Audience-measurement agency TAM (Television Audience Measurement) has issued its latest advisory to its clients — an exhaustive list of guidelines telling users how not to use TAM data but with no compulsion to follow this advisory.
TAM CEO LV Krishnan, in an interview to Storyboard editor Anant Rangaswami, that he hopes the guidelines will allow broadcasters to effectively interpret audience data.
Below is the edited transcript of the interview on CNBC-TV18
Q: What do you plan to achieve with these guidelines?
A: These guidelines are to explain to the user, from our perspective, the manner by which the data is to be used and interpreted. The guidelines were also issued to alert industry bodies to check if certain norms were followed by broadcasters while reaching out to their target audience.
Q: Why doesn't TAM stipulate the use of its data?
A: We are not a policing agency. On the other hand, industry bodies are better positioned to actually start looking at each violations and take action
Q: Broadcasters have demanded TAM not to report data that is below the limit of the overall genre. So why don’t you just stop that reporting below a certain threshold?
A: There are two levels to this reporting exercise —a sample-sized limitation level and the viewer-threshold level. TAM already follows the global guideline that deals with sample-size restrictions. So below a certain sample size, the software refuses to accept any output in at all. So, while the first level has been implemented, the implementation of the second level is still under consideration.
Two weeks ago, we submitted our proposal to the Transparency Panel. The panel examined the proposal and made some suggestions. We are working on those suggestions and are to submit it back in the coming weeks. Once we receive final approval, the second level of reporting will come into place. The Transparency Panel and few industry leaders pointed out that worldwide most of the markets report data the way it is and do not suppress information.
Q: Even if it is statistically unviable?
A: Yes, even if it is statistically unviable. Not because it is statistically unviable, but because the priority of the marketplace is that whatever data is collected has to be directly reported back to the marketplace. It is up to the user to decide on not use that particular data. That’s where guidelines come into play. Certainly from TAM perspective, a threshold is some thing that we could look at. We have already submitted that perspective in terms of analysis to the Transparency Panel which has offered its suggestions.
Q: How do you plan to offset the impact of data from one household that shows a crazy amount of time spent watching television and put a channel on the top?
A: That’s where the practices come into play. We have an Outlier System that already has been developed and approved by the TTP panel to be implemented.
Q: By when will this system commence operations?
A: It is already in place. It has already been executed and is being implemented. All data runs through the Outlier System and there is an entire team that validates the data with respect to the outliers as well as in terms of inputs that goes into creating that particular viewing behaviour.
There is an algorithm in the system that takes care of that issue. At the same time, it needs to be improved upon. The TTP panel examined it, offers its views and is already under execution..
Q: What impact do you expect your guidelines to have?
A: I expect users getting a genuine feel for data and see the cause for usage of the guidelines. I also hope users will interact with industry bodies and confirm adherence to the norms in the advisory. I also hope problems with usage will diminish if we are able to increase sample sizes.