The Internet is often seen as a niche tool, print and television are still seen as the true mass mediums. However, Savio Fernandes, Senior VP and Chief Sales Officer Rediff is of the opposite opinion. He said, “This is an absolute myth. The Internet is measured on performance, which is not the true worth of a medium. According to data from TAM and from the IAMAI, in urban India in SEC AB 15-44. age group, the reach of Internet is as high as television – both have an audience of approximately 40 million each. This is even higher in specific demographics and genres.” He is bullish about growth and said, “We compared the first ten years of print, television and the internet, and what we see is 20x growth online versus 8x for TV and 4x for print. Clearly, the Internet as a medium is going to catch up, and in some countries, already has.”
If the internet is a cost effective tool which allows for a varied interaction with users at scale, why hasn’t it seen the same spends on advertising yet? This is a question that people like Fernandes have been struggling with.
Part of the problem is that the digital media industry is looking inwards, when the focus needs to turn outwards. Fernandes argued, “Competition isn't another portal, but TV and print. Build the product, build the platform. The numbers have reached a critical stage, and will now grow even more rapidly.”
Another problem is that digital is still in a silo, considered separate from the overall media plan. Fernandes said, “When a media planner looks at TV and internet, he knows what’s happening there. But the guy who knows digital is usually not the man in charge. We have seen a growing acceptance of digital, and in a few years that same media planner will also start planning internet spends, not the digital agency. The idea that you need a separate digital arm of an agency is on the way out.”
Rediff has worked with top clients like Coca Cola, Dell and Volkswagen. However, according to Fernandes, until around four years ago, most of their interactions were with brands, and not agencies. He said, “It used to be that 80 per cent of our ads came from clients, and 20 per cent from agencies. Today, we have not only grown the number of brands we work with – we’ve also improved our relations with agencies, so that 75 per cent of our advertisements come from the agencies.”
At the same time, Fernandes is not so optimistic about the increase in ad rates on digital as he is on overall growth. He said, “As a publisher we would love to establish the highest price. But unfortunately, advertisers want to transfer the risk to publishers, through measures like CPC and CPL, as opposed to a fairer metric like CPM. Just because I did not buy a product after looking at your ad does not mean it was wasted on me. Tomorrow I might buy it in the store, because of an ad I saw before I left home. But that’s not attributed to the online ad. That’s something we need to innovate a methodology of measurement for.”