Pitch magazine and Madison Media joined hands for a special session on ‘The Road Ahead for Indian Media’ in times of tough economic conditions. The session was held in Mumbai on February 20 and sought ways to manage toplines and bottomlines more efficiently. The special session was a follow-up to the Pitch-Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2009, released in January 2009.
The Pitch-Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2009 makes a grim forecast for the year ahead, wherein as compared to a healthy growth rate of 17 per cent in 2008, the year 2009 would see only a 2 per cent growth in ad expenditure.
The session addressed some pertinent questions that the findings from the study raised – if the industry will see no growth in ad spends, how should Indian media get ready; what does it take for the Indian media industry to survive and grow in these times of slowdown; and what are the opportunities in these times of adversities, etc.
The session was divided into two panels – ‘Managing the Topline’, which focussed on how Indian media owners can increase revenues in today’s scenario, and ‘Managing the Bottomline’, where the panel spoke on how Indian media owners can manage their costs so as to maintain sanity in today’s economic scenario.
‘Managing the Topline’ session was moderated by Sam Balsara, Chairman & Managing Director, Madison World, while the speakers included ZEEL’s Joy Chakraborty, Lokmat’s Jwalant Swaroop, Selvel Outdoor Advertsing’s Noomi Mehta, BCCL’s Bhaskar Das, NDTV Media’s Raj Nayak, and P&G’s Sumeet Vohra.
At the outset, Balsara raised some important questions on the new strategies currently on the drawing board that media companies would or should roll out in the coming months to ensure that the topline grows. He also asked whether the slowdown would change the inter media dynamics.
Bhaskar Das admitted, “Yes, there is no money in the market today, and we being part of the system, the current situation is affecting all of us. There is no doubt, these are tough times.”
Expressing his views on strategies, Das explained, “Instead of getting worried about the storm, one needs to know how to enjoy and dance in the rains. These are challenging times hence, one has to discipline themselves. We need to prioritise ourselves and hence, re-prioritisation is the key to the problems.”
NDTV Media’s Nayak pointed out, “We need to have bailouts for television. According to me, print and television as an advertiser medium need to collaborate to compete. In the meanwhile, as an industry, all these years we have been facing the problem of talent crunch. So, now is not the time for lay-offs, but creating talent loyalty amongst our companies.”
On similar lines, ZEEL’s Chakraborty said, “During this phase, all broadcasters have to come together, However, television as a medium of communication business has always be a victim of low prices. We are the victims of research, but have never been paid our dues. I strongly believe that if a broadcaster has a strong revenue head, it will get good revenues.”
According to Lokmat’s Swaroop, “Like everybody, even the regional print space is witnessing a slowdown, but the slowdown is more from the metro regions’ perspective compared to the other regions of Maharashtra. Hence, it is very important that we as a regional player get over the unorganised way of advertising in the regions.”
Selvel’s Mehta noted, “January and February have definitely been bad for outdoor advertisers, and as for me, March, too, shall be disastrous. Prior to the slowdown, money was being pumped in, but when the markets crashed, there were no sales happening. The situation in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai has been adversely affected. Hence, I feel now is the time to target the small and medium sized hoardings.”
Radio Mirchi CEO Prashant Panday stressed, “We need to accept that radio was sold wrongly. It is time to go back to the basic. But at the same, we need to convert the current situation to our fullest advantage. We shall now take radio as terrestrial radio. And if advertisers want us to communicate the brand in 25 different creatives as per the regions, we are ready to do so, but at our cost.”
According to P&G’s Vohra, “One needs to keep the domestic consumption rate in mind. As per the study, the FMCG sector seems very good, but there have been certain markets where we have seen a downturn. We need to keep a watch on costs and keep in mind that the consumer valuation equation does not dip. This would be the biggest challenge.”
Pitch-Madison Media Advertising Outlook projects a growth of only 2 pc in 2009