| 26 Aug 2019
TAM Media Research vice president Pradeep Hejmadi - 'Kolkata should be on our radar by June'

It's been a hectic six months for TAM Media Research's Radio Audience Measurement wing, which launched in the three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in November 2007. Launching the service for the first time in the country meant meeting up with media agencies, advertisers, traveling across radio stations, across markets and taking them through the establishment results.

The agency is now planning to launch services in Kolkata by the end of June.TAM Media Research vice president Pradeep Hejmadi shared his insights on the changing radio scenario with


How have the last six months been for RAM?

From our perspective, it has been very hectic, and Kolkata should be on our radar soon too. We had to spend time with media agencies, advertisers, broadcasters, explaining how exactly the system was crafted. Whatever perception or conventional wisdom based issues people had with measurement too had to be addressed. We also understood what additional needs people had, went back to the developers, the software had to be enabled to address these requirements.

Also, people also now want data on a far frequent basis, particularly to monitor the success or otherwise of short term campaigns. While we are continually aiming at increasing awareness, not all broadcasters and planners are at the same level as we would like, from our perspective. We will focus on radio as part of our media view this year, by having radio specific workshops for media planners and buyers. Education is a constant exercise. The important thing is today broadcasters have understood how the system can be used.

When will RAM services launch in Kolkata?

The baseline study is over. By the end of June, we should have the system on. Kolkata seems quite unique from the other markets we are seeing. The FM penetration in Kolkata is lower than the other markets we have monitored so far. The listening profile is also quite different - while in Bangalore, we find it peaking around 5.30 or so in the morning, Kolkata stands somewhere between Mumbai and Delhi. It peaks a little later in the day, stays flat, drops down and then picks up again later in the evening. That's something broadcasters are going to find very difficult to deal with. Unlike a TV, which creates a watering hole around a show across many markets, the same time slot can yield very different listenership patterns in different markets. A lot of localized understanding of that medium is required.

Multiple device ownership patterns and portability of the music listening device is as much evident in Kolkata as in the other metros, but the percentage of people who own multiple devices is smaller, around 42 per cent while it's around 50 per cent in the other markets, but portability is still in the 90 per cent range. Listening in Kolkata too is still predominantly at home.

Which are the cities next on RAM's radar?

Chennai and Hyderabad are next on the radar.Even the tier II cities will be on the RAM radar in days to come, though we are evaluating what kind of technology can be used in these places, whether the periodic diary method can be used, because the number of stations playing in these markets and the economy that is currently at play in these markets might make it a bit difficult initially.

We have spent about a year training people - via training sessions, pushing out information by putting up papers on the Internet, via newsletters, but the inertia hasn't gone. Once that happens, the momentum will pick up. It's the training that's a big challenge for us.

In November last year, TAM spoke about electronic meters that could be put to use in the future. Will that happen anytime soon?

Mark Neely should be coming down soon from Australia, where lab testing of some devices has already been done. We would like to talk to the industry here to test these electronic devices, possibly bring in a third party auditor to audit the process of how the electronic systems could work here, so that we can have a transparent evaluation of that system. It is a challenge to bring in electronic measurement, mainly due to the variety of devices available - Korean, Chinese makes, iPods with measuring attachments, the device has to be compatible with the market we launch it in.

Will it mean more accuracy of data?

It will definitely mean more granulity of data. Our effort is help people understand what happens when you bring in more granulity.

It depends on how you use this data. It is important for the industry to adopt a research based approach to the data.. For instance, in Bangalore, you have 40 per cent of the population tuned into radio at television prime time, which probably means they are not watching TV at that time. So, advertisers and media agencies need to start evaluating from that perspective. That's why the granulity of data will become important, so that such data can be leveraged to an advertiser's optimum use.

RAM data seems to be shaping the direction programming is taking in Bangalore...

Interestingly, the profile of the Bangalore listener has changed over one year. Among the others, it is the only market that's been showing continuous growth. There's also a lot of diversity there - from a population perspective as well as a content perspective. Some stations are playing 95 per cent Kannada, another that plays 78 per cent Hindi, and a station that plays Kannada, Tamil as well as Telugu. All this keeps the market on a beautiful growth curve. Kannada music has emerged as a very strong content driver. They are creating differentiation there, and it seems to be paying returns too. If you are consistent and communicate well, the strategy works, even in a city like Mumbai.

On the commercial part, where advertiser interest needs to pick up, there's still a lot of work left. In radio, the top advertisers are contributing merely three to four per cent. FMCGs are still conspicuous by their absence.

Is All India Radio too evincing any interest in RAM data?

We are in touch with the All India Radio people. In some markets, they have a clear advantage. They play English content late at night, and get very good traction there. I am sure that's motivated a lot of private stations too to pick up the trend. There are huge spikes whenever live sports commentary is aired. The challenge for AIR though is marketing. If that improves, there's tremendous potential for growth.