Exit polls loss-making venture: Axis My India chief

New Delhi: Exit polls is a loss-making business and the only profit a pollster earns is visibility, Axis My India chief Pradeep Gupta has said.

Gupta was considered to be the poster boy of exit polls till June 4, when the Lok Sabha poll results dealt a hammer blow to the reputation of pollsters after their predictions proved to be wide off the mark.

“Exit polls are a loss-making venture because no media house will pay as much money as that invested on the ground … the only profit that we make in exit polls is that we get visibility which we do not get while doing market research for corporate clients,” he said.

In an interaction with PTI editors at the agency’s headquarters, Gupta said 70 per cent of his clientele is corporate clients and that is where the main revenue comes from.

Gupta said, “Besides the other investments we make on ground … every surveyor gets Rs 500 for a hitting the bull’s eye (for an accurate prediction) and we covered 3,605 assembly constituencies (in this election). There are other incentives too depending upon the accuracy of prediction.”

“So, if all would have gone right, this money would have gone but its (company’s) brand equity would have been high … though it seems as a loss monetarily but its profit in terms of visibility,” he said.

Gupta said his company will go for a stock market listing once its other businesses, which are currently in the pipeline, turn profitable.

Born in Waraseoni, a village in Madhya Pradesh’s Balaghat, Gupta after working with the Thomson Press in Delhi moved to Mumbai in 1993 to work with an advertising agency.

“I was the first to use utility bills for advertising and the idea proved to be very profitable back then,” Gupta, 55, said.

He later went to the Harvard Business School and after returning to India, he began his career as pollster in 2013. Out of 65 elections, Gupta said, he accurately predicted 60.

Gupta, became the centre of a controversy when the opposition alleged that he deliberately predicted a clean sweep for the BJP to manipulate the stock market, which hit a record high after the exit polls were announced and crashed on the day of counting, June 4.

For the 2024 elections, Axis My India predicted 361-401 seats for the BJP-led alliance and 131-166 seats for the opposition INDIA bloc in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

“Out of 64 crore voters, we spoke to 5.82 lakh voters, which is a representational sample size. We covered 3,607 assembly constituencies, over 22,000 villages. Our on-ground interviews are monitored by a team, there is no possibility of any manipulation or bias,” he said.

Asked about whether Axis My India will go for a stock market listing as being planned earlier, Gupta said,” We are working on few products which are ready to be rolled out. Once they are successful, we will go for a stock market listing”.