As part of a series of closed-door roundtables at Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai, Lintas Media Group and Pinstorm, in association with IAMAI, on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, hosted a closed-door roundtable in Mumbai on ‘Marketing through the Recession: Is pay-for-performance advertising the silver bullet?’
The panelists included Lynn de Souza, Chairman and CEO, Lintas Media; Pradeep Shrivastava, CMO, Idea Cellular; Rajiv Prabhakar, Vice President- Retail Business, Sharekhan; Aekta Shyam, General Manager - Online Marketing and Technology, Taj; and Debadutta Upadhyaya, National Sales Head, Yahoo! India. The session was moderated by Mahesh Murthy, Founder and CEO, Pinstorm.
Commencing the discussion, Shrivastava of Idea Cellular said, “There is a bit of nervousness in every section of the industry today, wondering whether the slowdown will last for a year or less than a year, or will the economic slowdown get more severe. The truth, however, is that nobody really knows how deep this is going to be, and rightfully it is prudent to be extra careful these days. Despite the economic slowdown, we are seeing a massive growth in the telecom industry. We are now rolling out in new circles.”
He further said, “Today, consumers are asking for more by paying less, irrespective of our desire for profits. We believe it is a good time to invest in this medium because money is scarce and the medium is cost effective. There is a certain amount of measurement, multiple choices and the ability to even reach out to a very focused audience, especially when the times are tough and the competition is forcing you to be more aggressive.”
Sharekhan’s Prabhakar opined, “We have always lived with times when we had small budgets, therefore, this time also it’s nothing new. We have very clear budgets for our Pay for Performance and it truly helps one deliver at a good cost.”
Upadhyaya of Yahoo! India noted, “The definition of pay for performance has boiled down to how many leads you can deliver, and that should change. The situation today is more about leads and clicks, because the more obvious ones have not taken that big a leap.”
Taj’s Shyam observed, “These are tough times and every penny counts. There is more scrutiny to every penny spent and every marketing person is quite conscious about this. Taj primarily focused on print and television and till 2000, it did not even have a proper website, however, over a period of time, Internet has become a significant revenue generator for us. We are also planning to go mobile soon. We follow our customers wherever they go and even if they are into social networking sites, we would also like to be there for them.”
Lynn de Souza pointed out, “We are sitting on a medium that is growing fast, however its reach is still one-tenth. In fact, both radio and digital compile the same advertising share. The truth of the matter is that we have metrics in place, but the ironic part is that it may not be accurate. We certainly want the digital medium to grow, but again, we do not know the target group. In the case of print or television, there is brand awareness in this medium, but in digital it could be anything. Pay for Performance will only create more accountability and since the society is also becoming more accountable we too need to get accountable.”
Concluding the session, Pinstorm’s Murthy said, “Digital is a measurable medium and is larger than we can imagine, therefore, it is no longer a niche medium, but is becoming a mass medium. Take for instance, the social networking sites, which became one reason behind a successful anti-terror campaign.”
Making the session more interactive, the floor was then opened to the audience who participated in the heated roundtable discussion during the Q and A session, which also showed that buyers are looking at pay for performance.