Today came to Jaipur as a panelist for INMA conference. My first appearance in a fora like this as a person from the print industry!
The topic was about how to drive readership growth in an era when circulation no. are growing healthily. Undoubtedly a hot topic and chose to take a very provocative stance! I realised one thing that industry needs to wake up and align to the issues related readership measurement! Enough time has been wasted by criticising the survey when we haven’t understood the fundamentals of the methodology, let alone taking advantage of it! In fact one senior leader from one noteworthy publication casted insinuation about a competitive publication rigging the data and blaming the body under which the research is conducted. I wonder if he is so sure about his information then why is he not taking action against. He is a senior leader. He should realise the price he is paying for his inaction. Neither he is seen in any meeting when he is called to participate in the body. These are the people, to my mind, are the stumbling block for any kind of change. I agree there are some serious lacunae in the methodology of the research. But we must also realise this is the best we can have in the current situation. So we have two options in hand. Either we follow the methodology and have some readership figure for print or completely junk it as we are not capable of having anything better than the current one. In the second case, I would imagine we would bring back the stone age. If a media is not measurable, then advertisers would not put money on that medium. Then all the critics of the research would have to look for another industry for jobs.
So as an industry person, my suggestion would be, even if you have to vent your frustration, do it as an insider rather than an outsider. This is an age of collaboration. So if we believe that readership no. are important for our growth then we must collaborate with MRUC and make our voice counted. It is not easy to be a part of that body as most of these meetings happen on Saturdays. Also this is a honorary service.
I understand that circulation growth itself is an uphill task! On top of the when it is not translated into readership growth, it is a bitter pill to swallow. But it is also true that very few of us taken any concerted measure to grow our readership. We always believed that by chasing circulation no. blindfoldedly we will drive our readership no. But that’s not true. Ultimately readership is a sample survey conducted among readers, whereas circulation is audited by a body of chartered accountants! The second one is done within the four walls and other one is done at the market level. We only need to understand the difference and align with the reality. Much later comes a way to monetize that readership figure.