Prashnam: The Story and the Science (Part 7)

Use Cases

In India recently, a huge controversy has broken out on TV ratings which are published by BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council). The ratings have been allegedly manipulated by some channels. Given that advertisers spend tens of thousands of crores based on these ratings, the incentive to tamper with the process is definitely there.

So, just what is the process? BARC has 44,000 meters put in households across the country – thus creating a fixed panel of television viewers. Data from these meters is then collected and collated to provide weekly ratings. The location of the meters do not change for a substantial period of time. You can imagine what can be done if some of the households where the meters are present are identified. And therein lies the problem.

Now, imagine an alternate solution. A random sample of a few hundred people can be surveyed daily about what they watched. The sample can be changed daily so no manipulation can be done. Because the cost of IVR surveys is much lower, the frequency can be increased. Results can be made available in near real-time on the viewing habits of people.

This is the power that Prashnam’s solution can bring to the table. By randomising the sample, bringing down cost and eliminating errors, Prashnam can revolutionise surveys. Quick surveys, done frequently, can provide better inputs for decision-making. Consider, how several US agencies do it (look not just at the sample size but also at the frequency):

  • US Presidential surveys get inputs from 900-1000 people via phone on a daily or weekly basis to provide insights into what 200 million American voters are thinking
  • University of Michigan’s Consumer Confidence survey does 500 interviews each month
  • The US Federal Reserve Inflation Expectations survey covers 1300 households and is done monthly
  • The US Purchasing Manager’s Index surveys 400 senior purchasing managers monthly

Prashnam can bring the same ease and affordability to surveys in India. It is up to the imagination of decision-makers to use it. What we have created is an engine whose power is only limited by the human mind.

Did people see your ad in the 8 pm TV serial? What should be the angle on the 9 pm prime time TV show? What hair oil are people using? What is the perception of your detergent brand among consumers? Which candidate should be given the ticket for the election? What is public perception about government programmes? Which marketing slogan sounds better? Which song tune will work better? For all the questions, a Prashnam survey can provide quick answers. The Prashnam use cases are many and unlimited. Just like Google’s search box.


For me, Prashnam is the culmination of a journey that began during the 2014 election campaign. The seeds were sown then, the tree has grown. My hope is that it finds use in hundreds of daily decisions that people make. As we say on the Prashnam website: “No longer does one have to make big decisions based entirely on one’s intuition or in isolation. No longer does one have to be told by self-styled pundits on what people think. Our platform seeks to revolutionise the insight gathering process cutting times from weeks to mere hours.” Try it out and experience the magic!

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.