November 2010
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Magazine publishers-owned 'Engagement Study'-will it click with advertisers?

Measurement has been an eminent problem in the print industry, especially in the magazine domain. Magazine publishers have questioned the efficacy of Indian Readership Survey (IRS) methodology, and have been on the lookout for alternate solutions to be able to bridge the measurement gap of the current system.

Many define magazine as an “engaging” medium. Hence, in the recently held Indian Magazine Congress (IMC 2010), the President of Association of Indian Magazine (AIM), Pradeep Gupta, announced that an ‘engagement study’ would be conducted to measure the engagement level of magazines. AIM plans for the research to be conducted by a research agency. How are media planners and buyers looking at this initiative?

Jyoti Kumar Bansal, Head, New Business Development, OMD India, said on this issue, “The premise that magazines are an engaging medium exists internationally. Therefore, it will be interesting to see what kind of data it reveals in India. It will probably help to take magazines away from a pure cost and reach comparison exercise, into a more qualitative evaluation mode, which will be beneficial for the medium. It would be interesting to see what audiences look for in a magazine, and what they find most relevant and interesting, because then only can it add value to advertisers.”

Speaking further on ‘engagement’, Vidhu Sagar, Senior Vice President, Carat Media India, said, “Principally, magazines have been used to great effect to reach segmented niche audiences, particularly in special interest areas. Magazines are used in a media plan because they are linked to the quality of audience and the messaging. So, if magazine marketers are proposing an engagement-linked metric, they are only connecting relevant dots in their domain and are justified in doing so. However, the fact remains that magazines is a shrinking market and it may take more than an engagement quotient to sell magazines to advertisers. The study must come up with a wholesome index that is conceptually delivering on both the quantitative as well as the qualitative/softer values.”

According to Dinesh Vyas, Head MEC, Team Reliance, “All studies that test engagement will be perception based. It will be different from one person to another and generalising it could prove harmful. Magazine players have raised several questions over the efficacy of IRS survey, however IRS is the only currency that media agencies will rely upon for a long time to come. Engagement study is not likely to work as it will be subjective and perception based. According to me the study won’t survive.”

Speaking about the expectations of advertisers on this, he said “An involvement metric such as time-spent is a basic deliverable. Beyond that, aspects relating to cognitive and behavioural values, should add relevance. How effective are the ad messages and how they impact brand recall and response rates, are some other areas that should give advertisers something new to chew on.”

When asked whether this could delay the already held-up IRS-NRS merger, Vyas added, “The Engagement study is just for one part of the media community whereas IRS/NRS are meant for the larger group. In any case, the reasons for delay of IRS-NRS merger are hard to understand. So, it’s for the benefit of the involved parties to expedite the execution and deliver on the promise.”

Even as several engagement based studies are successfully conducted abroad, the Indian planners do not look too keen to reply upon it yet. They are still circumspect as to what the engagement study is going to be and what methodology it is going to follow.



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