Value proposition dominated the Advertising Conclave at GoaFest 2008. In the final session of the Conclave focus turned to what should be the role of an industry body in creating value for the advertising industry. Speakers at the session included Pramath Sinha, Managing Director, 9.9 Media; Saurabh Srivastava, past Chairman of Nasscom; Kiran Karnik, former President of Nasscom, who recently joined the Global Advisory Board of IDG Ventures; and Ranjan Kapoor, Country Head, India, WPP.
In his opening statement, Srivastava said, “The IT industry is worth $60 billion today. Back in 1988, software was given free and no value was given to it, we had a much bigger challenge of value addition then than what the ad industry has today, given the current value at 15 per cent.”
Karnik felt that the advertising industry was doing really well and was a critical, but very young industry. “Industry should zoom out and discussions should focus on broader issues,” he added.
Kapoor remarked, “I find there is more of self-flagellation than self-congratulation. There is so much negativity within the advertising industry itself. We don’t look at our business holistically. We don’t know how big the advertising industry is. We figure among the top 15 advertising industries of the world and spend 4 per cent of our GDP as advertising expenditure. China, in comparison, spends just 2 per cent of the GDP as advertising expenditure. We need to tap the potential advertisers, they aren’t spending what they should be. We are more interested in advertisers than the advertising scene as a whole. The word agency itself is more of a Victorian concept, we need to be more exclusive.”
He further said that digital was not advertising. “Digital grew from Rs 70 crore to Rs 700 crore last year alone, but it is not part of the AAAI. In seven years, it seems digital would become larger than us. We need to start having a micro view.”
Talking about the IT industry, Pramath Sinha said that it was very different from the ad industry. “We need to learn from an IT industry body like Nasscom, on how it has grown in strength and how it represents the various issues concerning the IT industry to the Government,” he added.
Srivastava explained that as a industry body it was important to tackle issues of talent. “Nasscom is addressing the problem of talent crunch in the industry by planning to set IT institutes. We have been able to plan ahead and think in wider terms. Creating a company is easy, but creating an industry body is tough. The media for advertising is changing, business models need to be changed as there is a huge paradigm shift in the industry. We should drive the new business models.”
Karnik concluded the session by summing up the key points. “The benchmark of GDP should be completely erased from our minds, as one of the greatest success is to be exclusive. We are exclusive and that’s why the Government is listening to us. Aspirational growth is important and so is long term planning. The ad industry needs to plan long term, just the way Nasscom had set up a concrete 10-year plan for the IT industry.”
“The ad industry needs to be a independent and a strong industry and focus on wider issues. We need to try and pitch issues for an ecosystem that would benefit everyone. We need to increase our visibility and get rid of the monopolies. The ad industry needs to get together and address the Government together. We need to address the issues in the Budget regarding taxes. The ad industry needs to get more aggressive,” was Karnik’s parting shot.