The advent of Peoples Meter in Pakistan
After much hype spanning over a good decade, people meters finally arrived in Pakistan in September 2007. The media planner, who was earlier surviving on a mere mental recall of who watched what & when, can now fuel their media plans with real time TV ratings. And what a fuel it is!
Real time provision of ratings have made longtime giants look mellowed down and have brought some neglected ones to light. A simple comparison of Diary vs. PM data provides a much needed shock to the senses.
But this, of course, is common knowledge. However, the fact that is frequently underestimated by advertisers & broadcasters alike is that this dip in ratings is a blessing in disguise. Where diary system is entirely memory based, it keeps reporting names [TV channels] that are top of mind among the masses. The other force at play here is ‘memory decay’.
TV RATINGS RECORDING PROCESS AND THE DEMON OF MEMORY DECAY
Since PM is a fully digital system, it eliminates the factor of ‘memory decay’ while recording TV viewership data. Memory decay was a main reason of concern for diary data, as the diaries are collected at the end of a week and there are ample possibilities of the respondent filling in the diary at the end of the week only, right before collection or at least after considerable time lag since the time TV was actually watched, making the respondent more prone to memory decay.
This very factor then goes on to explain how & why do we get much lower channel ratings on PM as compared to diary. In so many words, diary data, being memory based, shows higher ratings for channels/programs that are TOM. Where more recall means, more mention and hence higher ratings.
BREAKING PRE-CONCEIVED NOTIONS
The onset of PM data broke many pre-conceived notions regarding entertainment channels beating the rest of the channel genres by a very high margin. Entertainment channels do have a higher rating but other genres have picked up too e.g. news & sports channels etc. This, in effect, means that you can also reach your audience through channels other than entertainment and that too at a much lower cost.
Although PM has been plagued with less than normal conditions and turbulent, inconsistent political times since its inception in Pakistan, it has still managed to provide more accurate digitally recorded data with prompt online data updating directly into its software.
COST OR BENEFIT – BUSTING A MYTH
Like all good things in life, there is a cost attached to using PM rating system too, apart from the financial costs involved. This one comes in the form of a higher CPRP (Cost per Rating Point). The apparent reason for this is the fact that PM is reporting lesser ratings than diary for almost every channel & timeslot. Since;
GRPs = Ratings x Frequency
CPRP = Total spend/Total GRPs
Thus lesser ratings as compared to those fetched by a diary system, eventually produce a higher CPRP. But this must not be viewed as a disadvantage. The lower CPRPs achieved through diary system was only a pretty picture with inherent flaws & less than enough evidence to support the higher ratings produced.
THE REAL DOWNSIDE – COVERAGE AREA
When a media planner plans or a media buyer buys media, it is not based on specific cities in the country. Similarly, campaigns are almost never evaluated on parameters like how did they fare in metro cities. Therefore in order to make PM data industry currency, it will at least have to cover Urban Pakistan OR Top 10 cities in order to base media planning & buying on it.
So far, people meter is present in only 4 cities of Pakistan, including 3 metros & Faisalabad. But these are hopefully not the only cities to where it is limiting itself. According to the PM authorities, they will be expanding into 3 more cities namely Sakkar, Bahawalpur & Peshawar sooner than later. This should expand the scope of Pakistan’s urban representation within PM. But the bare minimum coverage they should target is top 10 urban cities in order to make PM ratings industry currency at least for Urban Pakistan!
Some would still argue & compare it with diary, which is present on a national basis. However, directional data available on relatively restricted base is always better than non-directional data available on a wider base.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
FAQ # 1: How can PM data be used to my/my brands’ advantage?
We can have a better direction on how is TV viewing happening in ‘real time’ than to just base our judgments on how people ‘recall’ what they watched or for how long.
TV media plans can be pre-evaluated based on PM data using the new Singular Media Campaign Manager (SMCM) to see what direction is a brand taking on the real-time ratings based GRP accumulation. Though, lower channel & time-slot ratings through PM will consequently translate into lesser GRPs and hence a higher CPRP. But this will still be better for the brand as it will produce a true picture of how is a brand’s communication faring in the real world.
TV plans will then be post evaluated using SMCM to see the plan’s effectiveness and the benefits to the brand communication in real life.
FAQ # 2: Are there any other benefits of getting PM data other than getting PM ratings based TV plans?
In one word –Yes! PM data forms the input base of many additional and highly beneficial utilities that GroupM can offer its clients, e.g. Media Plan Optimizer. An optimizer is a system/software that feeds on historical PM data to produce the best possible TV plan options, working on different spend, GRP & reach levels.
FAQ # 3: Are they using a sound methodology to produce PM ratings?
For one, PM ratings producing agency has complete support from PAS (Pakistan Advertisers’ Society). Second, if PM has to stay here for good, it will have to employ sound methodologies, proper techniques & ethical practices because if it doesn’t, it won’t sustain for long. These facts alone are substantial to provide an answer to this question!
FAQ # 4: Does it mean that diary is now obsolete?
Not until we have PM installed at a national level and can have a national base to evaluate our media plans on! People meters, although hasn’t rendered diary completely useless, it has induced much more efficiency into the TV ratings recording process by eliminating any chances of manual error.
Although it is still only present in top 3 cities and is planning to add 3-4 more cities shortly, it has given a new dimension to ratings data and a new direction to media planning. Most of all, People meters is the way by which the future will be.
PEOPLE METERS VS. DIARY AT A GLANCE
- Data recorded manually
- Memory based weekly data
- Data recording done by the
- National with 2400 respondents
- Diary filled by a selected
individual within the house at
the end of the day. The diary is
collected after a week or so.
Whatever they can recall or is
TOM is mostly recorded.
- Data recorded digitally
- Real time immediate data
- Data recorded directly into the
digital system attached to the
- Four cities only (Khi/Lhr/Rwl-
Isb/Fsd) with 3500 respondents
in 500 homes
- A digital system automatically
updated whenever any
household member views
something, through a device
installed into the TV.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Despite the advent of a better rating system, it will not be wise to expect that the road ahead is going to be smooth. Because it is not. PM has come to Pakistan but still has to overcome many hindrances & cover a lot of milestones. This is just a start of a journey promising better future returns and the pastures look green!
Been associated with Media & Research for almost 9 years. Worked as a media planner in the beginning of my career but having stumbled upon a Research industry job opportunity, found the field I was meant to be in at a rather early stage. Ever since then, there has been no turning back. Have worked for prestigious employers like Mindshare, ACNielsen/The Nielsen Company, Aftab Associates. Have the privilege of being part of & many a times driving many FIRSTs, including; 1st Lux Style Awards show in PAK, Researching the concept & acceptance of super & hyper markets in PAK, 1st ever media plan optimization system'S implementation in PAK for GroupM, 1st ever syndicated Radio listenership study, and finally the 1st ever GroupM newsletter 'MediaTrix'.