The Nielsen-TAM Annual Conference saw sister agency TAM Media Research also participate this year, and the two presented various new areas that are silently creeping into the lives of advertisers and making all the difference when noticed. Given that this was a client conference, the two bodies also presented on the various tools available with them that allowed more information on these areas -- sports sponsorship management and PR management -- that could help brands in making the right decisions.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the day was the power-packed panel that attempted to give these research agencies a report card on their contribution to the Indian industry.
This panel was chaired by Sam Balsara, Chairman, Madison World. The members on the panel were Venkatesh Kini, Marketing Head, Coca-Cola India; Hemant Mallik, Marketing Head, ITC; Sanjeev Agarwal, Executive Director, Carbon; Tarun Mehra, Marketing Head, Zee TV, and Jagdish Kini of Enterprise 5 C.
Balsara probed the panellists to speak on research and the role that it has played for them. Venkatesh Kini started off by stating that not all big decisions were based on research. Pointing the example of the launch of New Coke in the US, he elaborated that there were clear instances where research failed the product. At the same time, he confessed that Coca-Cola India utilised research exhaustively. He said, “It is really about how we choose to use research. We have to go with gut feel.”
The panellists were of the opinion that a problem research may be facing today is that if organisations didn’t agree with it, they chose not to adhere by it, and attributing this to a gut feel. Mallik brought forth the example of ITC’s latest product Bingo where the ad test failed the advertising around the product and the company still decided to go ahead with the campaign.
At the same time, he cited examples where research helped the client in differentiating their approach to consumers in different markets, and the results were positive. He said, “However, I think there should be clarity in research. You should know what you want and not just add questions to research interviews unnecessarily.”
Agarwal spoke of his varied experiences with different companies, where on the one hand, no decision was made without the backing of research like at Cadbury, and on the other hand, nothing was done on the basis of research. Nonetheless, presenting his point of view, he said, “You should treat research agency like you would treat your doctor or lawyer -- until you tell them clearly every thing about yourself and what you want, you will not get what you are looking for or can help you.”
Zee TV’s Mehra presented another picture here when he said that where the consumer today has changed completely with attention spans reducing to second, research techniques have not changed. He added, “Today, we are not in a great position to know what the consumer wants and where we are creating these touch points to connect with the consumer; we really are not laying enough emphasis towards driving engagement.” He said that research is only an indicator of the direction and not the direction itself.
For Jagdish Kini, interpretation of research was important. He also pointed out, “Advertisers today are doing enough, and more research is being done on what should be launched and what can be called as pre-launch research. However, what is really important is the post-launch and to know whether the consumer is satisfied or not.”
He stated that research is about “keeping you eyes and ears open -- just listen to the end consumer”.
The panel had much to answer from the audiences as well, many of who believed that research in India had too many lacunae in the present state, and that advertisers tend to be selective on when they chose to strictly go by research and when to allow deviation, depending on whatever worked in their favour.
Some on Sports and some on Negative News
At a time when advertisers have shown some disappointment on cricket advertising and sponsorships, TAM Media Research shared the insights of a study done on the ICC Champions Trophy to ascertain how non-standard forms of brand exposure performed for brands. Some of the examples here are on-ground painting, player’s kits, in-stadia and pop-ups. Explaining more on the methodology undertaken for this paper, Pradeep Hejmadi, Vice President, TAM Media Research, explained that a combination of diary method and day-after-recall was undertaken to understand what platform delivered the highest for brands. The opportunity to see in the study was calculated as the product of number of brands and number on on-air insertions.
On this basis, the study showed that top five brands dominated 78 per cent of non-TVC exposure and top eight brands had 82 per cent visibility. On-ground had 76 per cent viewing, while on-screen had only 16 per cent. It was also seen that of these top eight brands, the effectiveness of non-TVC advertising was largely seen in on-ground and on-screen. Brand recall was dominated by top five brands.
Hejmadi summarised that in the various platforms that are available for in-stadia, the highest delivery comes from the perimeters on the field, while the second best was on-ground paintings. Pop-ups really got lost and that team apparel was five times more effective than pop-ups. Hejmadi concluded, “The static presence that we see in non-TVC exposure only reinforces brand presence. We are not insinuating that TVCs are not important for brands.”
Taking up from him, the next presentation was by Siddhartha Mukherjee, VP, Communications, TAM Media Research and VP, Eikona PR Track, who took the audience through the role that PR data played for brand image management. He spoke on various aspects of negative news, like the fact that they were more attention grabbing than positive news, and that they tend to be more diagnostic. In the process, he spoke of the service Eikona and the role that it played in delving deeper into publicity around a brand and the result on the product thereof.
Sharing the results of a pilot study that Eikona had undertaken, he explained that sectors like financial products tend to be more impacted by negative news, followed by beverages and other sectors like swami scams, given the proximity of the brand and service to the user.
He explained that the key driver of negative news really was the respondent’s familiarity with the brand, and that the stronger the attitude of a respondent was towards the brand, the more resistant he was to negative news. Keeping this in mind, it really is commitment that has to be gauged to comprehend the impact of negative news on consumers and implication thereof on brands.
He took the audience through the role that the medium carrying negative news had on the news, and based on this, in the light of brand disposition, presented four scenarios -- Highly Volatile, Neutral Zone, Ideal Zone and Less Volatile. He explained that for any brand, the best place to be in was the Ideal Zone, as negative news in that scenario had the least impact on the brand and could even lead to a situation where the respondent would question the credibility of the medium itself or even counter argue the news.
He also spoke on the need for authentication of news -- both negative and positive -- and that some routes to this were editorial and advertorials. Mukherjee informed that the current situation is such where the effects of negative news can be negated with the right course of action. He also divulged that a common measurement index could be created for brands to guide a route for image management, and that TAM, along with PRCAI, was in the process of working on such a template.