Saturday, November 11, 2006

National Readership Survey: There’s something rotten in the Kingdom of Benchmark

NRS is the benchmark by which advertising rates are set, the tool that marketers use to measure the reach of their print campaigns. It’s a survey that decides the rate card, it’s a survey that makes and breaks publications. And a survey that could make or break products.
And every year for the past few years, we've been witness to a familiar sequence: the NRS results are announced, disputed immediately after, and corrected after a gap of a month or two.
This year has been no different – except the mess is worse.
Consider this admitted lapse:
Nai Dunia sees an increased readership of 3,84,000 to reach 1,107,000 as per revised data. “NRSC explained that the problem in Nai Dunia was due to a masthead confusion and correspondingly Dainik Nai Dunia has dropped from the 828,000 that the paper was showing to 433,000 – a drop of 395,000” . The entire story on NRS can be read here.
The illustration is just one of numerous instances where the NRS Council has admitted to an error and subsequently found reason to correct it.
Why can’t we reach a stage where the quality of the survey is such that it becomes a trusted, reliable and stable currency?
Why don’t publishers and researchers lock themselves up in an offsite which takes as long is required to solve such problems once and for all?
Why don’t advertisers demand that NRS gets its act together, as erroneous NRS figures may not just result in faulty media planning but in loss of sales?
Why? Why? Why?

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