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Anil Mishra

CEO | 24 Nov 2008

Advertisers should be educated with all technical features and benefits Internet advertising offers. Brands are still shying from the Internet largely due to lack of knowledge amongst advertisers with respect to benefits of Internet advertising, even the conventional agencies, barring a few leading media buying agencies, are not investing enough in the resources required to educate clients about the potential of Internet platform. They don’t want to invest time and money in people as return (billing) is still very small compared to traditional media. The small size of the Internet population is another turn off for big FMCG brands.

Anil Mishra, CEO, Integrid Media, is a first generation repeat entrepreneur. He had successfully set up an independent media sales outfit named Pearl Media in January 2004. Pearl Media went on to attain the No. 1 position in the independent media sales company sector within 18 months of its launch, clocking a turnover of Rs 75 crore.

Mishra’s last assignment was with integrated media company UTV as Chief Operating Officer for its Sales & Syndication Business. Under his leadership, this business became the single largest contributor to UTV’s top line and bottom line (40 per cent of the top line and 80 per cent of the bottom line). The business grew 100 per cent y-o-y in terms of revenues and more than 100 per cent in terms of realisations. He was stated to be the most successful ‘Business Leader’ of UTV.

At Integrid Media, Mishra has led the company to the Rs 40-crore revenue mark in the first year of operations. Integrid Media is believed to be the only Indian greenfield media venture to have attracted private equity investment in India. It received $10 million private equity investment from Peepul Advisors LLC. Mishra is also leading the expansion of the verticals – Ad Sales, OOH, Digital Media and Activation.

A big believer in digital media, Mishra has kept the focus of Integrid Media on the Internet and digital media with a long list of clients. Integrid Media is also investing significantly on human resources in the digital media domain.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha, Mishra discusses the various initiatives and aspects of one of the most exciting segments of advertising in the present scenario.

Q. What does Integrid Media offer in the space of Internet advertising?

We offer both sales and service solutions in the digital space. We design and execute effective online campaigns for our advertisers across various channels of display and search. We also monetise online inventory for various publishers – both in an exclusive representation format and in an ad network format. We exclusively represent publishers like Jet Airways, Jet Lite, Sita Gita, etc., for ad sales on their sites. We also represent Ybrant’s ad network, MediosOne, exclusively for the Indian market.

Q. What are your plans for the Internet advertising industry in India?

We are currently working on three aspects of the digital industry – service, sales and content creation – and we intend to continue aggressively strengthening our positions in all the three segments. Our service team is extensively working with clients in providing solutions to them and to use effectively the power of online medium. We intend to expand our solutions team on a pan India basis in order to cover and convert more advertisers on the medium. Our sales team is focused on getting maximum value of online inventory that we represent. We already have a strong ad-sales team representing both publishers and ad-network and we are looking to strengthening it further. We are also working on creating our own content destinations, we have already launched www.yqworld.com as our first such endeavour, a portal catering to career needs of young India. We have identified few more verticals and we would either launch our own sites or acquire few existing ones in those segments.

Q. Please tell us more about Yqworld.com.

YQworld is our first endeavour in the space of publishing content. The portal offers useful information to students and helps in taking informed decisions in their career choices. We are getting very good response from our target audience and we already have more than 20,000 registered members on YQworld within one month of the launch, the numbers are growing rapidly on a daily basis. The site has a counseling corner and we are already getting almost 1,000 queries in a week. We are also in the process of adding more modules and features for the students so that they can use the site effectively.

Q. What are the different types/varieties of Internet ads used at present?

Advertisers are using various formats ranging from traditional banner and text ads (especially for Search Engine Marketing) to pop-up ads, pop-under ads, video ads, floating ads, cursor ads and other new rich media and HTML innovations to reach the target audience.

Q. What is the profile of the advertisers that are interested in online advertising?

Banking and financial is the most active category in Internet space, however, other categories like travel, auto, online services and telecom have also started using the Internet platform more often. The banking and financial segment, along with Internet players, account for around 60 per cent of the Indian advertising market. Most of the active advertisers are using the platform for performance campaigns, however, we see a shift there in terms of clients now looking at doing branding campaigns by exploiting interactive features of the medium through engagements, innovations, etc.

We also see new categories getting active like apparel, education institutes, FMCG companies, etc. The Internet medium by its very nature reaches out to young, educated and progressive class of the Indian population, and with its unique intrinsic characteristics, it offers a strong case for more advertisers to use the medium, I am sure going forward more brands would realise the potential of this medium and would start advertising using online media.

Q. How different is it creating an ad for the Internet?

Creating an ad for the Internet is both challenging and different from creating one for traditional media. Different because, Internet as a platform offers measurability, interactivity, targeting and control, so, one can use these features and design different communication for different people on the Internet, which is difficult to achieve in traditional media.

Creating an effective ad is challenging in every platform, more so on the Internet. Internet ads are largely response ads, where users are enticed to take action real time which is not the case in traditional media. Designing such compelling ads becomes even more challenging with scarcity of good creative talent in the Internet space, since it is still a small part of overall advertising industry. We presume with the industry coming of age, more and more people will join in and soon we will have access to a large talent pool in the creative department.

Q. Do Internet ads have to be thought out differently? If so, how and why?

Yes, they need to be thought out differently to be able to use the possibilities the medium provides. Advertising on the Internet should be targeted, timed, relevant and contextual, not only because the medium offers such possibilities, but also as this reduces intrusion and increases effectiveness. Internet ads are largely response ads and often calls for real time action from the users, ads should be designed in a way so that they don’t result in irritating user’s experience. They should follow the right audience, right timing and right context philosophy of advertising.

Q. What is the difference between the costs and also returns of advertising online as opposed to advertising on television or print?

Internet offers a unique proposition of pay per performance unlike other platforms, which not only makes this medium effective for advertising, but also reduces the cost of sales/ advertising. Also, advertising to relevant people and at the right time not only increases the effectiveness of the medium, but also minimises the wastage with respect to advertising money. Unlike television and print, there are no spillages. The advertising is far more contextual and desired rather than forced. For example, it has been successfully proven that the cost of lead generation for financial products, like say credit cards, is much more cost effective using on line methods as compared to off line methods.

ROI is the probably the most important and compelling feature of this medium as no other medium can offer measurement as accurately as this medium can.

However, ROI does not always mean how many impressions served or clicks registered or leads captured in relation to the money spent, it also means returns in terms of having been able to interact with end users, to be able to ‘talk’ to them, to be able to provide a completely different ‘brand experience’, which is not possible in any other medium.

When advertisers will realise Internet’s true potential and be able to use all the positive features the medium can offer and take advantage of that, the medium will surely become a medium of choice.

Q. Typically, what is the percentage of the ad budget allocated for digital campaigns?

For evolved clients with respect to online medium, the percentage would be higher as they have experienced and realised the potential of the medium and would allocate more budgets on the online platform, but the overall percentage is very low and is currently around 2 per cent of the overall ad spends.

Q. In the current context, what is the role of Internet ads in the media plan? And what are the efficiencies can it lend to the media mix?

Internet medium is being used in different ways, depending on the campaign objectives, right from creating brand awareness to lead generation. Advertisers can leverage intrinsic qualities that are unique to this medium with respect to targeting capabilities, contextual capabilities, and measurement capabilities etc., in order to improve efficiencies.

Q. What is the trend and prospect of advertising on blogs?

Blogs offer a more personal environment and can be used for advertising, however, brands should be careful while advertising on blogs, as it offers an opportunity to ‘talk’ to the end users. The channel, if used, should be taken seriously and should not be used just for advertising. A proper participation, monitoring and dialogue is important to do an effective campaign on blogs.

Q. What are the impediments in the segments?

Internet advertising is still evolving, both in terms of formats and also with respect to acceptability as an effective medium to communicate. FMCG and white goods have still not taken to the Internet. The way Internet is used to communicate is also evolving.

Advertisers should be educated with all technical features and benefits Internet advertising offers. Brands are still shying from the Internet largely due to lack of knowledge amongst advertisers with respect to benefits of Internet advertising, even the conventional agencies, barring a few leading media buying agencies, are not investing enough in the resources required to educate clients about the potential of Internet platform. They don’t want to invest time and money in people as return (billing) is still very small compared to traditional media. The small size of the Internet population is another turn off for big FMCG brands.

The manner in which the medium is sold is also very important as people tend to highlight only certain features that the medium can offer, and that probably becomes the only reason for advertisers to use digital platform.

While an ROI in terms of clicks and leads can be effective tool to ‘sell’ the medium to a non-active advertiser, that should not be projected as the only highlight of the medium. As agencies, we all should be able to deliver more effective branding campaigns and not just the performance campaigns.

A lot of missionary work is yet to be done to implant knowledge and faith in Internet advertising.

Q. Where do you see Internet advertising headed in the next couple of years?

Advertising on the Internet is already growing at a rapid pace, increase in the number of PCs, Internet penetration, usage, broadband, etc., will only help it grow faster. Brands will definitely take advantage of unique propositions the platform has to offer and we should see not only more and more brands coming on to the medium, but also rapid increase in their budgets for online advertising.

In coming years, we are sure Internet will be one of the key platforms for advertising; both agencies and clients will surely give Internet its due importance.

Q. Global Internet advertising network provider MediosOne, part of the Ybrant family, has also entered into a strategic alliance with Integrid Media. The alliance will place Integrid Media as the exclusive representative of MediosOne in India. What is the alliance all about?

MediosOne is a leading online advertising network and we represent them exclusively in the Indian market. We gain from their extensive knowledge, premium inventory and proprietary tools to effectively deliver results on online campaigns for our advertisers.

Q. How has your journey been at Integrid Media?

The journey so far has been really exciting. In a short span of less than two years we have successfully launched four independent divisions competing aggressively in their respective fields. We are currently active in OOH, TV ad sales, events and activation, and, of course, Internet advertising. We have offices in nine cities across India, and are catering to a wide array of clients (over 100) across diverse categories, both national and regional.

With the media industry being looked upon as one of fastest growing sectors in the country, we are certain that we will continue to grow aggressively in the years to come in each of our business verticals.

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