ISA advises members not to use BARC data during transition period of TRAI TO implementation

MUMBAI: The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) has advised its members not to use BARC India data for media planning and buying due to likely fluctuation in the viewership data resulting from the implementation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) new tariff order.

According to sources, the ISA advisory states that the consumption landscape is likely to shift due to the implementation of the new regulatory framework, which allows consumers to pick and choose channels of their choice without any interference from the distribution platforms.

The advisory dated 4th February also states that it will take six weeks to assess the stability of the viewership numbers post the implementation of the new framework.

Therefore, it has advised its members not to use the viewership data during the transition period as the same will be highly unpredictable. It also stated that pre and post evaluation should be avoided for this period.

In the advisory, ISA chairman Sunil Kataria noted that the tariff order will bring about a change in the manner in which consumers can subscribe to TV channels impacting on TV viewership data.

“As TV is one of the largest medium to reach our consumers, we, from the ISA Executive Council and the ISA Core Media Committee, have been in active engagement with BARC Board, Technical Committee and NTO task force over the past few months to arrive at a way forward during this transition period,” Kataria said in the ISA advisory.

He also stated that the TRAI tariff order is a sudden development and as a result the ability to predict the impact of this event is extremely difficult.

“Considering the fact that the TRAI new tariff order (NTO) is across India, its impact will be significantly different in each region given the varied distribution and broadcast landscape of each region,” he noted.

Kataria also pointed out that the tariff order, if implemented in true spirit, is likely to have a shift in channel availability and hence possibly consumption landscape also. We will need to give it some time to assess the impact.

“While the panel will continue to be representative during the transition period, however, the viewership data will not be usable given the challenges outlined. It will take a minimum of 6 weeks to assess the stability of the viewership numbers post the implementation of the NTO,” he stated.

“The ISA Executive Council, therefore, advises that the viewership data during the transition period should not be used for media planning, evaluation and buying perspectives. It should be noted that the variance in pre and post evaluations will be higher than the usual and will be highly unpredictable. Hence pre and post evaluation should be avoided for this period. ISA will work closely with BARC to confirm when the data becomes stable and usable for planning and buying,” Kataria said in conclusion.

Reacting to the ISA advisory, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) president ad sales Rohit Gupta said that he fully supports the ISA Advisory. “It is the right way to go because with the Trai order people are still choosing their packs. People might change their packs. This is absolutely the right move. Everyone has been saying that there will be a certain amount of disruption at the ground level.” He thinks that the period of six weeks is enough for things to settle down. He said that the company gets reports every two weeks on the packs that have been subscribed to. “Maximum in a month it will get sorted out.”

Madison Media, OOH, group CEO Vikram Sakhuja noted that the ISA has thought through it pretty carefully after seeing some analysis. “The TRAI order being enforced will result in a lot of flux that will make planning unreliable. I agree with the move.”

He noted that media agencies look at deliveries and what plans actually delivered. During this period of flux, there will be volatility. Agencies have a going in plan, a factual plan and then a post evaluation is done. The variations between the going in plan and the post-evaluation should be as close as possible. But it may be unrealistic to expect them to be very close because of fluctuations that you cannot predict.

When asked if some money might temporarily go out of television he said that it is a wait and watch situation. “People will wait and watch a little bit. Some broadcasters are trying to make clients more comfortable. They will help them manage the flux that happens. It will be a little bit of give and take for both advertisers and media owners.”

Havas Media Group CEO India, Southeast Asia Anita Nayyar noted that the industry has been aware of this development for some time now and there are obvious apprehensions given non-availability of data. “One hears of many clients postponing or cancelling campaigns during this time. However, there are many who are going by gut and taking the risks. In the absence of data, the non-risk/safer bets will be high reach genres/channels. Many channels are also assuring advertisers of adequate compensation in case of drops.”

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