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Will WAM become a common measuring tool for Digital like TAM, RAM are for TV, Radio?

by Satrajit Sen

IMRB International and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have jointly launched Web Audience Measurement (WAM), a tool to measure internet usage in India. According to IMRB, the tool will not just measure how many people access the internet, but also their demographics – age, sex, which regions they come from and their usage habits.

by Satrajit Sen

IMRB International and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have jointly launched Web Audience Measurement (WAM), a tool to measure internet usage in India. According to IMRB, the tool will not just measure how many people access the internet, but also their demographics – age, sex, which regions they come from and their usage habits.

“WAM is a software meter and is custom built for India. The meter needs permission from the user to track the websites he or she is visiting and captures the data and sends them back to our IMRB servers. The meter works with multi browsers but doesn’t count HTTPS sites,” Balendu Shrivastava, group business director, IMRB International, has told AlooTechie.

The panel based system is capable of capturing audience data across multiple browsers (IE, Chrome and Firefox) and messengers (Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live and Google Talk). The system also captures data across internet access points including cyber cafe, homes and offices. The data captured from the system is projected to the audience universe determined by the industry defining I-Cube research.

According to Balendu Shrivastava, the panel size for WAM is now 5,000 individuals divided across geographies of five metros and the rest of India. “The tool is uniquely made for India and other emerging nations and one of its major USP is that it provides the report just the way RAM and TAM do for radio and TV respectively. Media planners and advertisers won’t need to learn any new terminology to understand the medium better. Again, the rating system, that is WRP (Web Rating Point) is very similar to TRP (Television Rating Point) where the only difference is that TRP is minute-based and WRP is second-based,” Shrivastava added.

Following the development, AlooTechie caught up with some of the key online media planners in the country and a representative of IAMAI to know their take on how they see WAM helping gain the advertisers’ confidence on digital media in India.

Mehul Gupta, associate vice president, IAMAI said that over the years it has been realized that there is a big gap in having a foolproof, accurate and media planner friendly measurement system for Internet. “WRP is being introduced, which will be the proposed currency for media buying in the Internet space, just like TRP in the Television space. The system which follows the traditional tenets of audience measurement has been piloted for over a year. The panel based approach adopted by the system has been made possible due to a unique metering technology custom built for the Indian market. Following the key principle of measuring audiences and not machines, the meter is capable of capturing usage data from multiple machines attributing to the same panellist. Further, the meter allows the flexibility of capturing only the panel member’s data in case a machine is used by multiple users,” he added.

Voicing his thoughts on observing simplicity of data that is provided, Madan Sanglikar, principal partner, invention, Mindshare India said that the best part of WAM is that they are looking at providing the data in a lingo that the advertisers understand the best. “Spends on the digital media industry will definitely grow and the fact that the media is now measurable in a language that advertisers understand opportunities will increase. With players like comScore, ViziSense, Google etc already present in the market and with the likes of IMRB coming in, advertisers can now pick and choose a common consolidated data from a platter,” Sanglikar added.

However, Madan Sanglikar said that it is somewhat early to comment on whether WAM would become the uniform measuring tool for the digital industry. “It is still early days and the medium is just 10 years old. We need more players and international names like Nielson to come with more robust measurement system for the Indian market,” added Sanglikar.

Pointing out the importance of a decent panel size for any audience measurement tool, Vivek Iyer, vice president and national head of media, Interactive Avenues said that currently there are many authentic sources like comScore that report audience size and also demographics like age and gender. “The initiative is a healthy one but depends on methodologies including size of the panel, a good representation of the universe. Currently, IRS (Indian Readership Survey) hugely under reports the audience size itself. If the base itself is under reported, it will not impact digital spends significantly,” added Iyer.

However, according to Iyer, there are some positives from this initiative that will give media planners a standard metric to go by. “Pre and post campaign will be defined on the same audience and offline planners will get used to getting reports from a tool like they do on TV,” said Vivek Iyer.

It might be too early to say whether WAM can really inspire traditional advertisers to increase their ad spend on digital, but as of now, the tool definitely looks promising as it claims to offer the data in a language that the traditional advertisers can easily understand. Though the panel size appears to be on the lower side now, given IMRB’s name, it is definitely bound to increase fast in future. With all these, we can only hope the digital media gets its fair share in the country’s overall media spend pie.

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