With 5161 towns and over 600000 villages, India can be said of as countries within a country. Reaching on to this vastness is a huge challenge, a herculean task so to say.
Nevertheless, things are changing for the better. One such is the long awaited BARC Rural data for the Broadcasting Industry. The industry is upbeat, as from now on, there will be accountability to the monies invested and an opportunity to explore newer Markets through the TV medium.
To add to the enthusiasm, McKinsey also corroborates this potential of the Rural Markets. It states that rural will count for nearly 20% of the total consumption by 2025 and more than half in some category. Among them, FMCG’s Marketers in particular, and their enthusiasm to consider rural ratings seems obvious and long awaited. To add to that is the Govts serious pursuit to electrify all rural households, thereby offering Brand Heads a tool to harness the potential that exists in Rural India. Henceforth the BARC Rural data will only fuel in lot of pragmatism to the Marketers ’.
At the Agencies, BARC India’s Integrated data (Urbal+ rural) when churned and put into full throttled practice, will bring forth what an integrated India watches. Partho Dasgupta, the CEO of BARC India said during launch of BARC data in April 2015, ‘I am delighted to present the Broadcasting Advertising Industry all India Ratings. We have been able to give a view of ‘’what India watches”. But all said and done, each of these urban and rural areas have very disparate social and economic developments with different levels of purchasing power and consumption patterns”.
Looking at things thru a larger perspective, Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director of Madison India Ltd., exudes optimism with caution. “The availability of BARC Rural data is welcome new arsenal in the marketer’s bank of armory for market warfare. However, the data needs to be used with caution, especially when it comes to selection of TV channels in a TV plan since the majority of brands that are advertised on TV are either not available or have extremely poor distribution in rural markets.
On the other hand the availability of this data opens up a new avenue of growth for data conscious marketers who now have a good estimate of viewership in rural markets, which was hitherto only the subject of conjecture and most Advertisers used Doordarshan as the ideal TV channel choice for reaching smaller and rural markets.
Now that we have a good fix of how many TV viewers are there in rural markets and who watches what, when, it would be good for marketers to:
a)Launch new product / variants specifically for rural markets and use those channels with high rural market viewership.
b) For Advertisers to take concrete steps to extend their distribution in those markets with high rural viewership, so as to make their advertising work harder.
However, for those brands which are essentially urban and have distribution only in top cities and towns, they need to continue to use the urban viewership data in deciding on their choice of channels and not get carried away by the huge absolute numbers thrown up by BARC data.” said Balsara.
Ashish Bashin -Chairman and CEO South Asia-Dentsu Aegis Network and Chairman Posterscope and ps live- Asia Pacific said, “Launch of the BARC Rural data is the best thing to have happened to the Advertisers in India. From now on ,we will have rating which are not purely Urban Centric. To the Advertiser, the urban markets are saturated and what he is looking out for markets in 2 and 3 tier towns and the rural where he will find potential markets”.
He further added, “The launch of the rural data will also pave way for more interesting viewership data. Advertisers are loyal to eye-balls not to the channels and hence there will also be paradigm shift wherein Channels with better data emanating from the rural areas end up being preferred over the traditional channels. The Regional Channels are the ones to watch and they are expected to play an important role. Though nothing immediate or drastic changes will happen immediately, it all a matter of time”.
The Industry is excited and we can see that in every aspect of Broadcasting functions. According to Tarun Katial, CEO of Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd. (RBNL),“Historically, print has been well researched in rural India through regular surveys, but not television. The rural consumer has always existed, but now, BARC’s efforts to track rural data prove that there is a very significant audience which consumes television in serious measure within these regions. Tracking rural data is important as these markets are a growth focus for a lot of advertisers. This is also an excellent way to demonstrate that ROI on TV is much more efficient than all other offline media. Broadcasters and advertisers can now work with greater transparency and trust, with data backing to prove that there is indeed a strong consumer base in these areas”.
While Sam extolled the kaleidoscopic attributes, Anuj Poddar, Head -Colors Marathi and Colors Gujarathi has his own issues. “Inclusion of Rural Data by BARC helps deliver on its original promise of a wider and deeper coverage and showcases to the advertisers the true reach and power of our channels. However, the advertiser rates are yet to factor in this expanded reach and we are in conversations to do so. In the case of the Marathi genre, it continues to be under indexed and the viewership under-represented. The Establishment Study commissioned by BARC and the revised and expanded panel that BARC intends to roll out in the coming months, is expected to set the ratings in the right direction for the Marathi genre”
Taking this cue, tvnews4u.com spoke to some key people in the industry and they corroborate what Anuj has had to say. There exists teething problems now and that will need to be addressed. But the fact remains, the new currency will soon pave for the shortcomings of the earlier TAM data. It is a learning curve for now, at the Agency, client, the Marketing and the Time Sales department at the Broadcaster. As a representative of the Industry body, all the shareholders will need to get into a huddle, address issues in unison and for common good. With the amalgamation of BARC and TAM meters, the expertise and experience of both will evidently add value in every sense.
Anubhav Nath Revenue Head, PTC Network says “BARC has actually expanded the base not only in respect to number of meters, but by also including and monitoring the rural belt. The monitoring of the rural belt has indicated upon the taste and preferences of audiences. With the expansion of base in rural belts it would give a more realistic picture of the actual scenario. Having said that it is too early for us to comment and a better suggestion would be to wait & watch the scenario before passing further judgments”.
To understand the Operational convenience of BARC, tvnew4u.com further spoke to some Media Planner. They all agree in unison that the operational of the new software is a matter of getting accustomed over a period of time. On the other hand, robustness of the data provided by BARC will be a pleasure trip for the planners to explore and understand the markets and consumer behaviors at minute level. They do face difficulties while shifting advertisers focus from the old ways to the new metrics . The reluctance to accept change was also witnessed in certain areas.
While gearing up for the new data many Planners/Buyers are still working on the ‘Historical TAM data’. But then all of them unequivocally agree that they can no longer thrive on TAM’s historical data. For sooner or later BARC as the currency seems pragmatic.
And to sum up what R Gowthaman, COO Asia Pacific Mindshare said to a leading News paper recently “I am eagerly waiting to see the early indications of our all-inclusive, integrated Urban+Rural ratings from BARC. This is going to be a game changer — both for marketers as well as for the media planners. This is not a trend, but a setting that is going to permanently alter the way marketing budgets are deployed in the “many India’s” we have within our thriving nation.”
And for now, we understand that the Industry feels that it is still too early to evaluate and come to a conclusion, but the fact remains that we are headed in the right direction…. As long the intentions are good, success follows. Watch out for more on the Impact of BARC Rural data on Broadcasters and Advertisers….!!!