The Internet Gets Mainstream, Finally

11 May,2020


By Indrani Sen


On May 8, 2020, the Media Research Users Council India (MRUC) released its findings of the last and final quarter of Indian Readership Survey 2019. Fieldwork of IRS 2019Q4 covered the period from December 2019 through March 2020 and the report has data based on a rolling average of four quarters of IRS 2019 data i.e. Q1+Q2+Q3 and Q4 2019.


The highlights of the readership trends among English and vernacular titles have already been reported and analysed by different industry websites. The highlights of the survey- presented jointly by Nielsen and MRUC – has noted that: “Newspaper readership, is on a slow decline and is a trend seen across Hindi, English and Regional languages”. Vikram Sakhuja, IRS Technical Committee Chairman and Group CEO Madison Media & OOH, Madison World has noted in the press release: “(The) ability to read and understand English has increased and while overall print readership is holding, daily readership has started showing signs of decline.”


According to the highlights of the report, a “rapidly evolving media landscape with multi-media adoption is seen across consumer strata resulting in large media markets, both traditional and digital with substantial increase in Internet penetration lifting it to mainstream along with TV and Print.” Moreover, the report has acknowledged “There was more number of internet users (Last 1 month) in rural now then urban.”


Source: IRS2019Q4


If we consider that the fieldwork for March 2020 ended before the National Lockdown due to Covid-19 was imposed on March 25, 2020, we can easily guess a further surge of internet users has happened across urban and rural India in the last seven weeks. Unfortunately, as the IRS fieldwork also is on hold now, we will have to wait for sometime before we get a clear indication of the media usage during the total and subsequently partial Lockdown enforced by Covid-19.


IRS2019Q4 highlights have also given us a glimpse of how Indian consumers today are more equipped and more connected than before as shown in the following chart. There would not be significant change in the connectivity except during the lockdown both ‘shop from modern trade’ and ‘online shopping’ may go down and ‘access social media’ may go up substantially.


Source: IRS2019Q4


This calls for a total change in the approach of media planning where TV and Digital would have to be planned simultaneously now supplemented by Print, Radio and OOH plans. It would also be beneficial to plan for TV and Digital under the same roof by the same media agency than to distribute the business by traditional media and digital media to two different media agencies.


Unfortunately, we still do not have single source data for TV and Digital media users which is essential for preparing cutting edge media plans. BARC’s plan for providing such data have been shelved indefinitely reportedly due to non-cooperation by Google and Facebook and instead of finding a solution to that problem, TRAI has now created other problems for the ongoing research on TV viewership with their new directives about TV viewership research. So, as internet continue to surge ahead as a mainstream media, media agencies will keep struggling with data and insights for doing justice to their media plans.



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