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Online advertising calls for agency supports

15-April-2004
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Online advertising calls for agency supports

With as much as seven to nine per cent of all advertising budgets expected to move online by 2007, Internet seems to be all set to enter a media planner’s must-have list. This observation was made at the recently held exchange4media iZone Roundtable in Bangalore, where the panellists discussed on the role agencies in India were playing to promote the medium.

Kicking off a round of debate, Abraham Mathew, President, CIOL, in the role of the session’s moderator, said that despite the medium’s increasing reach, cost effectiveness and measurability, Internet is still in an extended nascent stage in India. “Are agencies investing too little in the medium to facilitate its growth?” he questioned.

Responding to him, Rajesh Vimal, Director, M One, said: “Yes, during the boom time and a couple of years after, agencies did not give much importance to the medium. The rationale behind this was that among other things, there was over promise and an excessive presence of jargons. On the whole, there was just too much of complication for the average planner to include Internet in his plan.”

He added that even as the measurability of the medium was welcomed by agencies, the factor to an extent had reduced the creative side of advertising on Internet. Quoting the example of FM radio, which emerged around the same time with Internet as a medium, Vimal said that it was easier to convince a client about the former with the help of creatives than the latter because of the strong association between the Net and measurability.

According to John Kuruvilla, Chief Revenue Officer and Head Commercial, agencies have not made the required investments in understanding a new media like Internet. “When working on a brochure for Internet, the general attitude is to go ahead and digitise an existing brochure instead of investing in a special team,” he illustrated with an example.

N Murlidharan, MD, Jobstreet.com, observed that the lack of investments in understanding the medium could be a direct result of the small returns that the business on Internet offers an agency. “Since the cost of advertising on Internet is in itself so low, revenues earned by the agency at the end of the day might dissuade it from making the required investments,” he said.

He added that the lack of interest shown by larger agencies had led to a number of smaller specialist units mushrooming across the country. “The kind of service offered by these specialist agencies is proving to be of a much higher quality than what one would get from a larger full-service agency,” he noted.

Highlighting the difference between a creative and a media agency, Vimal said that while all major media agencies today have created a division purely dedicated to Internet, creative agencies are yet to offer that specialisation.

To this, Mathew responded saying that while such a specialisation was needed to boost the interests of Internet as a fit medium, such kind of compartmentalisation would lead to its extended nascent stage. “Our quest should be to leave behind the specialist tag and integrate Internet with other mainstream media,” he said.

The panel, however, emphasised on the huge potential that Internet as a medium holds. The speakers observed that the $10-billion business that’s generated from Internet was poised to touch $15-17 billion by 2007. And, the responsibility to develop Internet into a successful advertising medium should jointly be shared by agencies and clients.

Watch this space for more dimensions from the Bangalore session of the exchange4media iZone Roundtable.

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