Audit Results: Television Measurements In Armenia Cannot Be Considered Valid

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

Only one company in Armenia conducts TV audience measurements, the local organization Admosphere Armenia, whose partner is the Czech metering company Nielsen Admosphere. 

And the representatives of the media market have been claiming for a long time that there is a demand for a more detailed study of the activities of that company. 

The audit became known two years ago. There was a decision to allocate 26.6 million AMD from the government reserve fund to the board of the Public Television and Radio Company to conduct an international audit in “Admosphere Armenia.” The RA Prime Minister had assured that the monopoly of the TV field should be ended. 

Eventually, Media House Armenia Advertising and Marketing Center (the sales house), which sells TV commercials and airtime on a number of Armenian TV channels, commissioned the audit. 

It is the second sale house in Armenia, which was established in 2020 with the aim of balancing the monopoly position of the only sales house in Armenia, Media International Service, which has been operating in Armenia since 2013. The sales house is a mediator between advertisers and TV channels, and the most transparent and reliable measurements are a necessary tool to work in this field. 

The audit was carried out by the specialized international auditing company “3M3A” by the order of “Media House Armenia”. 

According to the results of the audit, the system used by  “Admosphere Armenia” when dealing with television measurements does not meet international standards. 

“It is completely flawed and it is impossible to rely on its measurements as a market currency. According to this conclusion, the measurements of  ‘Admosphere Armenia’ on TV audiences cannot be considered objective and valid, therefore, the provision of incorrect data to the TV market must be stopped immediately,” the final conclusion reads. 

For example, the audit found “critical deficiencies” in the main panel of data collection and considered a large number of household data to be unreliable. 

Since the data received from Armenian households are sent to the Czech Republic from “Admosphere Armenia” servers without the possibility of interference (hence manipulation) and processed in “Nielsen Admosphere,” it is doubtful how this data is collected. 

According to the inspections, it turns out that the basis of the violations is not so much the technical factor as the human factor. Figuratively speaking, not the peoplemeter, but the person themself. 

There is a concern that from the initial stage, the measuring company has interfered in the interviews of households and they cannot be considered honest. It turned out that the measuring company contacted about 20% of households (either visited or called) by giving them hints, which is unacceptable. 

Those who turned on the panel became a serious issue. That is, the choice of whose house the peoplemeter will be installed in. 

It has been proven that many households have moved from the previously formed list of households (created by yet another metric gauge “Telemediacontrol” and its partner, the Swiss GFK), while in 2015, “Admosphere Armenia” claimed that they created a completely new list based on a new study. 

The auditing company found coincidences in the dates and addresses of the people who joined the previous and current panel. And this is the case with 132 houses, which “Admosphere Armenia” “inherited” from “Telemediacontrol.” 

(“Telemediacontrol” quickly left the market in 2015 and “Admosphere Armenia” was formed just as quickly, otherwise Armenia would be left without a meter). 

It was confirmed that the identity of at least 41 houses was endangered, as third parties were aware of them. In that case, “Admosphere Armenia” was obliged to remove those households from the panel and replace them with new ones. Or stop the measurements until the problem is solved. And in any case, it should have informed its customers about it. Which it did not do. 

In addition, those who joined the panel lied while informing the auditors about their recruitment, and learned how to respond “correctly.” 

As a result, at least 91-94 houses are discredited because they have been directed or influenced. The vast majority of the panel – 231 houses – are not properly registered, there is no registration. This allows the auditors to consider that the coverage of the other houses is also no longer reliable. 

There are also gaps in the selection phase. For example, there are few houses with two TVs, there are no families where a single person lives, children are not registered for watching, and so on. 

It also became clear that the data collected a few years ago were either damaged or had disappeared, and “Admosphere Armenia” did not make duplicates of the files, which prevents it from compiling a summary picture. 

In any case, the audit insisted that the panel should be reorganized, as it is fundamentally discredited. Therefore, the data is also not reliable. 

Such a harsh conclusion also makes the quality of previous measurements problematic. 

Incorrect data can distort the true ratio between advertisers’ costs and the revenue generated by them. They do not allow for building an accurate business plan based on investments and the result of advertising. Eventually, the ratings of TV programs are placed in doubt. 

And the most important thing is that in the advertising market, it becomes impossible to talk about fair competition. 

Media House Armenia disseminated this document and called on all companies involved in television advertising to draw conclusions from all this. 

It is difficult to say what the consequences will be. Monopolies can be broken, but another monopoly can be created instead. “Media House Armenia,” which now works with Public and “Shant” TV companies, also reported that it has applied to the National Assembly and is waiting for discussions for a legal settlement. 

“Admosphere Armenia” responded to the results of the audit and, responding to perhaps the most serious accusation (about discredited households), admitted that there was an information leak. But it did not connect it with a trend or negligence, but with the “theft” of documents. 

And now the company is going to store all the information about households only in the virtual space, giving up printed versions. 

It also claimed that 41 discredited houses had been removed from the panel, and 24 had already been replaced. And in general, it is ready to follow the international rules more strictly from now on. 

Nune Hakhverdyan 

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