“BARC ratings are credible. The cross-media measure will be rolled out next year’

The Society of Advertisers of India (ISA) is set to host the ISA Global CEO Conference on August 22. exchange4media caught up with Sunil Kataria, Chairman of ISA and CEO of Raymond Lifestyle, to talk about the conference. During the conversation, Kataria also shared her perspective on a host of issues, including the controversy surrounding BARC ratings and the plan to start cross-media measurement for television channels.

Excerpts from the conversation:

You are completing your sixth term at the ISA. How successful have you been in achieving ISA’s goals and what new challenges await you?

My journey began with the preparation of a plan to prepare “the ISA for the future”. ISA has a big role to play in the future as it is the sole voice of advertisers that controls nearly two-thirds of non-government advertising. We identified six to seven areas to work on, such as unified cross-media measurement, brand safety issues, the need to become a stronger influential voice in the regulatory framework, and data management. It is a work in progress.

Previously, ISA had no full-time employees and all board members did their part while managing their own work. We hired a full-time CEO two years ago. Now things go faster. We work closely with the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) on certain common goals, such as creating cross-media metrics.

A lot has changed in the past two years around the world. What are the emerging trends in advertising/marketing in India? What is the difference with the world stage?

The pandemic has been a life-altering event for all of us. Indian consumers are now much more environmentally conscious and sensitive. Companies were not prepared to handle this fundamental shift and psychological shift in consumers. Brands are now reviewing their strategy to stay relevant.

In the west, consumers were already environmentally aware due to higher levels of education and awareness. Only the context has changed.

Due to multiple waves of Covid, inflation and other factors, there is a lot of uncertainty in the market. How can brands tackle VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity?

Our third Global CEO Conference, to be held in Mumbai on Monday, aims to address these challenges alone. The theme is actually VUCA 2.0.

Our first global conference was held in 2013 with the theme “VUCA”. He rose to the challenges of that decade. In 2019, our theme was “Digital”, as a significant portion of ad spend had begun to shift to digital platforms.

VUCA 2.0 seeks to address the new challenges in front of marketers posed by the pandemic as well as geopolitical factors. While the pandemic itself has caused multiple changes in the fabric of society and the economy, the interconnectedness of the world is having ripple effects on the economy, commodity prices, inflation and oil prices. fuel across the world after the Ukraine-Russia war, the repeated lockdown of ports and cities in China due to multiple waves of Covid and other incidents.

We invited high-level leaders such as Nitin Paranjpe, Chief People & Transformation Officer of Unilever, Shailesh Jejurikar – Chief Operating Officer – Procter & Gamble, and Raja Rajamannar of Mastercard who is the Chairman of WFA, to the conference to share their cross-cultural experiences.

Much has been written about what broadcasters think of BARC, but very little comes from advertisers. Chains always complain that measurement methods are not robust and credible. Some news channels have even withdrawn from BARC. What is your opinion on the BARC ratings?

I don’t want to comment on the channels that have decided to withdraw, but BARC ratings are credible, their measurement is quite robust. The BARC Technical Committee provides all the checks and balances to maintain total neutrality. Advertisers pay for what India watches. BARC metrics tell us what India is watching; who is watching and what.

How successful has the ISA been in creating cross-media measurement for TV channels?

Cross-media measurement is important because a significant portion of ad spend has now shifted to digital platforms. Nowhere in the world is there a unified system capable of measuring both digital video and TV. We work closely with BARC to deliver a unified cross-media measurement method. The system will be deployed in the first half of 2023.

Lately, many big brands have faced backlash on social media and been boycotted for certain ad campaigns. Are you concerned?

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right and everyone is entitled to it. However, brands should be a little careful and follow the self-regulatory guidelines set by ASCI when running ad campaigns. Brands need to find the right balance between freedom of expression and self-regulation.

The IRS has been on hold for two years. What is your position on this impasse?

I wouldn’t like to comment on the IRS just yet as I’m not updated on this.

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