BARC India announced the phased roll-out of its much-awaited digital measurement service along with the brand name and logo of its digital measurement products. The digital products will be launched under the brand name EKAM (Sanskrit for ‘one’). The logo of EKAM draws inspiration from the four colors (Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green) as BARC India. The branding highlights BARC India’s commitment to provide industry with a single platform for all measurement products, across TV and Digital. The EKAM suite of products will include: EKAM Pulse, EKAM Beam, EKAM Stream, EKAM Ad-Scan, and EKAM Integra.
EKAM Pulse will measure video ad campaigns and will be the first digital offering to be rolled out by BARC India. EKAM Beam, the next product lined up for release, will measure linear broadcast that is viewed on a Digital device. EKAM Stream will measure both non-linear and pure play digital video content. BARC India will also provide the industry with EKAM Ad-Scan, which will be a global first-of-its-kind product. It will give an overview of digital ads in India, look at where the advertising money is being spent, and which sectors are producing more digital ads. The final product in this suite, EKAM Integra, will help the industry with common, robust, and independent audience numbers that will give more accurate incremental reach figures. To do this, BARC India’s TV data will be tied with Digital Video data with the help of Single-Source and Digital Booster panels on top of the census measurement and big data.
Advertisers in digital space face several issues today such as dependency on publishers/platforms for data, lack of quantifiable differences in impressions, inability to see unique and de-duplicated reach and frequency across publishers/platforms, and lack of knowledge on ROI, among others. BARC India, as a Joint Industry Company, has been studying the problems and has developed the EKAM suite of products based on industry-specific needs. By providing unique Reach and Frequency across devices de-duplicated by Brand, Campaign, Site, or Placement, the EKAM solutions will allow analysis and comparison of different platforms and their offerings. With a Single-Source Panel, large TV and Digital Booster panels, Census level impressions and Big Data on Digital side, EKAM will offer a much more robust and accurate ability to show key metrics like incremental reach.
“We are happy to announce the launch of EKAM, our digital offering. The ecosystem needs measurement of both video ads and content, whatever the pipe and device maybe. As the brand name suggests, BARC India is working towards its goal of integrating TV and Digital measurement. Our EKAM suite of products will be rolled out over the next 18–24 months. It will provide the industry with independent third-party measurement, verification of audience, and eventually viewability of video ads and content,” said Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India.
How to monetise
While the appetite for digital content consumption sees an uptick in India, monetising the medium continues to remain a challenge. Industry experts opine that a mix of subscription and ad models would be the way forward for over-the-top (OTT) video content service providers. “YouTube continues to be ad-driven, while Netflix opts for a subscription model. And we will continue to dabble with both models,” says Gaurav Gandhi, COO, Viacom18 Digital Ventures. He was speaking at a panel discussion on monetisation of digital content. The company operates the OTT platform Voot to showcase content from its television channels, as well as exclusive content created for the digital platform.
The advertising model works because, “Advertisers are looking for reach and impact and hence prefer digital ads. They also provide better viewability,” says Uday Sodhi, EVP and head – digital business, Sony Pictures Networks India. And the subscription model will work because, “Affordability is never an issue. People are willing to pay Rs 250 to watch a movie in a theatre,” points out Archana Anand, head, digital – India, Z5 Business.
Currently, advertising revenue is the dominant business model for most players. And digital advertisers are looking for “consistent and comparable viewership numbers”, says Jamie Kenny, business head – digital, BARC India. In view of this, Broadcast Audience Research Council or BARC, the television audience measurement service said it plans to roll out its digital measurement tools in phases this year and early next year. With this, BARC India will offer viewership data for both television as well as digital mediums. “BARC offers neutral data which is not biased towards broadcasters or advertisers. We will be able to give the true reach of digital which will be common currency,” says Kenny.
Anand says that today, every channel business is worried that they are losing to digital. “When this measurement happens, it becomes part of the channels’ overall viewership and they feel there is an ownership. It is a win-win situation. This is really big for us,” he adds. The panel then discussed how, going beyond catch-up television, almost all players – Star, Zee, Sony and Viacom – have started creating shows exclusively for the digital medium. Anand adds that for the digital content to see adoption, there needs to be a sense of urgency from the audience, which is usually seen for sports, news or a favourite television show.
However, there is no sure-shot formula to find out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to content. “Content creation is always shooting in the dark. In India, the success rate of content creation is just about 7-8 percent,” says Zulfiqar Khan, business head, EROS NOW. Gandhi points out that the players should also not be expected to create 100 hours of digital content in a year. He adds, “The industry is only a year-and-a-half years old. Allow us time to dip our toes, see what else we can do and push our limits.”
Transparency in measurement
India’s sole TV viewership measurement company, BARC India, has set up an independent Disciplinary Council to further strengthen transparency and credibility of its measurement system. The 6-member BARC India Disciplinary Council (BDC) will investigate and address complaints related to viewership malpractices and tampering of BARC India’s measurement system. The BDC will be headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal, Former Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, and has D Shivanandan, Former Mumbai Police Commissioner and DGP Maharashtra, and Paritosh Joshi, Independent Technical Expert as its members. Sujeet Jain, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary, Viacom18; CVL Srinivas, CEO South Asia, GroupM; and Pankaj Phadnis, AVP Corporate Legal, GCPL, are the other members, representing the three stakeholder bodies: IBF, AAAI, and ISA.
The six-member council has been set up by BARC to investigate and address complaints pertaining to viewership malpractices and tampering of BARC India’s measurement system. The joint industry body also appointed Sujeet Jain, group general counsel and company secretary at Viacom18; C.V.L. Srinivas, chief executive officer, South Asia, at media agency GroupM, and Pankaj Phadnis, associate vice president, corporate legal at Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GCPL) as members who will represent broadcast stakeholder bodies Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), respectively.
Other members of the committee include D. Shivanandan, former Mumbai police commissioner and Maharashtra DGP, and Paritosh Joshi, independent technical expert. “The BDC is a step forward in our commitment to ensuring transparency, and eradicating this long existing malpractice of panel tampering. We hope to build further credibility in our processes and systems under guidance of Justice Mukul Mudgal. The independent council will also benefit from the advice of a seasoned law enforcement expert like Mr. Shivanandan, and the continued support of industry stakeholders,” Partho Dasgupta, BARC India chief executive, said in a statement.
Additionally, BARC India has set up a vigilance team to probe viewership malpractices’ complaints and investigate irregular viewership data recorded from BARC India panel households (houses where BARC has installed metres to map viewership). The disciplinary council will independently examine vigilance team reports and can take punitive action against the parties as well. “The action could range from written warning and a fine for first level offence, to suspension of viewership data for 3 months, leading up to termination of BARC India’s contract with subscriber,” BARC said in a statement.
The Disciplinary Council will independently examine Vigilance Team reports, and where culpability is clearly established, it will be empowered to order punitive action appropriate to the level of offence. The action could range from written warning and a fine for first level offence, to suspension of viewership data for three months, leading up to termination of BARC India’s contract with the subscriber. Alongside setting up of the high-level BDC, BARC India has re-drafted terms of the contract it signs with its subscribers. This has been done to address limitations in the current End User License Agreements (EULA) and strengthen legal provisions that will allow the BDC to act against viewership malpractices. The updated EULA will soon be circulated to all BARC India subscribers, and they would be required to sign them.
“The BDC is a step forward in our commitment to ensuring transparency, and eradicating this long existing malpractice of panel tampering. We hope to build further credibility in our processes and systems under guidance of Justice Mukul Mudgal. The independent Council will also benefit from the advice of a seasoned law enforcement expert like Mr. Shivanandan, and the continued support of industry stakeholders,” said Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India.