Face Off with Prashant Singh, Managing Director, Nielsen India & L V Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research
As rivals TAM Media Research (TAM) and Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) join hands to form a joint venture euphemistically called Meter Management Company, the move has left industry stakeholders guessing about the future of TAM. Even as it said it will continue to provide other services such as radio audience measurement, TAM Sports, etc., the loss of TV audience measurement translates into a 50% drop in TAM’s Rs 120-150 crore revenue.
In conversation with FE BrandWagon’s Anushree Bhattacharyya, Prashant Singh, managing director, Nielsen India and LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research clear the air on TAM’s future. Edited excerpts:
When did the dialogue between the three parties—Kantar Media, Nielsen and BARC—commence? At what point did you realise that a war with BARC was futile?
Singh: The conversation began sometime towards the end of last year. Everyone is aware of the fact that two measurement systems do not exist in any country. Moreover, BARC was created with the aim of providing one measurement currency to the industry. So in such a scenario TAM was left with only two possibilities—either TAM would have landed up with the role of supplier of data in the long run or its TV audience measurement system would have to shut shop. Also, BARC, at some in time, will have to increase the sample size. So it made sense for the three parties to come together. The coming together is a win-win for all. While BARC gets to increase the sample size, it now has the TAM team’s back-up in terms of human resources, skills and data.
How will the merger of the entire system take place?
Singh: The merger will happen at three levels. First, at the level of sample size, with the two parties joining hands close to 34,000 peoplemeters will be installed across the country. What this also means is that a new panel will be crafted, so some existing households will get dropped with new ones being added.
Second, the merger would have to happen at the technology level as BARC and TAM use different kinds of technology. Nonetheless, both data sets send the same message of what is being watched on TV by whom. So under the new arrangement, TAM’s team will collate the raw data and give it to BARC which will release in its final form.
The third level of integration will involve human resources. TAM’s centre at Vadodara has its team mainly working on the AdEx part of the business, so that will continue to function independently. While an effort is being made to absorb the team working in the field managing the panel, this will be a huge HR exercise.
TAM Media Research earned a major chunk of its revenue from TV audience measurement. Now that this goes, to what extent will it hurt the agency?
Singh: The TV audience measurement business would have had to eventually shut down so under any circumstance TAM would have lost that part of the revenue. It is true that TAM’s revenue will shrink but it will continue to provide its non-TV ratings services to the market – advertising expenditure (AdEx) for TV, print, radio, RAM—Radio Audience Measurement, Eikona—PR Audit, TAM Sports Measurement and S-Group Consulting.
Krishnan: TV audience measurement contributes to 50% of the revenue and the rest comes from other businesses.
When we started in 2000, TAM revenue was Rs 4.5 crore. We built a robust business in 15 years with TAM’s revenue touching Rs 150 crore. I don’t see a reason to worry as once again we will be working towards building the business especially at a time when the market is flooded with opportunities.
In your earlier interview to Brandwagon you had said TAM to WAM (web audience measurement) is what lies ahead. Has the process begun? What kind of services will you provide?
Krishnan: We are already working with IMRB—a Kantar Media company—to provide its service, WAM. Under WAM, we will provide audience measurement of video content consumed on the desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone across the six metros—Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. WAM data will be released in fusion with the TV measurement data—in order to give an idea of the kind of content that is watched both on television and the web. The basic idea is to provide a TV plus web audience measurement system. We plan to release a test version by the end of this month, that is, September.
Even as the picture looks rosy for BARC, the agency may soon face the same problem that TAM did when it went into LC1 towns. Your comments?
Singh: Questions on data will always exist. Any company in the business of measurement will have to be always ready to take those questions and provide the right answers. Despite the industry’s support, any new kind of data will invite many questions from industry stakeholders. BARC will need to address these.
What role do you see TAM playing in the media research space in the near future?
Krishnan: Going forward, while one measurement currency will play an important role in transaction of ad inventory, media research companies will have to work towards addressing individual needs.
Also, as more viewers choose various platforms to watch content, companies will consolidate their offerings under one roof. So the next level of need that companies will have is for insights that will actually help them in understanding how consumers time-travel through various devices and consume content. This is also the space where TAM will work.