AAAI: “For fourteen years, TAM has been the TV Audience measurement system in the country. It has been the currency on the basis of which advertising planning, buying and selling have been conducted. We all agree that this measurement system needs to evolve. That is the common goal towards which broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies came together to create Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). BARC will take 10 months or so to start generating its audience measurement data. In the meantime, however, if individual broadcasters try to force unilateral changes in the current system, as some have tried, it will result in a disorderly and hybrid measurement system. It will become impossible for advertising agencies and advertisers to plan and therefore, buy TV spots. In this scenario, it is natural for advertisers to begin to question the value of advertising in this medium at all. Cancellation of TV releases by many advertisers on eight network groups that have insisted on unilateral changes is a natural outcome of that. More clients are following”.

 

The statement added: AAAI believes that any change in the TV measurement system needs to be thought through and to have support from all the three industry constituents – Broadcasters, Advertisers and Advertising Agencies. “We continue to be firmly of the belief that dialogue among all constituents is essential for evolving the system. We remain open to discussions, as always,” said Mr Sharma.

 

Hinting at the broadcasting fraternity’s refusal to budge, Mr Sharma said: “This does require similar openness across all constituents. We will continue to work towards a dialogue.”

 

What all stakeholders are hoping for is the emergence of a back-channel to negotiate a settlement between the stakeholders. Watch this space for more.

 

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