MUMBAI: Major brands owners, including Hindustan Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Godrej, have threatened to pull their advertising from eight leading Indian TV networks which have asked the country's ratings agency to report viewing figures monthly rather than weekly.
The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) said they had not been consulted and the decision to change to monthly ratings had been taken unilaterally by the broadcasters.
Arvind Sharma, AAAI president, warned the move would result in "a disorderly and hybrid measurement system".
He told Campaign India: "It will become impossible for advertising agencies and advertisers to plan and therefore buy TV spots. In this scenario, it is natural for advertisers to begin to question the value of advertising in this medium at all."
There was widespread dismay among agencies, who, far from wanting monthly data, saw weekly data as a minimum and were pushing for more real-time information.
"Weekly data helps us and the clients to take corrective measures in time or measure the effectiveness of a campaign," said Amin Lakhani, principal partner, The Exchange, Fulcrum, at MindShare. Waiting 30 days, he commented, "will only prove regressive".
Anita Nayyar, CEO India & South Asia, Havas Media, estimated that advertisers' cancellation of release spots could lead to an inventory loss of between 60% and 70% across the 100 or so channels operated by the eight networks.
Among advertisers, Ajay Kakar, the chief marketing officer for financial services at the Aditya Birla conglomerate, expected that other media would profit as a result.
"I see more of non-TV options gaining real momentum, thanks to this situation especially in digital, cinema with audio-visual deliveries," he said, adding that print would also benefit.
Indiantelevision.com noted that eight hours after the advertisers' deadline, TV commercials were continuing to air on most channels and explained that this was because contracts stated that cancellations required a 14-day notice period.
With broadcasters having called the advertisers' bluff, it appears that ads will remain on air at least until the end of the month.
Data sourced from Campaign India, Indiantelevision.com; additional content by Warc staff