Before I explain why measuring the digital medium should be of utmost priority, let’s pause and take stock of how digital has changed the entire ecosystem. Earlier, the mediums of consumption were television, print, radio and outdoor. But there is a huge chunk of the audience today which is consuming this same content on mobile phones, laptops, desktops, tablets and other devices. Digital offers great scale in a short span of time and is extremely cost effective. While it has not yet replaced old mediums, digital is no longer a ‘new’ medium and is considered equally effective like traditional mediums.
Most marketers are drawn to digital because it delivers measurable RoI but are worried about its credibility, while there are other marketers who are apprehensive about using digital as there is no measurement system. Despite no third party measurement, digital has managed to gain approximately 14% of the Indian Adex and is steadily growing over 30% year-on-year.
So why has it become more pertinent to launch a third party measurement now?
Every leading broadcaster today has a separate OTT (over-the-top) platform, which besides airing TV shows also carries original content. Most broadcasters are in fact spending so heavily on these platforms, that if analysed, the gestation period of these OTT platforms will be similar to that of TV channels. And then there are independent OTT platforms too. These platforms are delivering solid, engaging viewership and advertisers are literally flocking to these platforms. Advertising spends on these platforms have also gone up by nearly 50-100% in the last one year.
And it is similar for print. Every publisher today has an online avatar, which also publishes video content and is updated round the clock. And this adds to the publication’s incremental reach.
Up till now broadcasters/publishers/ digital platforms have been putting out their own online viewership numbers. To most advertisers, this lacks credibility as it is self-measurement.
But measuring digital is not easy. We cannot measure it through ‘panels’. The medium is so fragmented that no planner can get the right estimation with the requisite error levels.
There are two industry bodies which are approaching digital measurement separately. One is the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which is the publisher’s body, which is doing the digital ratings of publications. This is an extremely cost-effective but robust and high quality solution that ABC is offering. The testing phase is currently on and even the smaller digital players can be measured through this rating system. You need large amount of big data to measure the digital platform and currently both ABC and BARC are examining big data sources which can enable the process.
The online video measurement will come through BARC. But finally the ambition is to create a common metric. So in next three-four years the aim is to move to a common metric with single sourcing.
India is currently at the cusp of a huge revolution where the government is pushing for both a digital revolution and a cashless society. This has already elevated the digital sampling and will lead to huge growth for the medium in near future. So it is time for the entire media marketing sector to come together and help ABC and BARC to create the measurement system for the digital ecosystem as it will lead to innovation and grow the Adex.
CEO, IPG Mediabrands