We live in a connected and borderless world. All brands are working on innovative contributions that complement business strategies, and help grow the scope of the business. All media platforms are striving to take competitive lead by using creative technological tools.
The growing needs of brands, and the market, are redefining the role of media in a borderless world. At the Advertising Club’s popular annual event, Media Review 2014, CVL Srinivas, CEO South Asia, GroupM, Rajiv Verma, CEO, HT Media, and Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands gave insights to what this redefinition means in each of their respective businesses.
The Media Agency
Srinivas compared the evolution of man with the evolution of media agency. He said it is in its fifth stage at present.
“The first stage of media evolution happened in the mid 1990s when media buying shops were being set up in India. The next stage came when media planning business moved out of the creative agencies. After which most media agencies started to diversify, setting up allied businesses, be it outdoor or digital, in order to provide what they called, 360-degree solutions,” he said.
“We started off as a little chimp who is standing right in the back, as being the backroom office and I was one of the chimps when I’d joined the industry in the early 90s, following the client servicing guys wherever they went, hoping to get my five minutes to present my 80-odd slides. From then to now, it’s been quite a journey. But where we are today is at a very interesting stage. Whatever changes have happened in the last four to five years have forced media agencies to take on an entirely new avatar,” he stated.
Since the world we live in has all the customers connected and well informed, there is an urgent need for brands to not just stay relevant but also remain meaningful, according to Srinivas.
He sees an opportunity for agencies in this newly connected world. “Today it’s not enough to be a trusted adviser of clients. Agencies can move up the value chain by moving from advising clients to leading clients. In the digital era, a lot of disruption is taking place because of exceedingly available data and technology,” he said.
Talking of new trends in audience planning, Srinivas said, “We have to move from contextual planning to audience planning with the help of data and the digital. Manual processes will give way to automated processes. We also need to build different communities within the organization.”
The Print Media
According to Rajiv Verma, the history of media is divided into three eras, Pre Media, Mass Media and Infinite media. He confessed that all this talk of the ‘cool digital world’ has had him worried about the future of print but since the infinite media we live in is younger than our kids, he still had some hope.
“Infinite media is younger than our kids so it’s not even a blink of an eye in the entire chronologue of media evolution. Therefore it’s just the beginning. And there’s scope for all mediums to coexist,” he said.
“From one half-hour news bulletin in a day to the days of embedded journalism that began with the Iraq war to today’s day and age where the model of reporting has shifted from ‘one to many’ to ‘many to many’, we have come a long way,” he said.
“In a borderless world, media is no longer acting as a filter. It has become more ubiquitous. In the age of digital reporting, before the truth gets known, the virality takes over. The lines between blogs, tweets, photos are blurring; becoming a mish mash of data and information. The war for ad dollars is leading more to noise rather than to news. And the pressure of ad dollars is leading to trivialization of news,” he pointed out.
“While all these disruptive forces are at play, the real question that comes to mind is that print media will have to go back to basics in figuring out its comparative advantages, what is exactly is the audience it’s trying to serve and try to go more hyper local in serving that audience because that’s the only unique characteristic of print media which differentiates it from others,” he said.
The Integrated Media
Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands feels there is a need to integrate, not just ideas and processes, but to integrate, mindsets, culture and philosophies, in order to remain relevant. He emphasized on the need to embrace the new consumer. “Consumer wants to be the protagonist, he/she wants to be at the center of communication. He/she doesn’t want to be bored with information. Just tell them how it impacts them and how can they participate. So there’s a need for consumers to be constantly engaged and constantly touched,” he said.
“What’s important in today’s ever-changing media environment is the need to tell a powerful story. The success of any model depends on the story and its storyteller. You have to play it together to tell a story. We have to manage the present and as we manage the present, the stories will evolve for us to reinvent the future. And keep your stories simple,” he added.