NEW DELHI: The year ahead will bring further changes to India's ratings system and better measurement will lead to better monetisation of an otherwise underleveraged advertising industry, a leading figure has said.

Shashi Sinha, CEO/India of media agency IPG Mediabrands, described the advent of BARC ratings in 2015 as "a revolution" and was optimistic that BARC digital ratings and an upscale panel would follow in 2016.

With ABC ratings for print and digital publishers also due to be introduced, he suggested that only social media remained as "the biggest missing link to big data".

Writing in the Economic Times, Sinha outlined some of the benefits that would flow from these developments, starting with the impact of BARC's rural TV ratings, the first of which were released in October last year.

"For a lot of companies, and not only large FMCGs, future growth will come from the progress rural India makes and the consumption power in the hands of these consumers," he observed.

"I don't think any one of us have a clue or have made any beginning as to what the rural consumer wants for his or her entertainment needs," he added. "The big opportunity of 2016 will be creating differentiated content for rural audiences."

Digital ratings will "give legitimacy to digital content providers [and] also allow broadcasters to leverage and monetise their platforms better".

And Sisha maintained that these, coupled with a planned upscale panel, "will be a game changer" for niche channels which typically have a wealthier audience than mainstream general entertainment channels.

"I see a future where many brands targeted to the NCCS A – like cars – will use these channels as their primary advertising medium, backed by data that they are using the right vehicles, unlike today where it's more a leap of faith or judgment."

Away from television, ABC digital ratings and a panel to indicate demographic profiles are set to help print owners better monetise their digital assets.

And while social media currently lacks these sort of measurement solutions, Sisha noted the potential to mine the huge volume of data available to uncover deeper consumer insights rather than simply pursuing brand engagement.

Warc's latest International Ad Forecast estimates that Indian TV adspend amounted to US$2.6bn in 2015, a rise of 10.4% from the previous year. Internet adspend is believed to have grown some 34% during this time, but is still less than a third of the TV total.

Mobile advertising is still nascent in the country, with respondents to Warc's latest State of the Industry survey often citing a lack of reliable measurement tools as a key hindrance to industry growth.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff