Life without BARC data: Direct market feedback becomes the new yardstick for advertisers

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Marketers haven’t been shy about spending on news channels in absence of ratings. As per TAM data, top 5 advertisers in the genre were common between the blackout period and two months prior to that

Thursday ratings have always had an important role to play in deciding one’s marketing mix, but, it seems, it has not been desperately missed in the blackout period. In the absence of BARC data for the past 11 weeks, advertisers are keeping an ear to the ground and have continued to invest in news television with direct feedback from the market.

Interestingly, as per TAM data, the top five advertisers in the genre were common between the blackout period and two months prior to that. The news genre was dominated by HUL and Reckitt during both the periods. The top five advertisers before the blackout period were Hindustan Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser India, Godrej Consumer Products, Amul and Colgate Palmolive India. The brands continued to be the top five advertisers in the blackout period too.

Clearly marketers haven’t been shy about spending on news channels in absence of ratings from BARC. Most marketers who invest in television news have continued to spend their ad dollars in the genre.

“We are not changing our planned outlay on TV news advertisement immediately. The reasons being–BARC data points are one of the criteria for finalizing the programmes. Trade /customer /own team feedback/effect on demand play their roles in determining this,” said Mitash Chatterjee, GM, Corporate Marketing, Century Ply.

“There are estimation methods to derive trends of individual programmes,” he said.

Century Ply however is not an isolated example. There are a host of others who have kept their ad budgets for TV news intact even in the blackout period.

“We have a chain of close to 75000 retailers alongside our vendors and distributers who give us direct feedback on customer preferences from the smallest of markets. We know directly from the viewers who watches what and that has guided us to invest smartly. We have kept investing in news the way we used to and have not made any changes in absence of BARC ratings,” said Vinod Kumar Gupta, Managing Director at Dollar Industries.

In this period, there have been no changes in Dollar’s ad budget.

Statistics suggest that with the beginning of the blackout period coinciding with the festive season, advertisers have not just held on the TV news channels but also shown growth. Going by TAM AdEx’s latest data, the news genre saw 400-plus more advertisers on TV in the blackout period when compared to the last two months before that. While the genre saw around 2700+ advertisers between August 15 and October 15, post the commencement of the blackout period till the mid of December, the genre saw 3100+ advertisers getting on board.

According to media buyers, BARC data is one of the deciding factors in investment choices. “Lakhs of rupees are spent on advertising and it is not just the Thursday rating that decides it. While it is one of the important factors there are other parameters too and every advertiser have their own measuring system in place. One of the biggest deciding factors is direct feedback through vendor chain. The only difficulty faced due to lack of ratings have been negotiations in ad rates,” said a popular media buyer on conditions of anonymity.

At the same time, with the blackout period coming to an end on January 16, advertisers are waiting for the return of ratings.

“We use BARC data for checking the performance of programmes that we have chosen to advertise on different news channels. Without these data points its inconvenient for us. We are therefore waiting for BARC to come out with their revised process/reports/recommendation,” said Chatterjee.

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Tasmayee Laha Roy

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