Siddhartha Mukherjee: Media Debate on Media Research will puncture the future of syndicated studies

07 Jan,2021

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

 

Syndicated Readership, Viewership, Listenership and many other industry studies through research and measurement initiatives have gone through turbulence. Nothing new, nothing abnormal! As members of the media, marketing and communications industry, we have all been preview to disagreements, allegations, frictions and arguments between the media measurement service provider and the subscribers – advertiser, media owners and planners.

 

In fact, I would say much of this is needed to make a neutral Media Research and Measurement machinery robust.

 

However, I believe that public or media debate on the shortcomings of an Industry Measurement and Research system will make the Indian households wary about surveys, research and therefor their responses. Indian Households will view and treat field executives approaching them for responses or feedback in a different or radical way. Marketing investments and Brand Management decisions will get affected majorly since respondent households will lose faith or question the rationale and credibility of the marketing and market research industry.

 

While these open, public spats in media have been common since more than a decade now, what we saw, especially, during the last one year, has been disturbing. Media stories dismissing organisations, individuals and processes along with use of words or phrases that suggest rigging, scam, etc. quite certainly will send a disturbing message within existing or prospective respondent individuals across Indian households.

 

Three immediate outcomes come to mind:

 

1. This will break the backbone of market research

2. Will impact employment of thousands of survey or research field executives

3. Will raise questions on the safety and social standing of those field executives

 

What can be done? Well, solutions are not so easy and simple to come. However, if we understand and acknowledge the problem or the Frankenstein the industry is creating for itself, I am sure industry stakeholders will stop being myopic and get together for a solution. If the industry wishes to do damage control and/or sustain the belief and credibility of respondent-based studies amongst Indian households, a perception management programme needs to be created.

 

For now, if media owners can take an editorial call on being selective about the type of news they will publish about the India’s Research & Measurement Industry. Second, if stakeholders can display the same personality and standpoint about government’s involvement in industry’s syndicated media and market research studies that they displayed around 2008-09.

 

Solutions can be many. Perception management programmes can also be many. However, the first step towards the cure is to understand that with ongoing public or media debates on media measurement and research, it is puncturing the future of India’s syndicated studies.

 

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a specialist in perception measurement and has now co-founded Brand Balance, a brand salience consultancy. His views here are personal

 

 

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