Viewership data for the TV news genre will be released from March 17, with three-month historical data. However, one area that remains thorny for the industry is the audience coming from the landing page.
According to industry executives, BARC India is facing a tough time to build consensus among all news outlets to regain the ratings of the news genre.
The landing page, which allows channels to be the first the viewer lands on automatically when they turn on the TV, was deemed a legal marketing tool by TDSAT in May 2019.
However, the landing page has been at the center of almost every issue the rating organization has faced.
Although all genres use this tool very frequently to increase viewership, the entry of a few news channels has made this tool much more controversial.
BestMediaInfo.com repeatedly pointed out (here and here) that the landing page was the “tool” used by former BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta to take down Times Now and benefit Republic TV when it launched in May 2017.
Acquisory’s forensic report found that Republic TV’s final viewership data after outlier clean-up surprisingly increased by 10, 4, and 3 TVT in weeks 27, 39, and 46 of 2017, respectively. While about half of Times Now’s viewership was shut out despite Dasgupta being aware of Republic TV’s landing deals.
Looking at this, some broadcasters, especially those who refrain from burning crores on this tool, are asking BARC India to come up with an acceptable and logical solution to this problem.
On the other hand, there are channels that have invested heavily in buying landing pages and are in favor of measuring landing page data. And those channels include Times Now, which has already fallen victim to the landing page phenomenon.
Nearly five years after the launch of Republic TV, the landing page remains the most controversial aspect of ratings.
As of January 14, 2022, more than 180 head-ends across the country are using landing pages from various news channels including News18 India, TV9 Bharatvarsh, Republic Bharat, ABP News, Times Now, Republic TV, Mirror Now and CNN -News18.
Several sources told BestMediaInfo.com that these channels continued their landing page strategy even during the dark rankings period so that they could benefit from historical data to release with current data. The ratings will be released on March 17, 2022 with three months historical data.
Most of these chains expect a return on investment, as BARC India’s outlier policy is algorithm-based and cannot completely eliminate the impact of the landing page.
Then there are the broadcasters who bet on their content and prioritize profitability over creating another monster like “placement fees”.
“There are some channels that cannot even afford to buy landing pages that cost between 2X and 3X of the regular carriage contract. For example, if a channel signs a distribution agreement with a cable company for Rs 10 lakh per year, the same deal costs around Rs 40 lakh with landing page,” a broadcasting industry expert said.
A channel typically spends around Rs 50 crore for distribution to 3,500 headends. But landing page offerings are locked in with large headends in strategic markets considered important from an audience perspective for that channel. The landing pages of a Hindi news channel on 50 large headends cost almost the same as spent on the entire distribution.
These broadcasters are pushing for parity and a level playing field. They want the impact of the landing page either completely removed from the final data or reported separately.
Either way, the return on investment for broadcasters investing in landing pages would be severely impacted.
The combination of reach and average time spent (ATS) comes from good content, while a sudden increase in either is treated as an outlier by the system. Higher reach suddenly indicates a landing page or multiple locations in a channel, while high ATS triggers alarms about home panel tampering. Some DPOs and MSOs can lock sync to force a landing page to be watched for a certain amount of time and it is possible to do this through the backend settings.
How do advertisers perceive this?
Use of the landing page by English channels may lead to audience spillover, as advertisers paying for niche English audiences will also attract regional viewers.
The non-segregation of audience data also makes it difficult for advertisers to determine whether their invested money is producing the right ROI or not.
On the other hand, for many advertisers, it doesn’t matter if the reach comes from the landing page, especially if the goal of the campaign is to generate reach.
BARC India does not report any information on the impact of the landing on viewership.
A large, major TV news advertiser said it was important to him to have a complete picture of the audience when planning media spend. It is therefore important to know the impact of the landing page on the audience of any channel.
The last update the industry heard from BARC India about the landing page was before the TRP scam broke. On September 3, 2020, BARC India introduced algorithms in its data validation method to mitigate the impact of the landing page on audience data across all channel genres.
Derrick Gray, Head of Measurement Science and Business Analytics, BARC India, had asserted that BARC India would now be able to smooth out any anomalies in the landing page to better reflect viewer choice.
Previously, outliers were removed based on symptomatic statistics. BARC has replaced it with a method that uses inferential statistics directly to provide better results across genres.
BARC India is said to have further improved the management of outliers during the dark rating period. But is it infallible? No one can claim that.
In order to bring transparency into the outlier management system and create consensus among all stakeholders on this issue, reporting the impact of landing pages separately is so far considered a ground of controversy. agreement.
“It wouldn’t give an unfair advantage to the channel using the landing page because the advertiser would experience spillover,” said another broadcast expert, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“However, the flip side is that the same channel can continue to create problems for BARC India every week by investigating why a ‘certain’ number is assigned to the landing page,” the expert added.
BARC had done this once in the past. Reporting viewership data for the English news genre for week 33 of 2018 on August 27, 2018, BARC had mentioned above the graph: “Some channels in the genre are seeing higher growth in week 33 2018 due to some changes on the pitch.”
Experts say the rating agency needs to do this more precisely, revealing the exact impact and not leaving it opaque and vague for different interpretations.
“The possible solution is for the agency to spell out the data from the landing pages in a more granular form and in a defined format. So that it becomes clear to both advertisers and broadcasters and that there is no no controversies in the future,” added the expert.