Ipsos plans phone-based ad market monitoring
Posted Sunday, August 19 2012 at 16:26
Research firm Ipsos Synovate is set to automate its media monitoring activities to improve credibility of audience shares in the multi-billion-shilling advertising market.
The firm has been relying on hardcopy diaries filled by audiences or readers to gauge the popularity of various media channels, opening the responses to inaccuracies and manipulation.
It is now testing smartphone-based media monitoring dubbed MediaCell that will send real-time data on media consumption for instant analysis in a central computerised centre.
The full rollout is expected in the first quarter of 2013 with the investment expected to cost Sh340 million.
“People have their smartphones around them nearly all the time and this gives us an opportunity to track their media consumption in a more accurate fashion,” said Joe Otin, the director of media monitoring at Ipsos Synovate.
A proprietary software is installed into a smartphone which enables it to detect the duration and radio or TV channel, with information sent automatically via mobile data networks. Readers will also be able to send in the brand of newspaper read on a particular day.
“This automation means that the process is passive and unintrusive,” Mr Otin said, adding that it eliminates the problem of respondents walking with their diaries and failing to record the precise duration of listening to various channels.
Other activities and communication details of the respondents such as text messages or websites visited will not be recorded, Mr Otin said.
Ipsos is the sole media researcher for the Kenya Audience Research Foundation (Karf) made up of media buying agencies, large advertisers such as Safaricom, Coca-Cola, and a section of media owners.
Audience share is the percentage of people with access to radio or television tuned to a particular channel during a specific period. It is used to rate the popularity of radio and television stations, in effect guiding advertisers on the most effective channels to use and when.
The current media monitoring system sparked a storm last year when Ipsos had to cancel its second quarter audience share research amid allegations that its field agents had been compromised.
They had stated that more than 51 per cent of radio listeners in Nairobi tuned in to Kikuyu language stations, a major market shift that Ipsos rejected on grounds that there was no significant event to justify it.
A number of media owners have raised concern over the credibility of the data, with some opting to start their own internal research.
“We stopped buying Ipsos research because the variances were extreme. We now do our own research,” said Martin Khafafa, the radio general manager at Radio Africa Group. The Ipsos reports are published quarterly and cost an average of Sh200,000.
The automated system is expected to restore confidence and play a critical role in guiding advertisers as the country shifts to digital television broadcasting that is set to usher in more players riding on cheaper setup costs.