Despite all the dooms day talks, marketers are increasingly realizing the potential it offers as a medium. Supporting that is a growth in the number of media specialist. Initiative Media has gone aggressive on the medium with launch of specialist net division - Digital Initiatives.
Recently Initiative Media, one of India''s largest Media Planning and Buying agencies has set up a ''pure'' Internet consultancy division christened -''Digital Initiatives''. Digital Initiatives has started by offering advertising solutions to Initiative Media clients and intends to move into the areas of research and technology in the immediate future.
Says S Yesudas, Vice President, Initiative Media, Mumbai, "We chose to diversify into allied areas in order to become one stop media solution provider. By virtue of being part of Initiative Media business, we have the existing client base. But once the division gains momentum within the next couple of months, we will go out and aggressively pitch for new business. Today, we have a credible client base which includes ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Idea Cellular (earlier Birla Tata AT&T), LG, Intelligent Investor, ITC, Shaw Wallace among others and we have already executed some big innovations on the medium."
The Internet advertising market today is estimated to be worth around Rs. 30 crore. Digital Initiatives claims to already enjoy a share of about 20% of this growing pie.
The presence of other Internet media specialists like Starcom Digital and Media Turf also prove that all''s not so bad with the net as a medium. More are waiting in the wings for market to move towards some maturity.
Says Yesudas, "Obviously, the idea is not to make on day one. The medium has a lot of potential maybe two years from now. Players having some edge and in-depth understanding of the medium will only survive in the long run."
While most large agency have a ''net specialist'' division, only a few are aggressive in the space. They point at limited over all interest and low values as key deterrents. In tight market, how many will survive? "In my opinion not more than 1 or at best 2, besides Digital Initiatives!" says a confident Yesudas.
Airing a different view Madan Sanglikar, Manager Starcom Digital, the Internet specialist arm of Starcom India says, "The medium is growing and more such set-ups are coming into being with more experience which augurs well for the industry. In fact the industry needs more specialists and more the players the better the quality of work and recognition will be". Starcom Digital handles, ICICI Home Loans and all other brands of Leo Burnett and Ambience.
How does Digital Initiative and other ''agency-affiliates'' view independent Internet firms like Intercept and Mediaturf? Most opine that role of an ''Internet agency'' is different from ''a deal aggregator.'' Says Yesudas, "What you are referring to is the network space, where there are a couple of players, who in turn have tied up with five or six different sites. These players have a limitation. It is not just about deal making. Consumer and brand understandings are the key. What we provide our clients is unbiased recommendation. Infact, we enjoy brilliant working relationships with the networks like Mediaturf and Intercept."