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Others Audience saturation and the media modus operandi

Audience saturation and the media modus operandi

Author | Anushree Madan Mohan | Tuesday, May 25,2004 7:51 AM

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Audience saturation and the media modus operandi

The Morals of Medical Science assert that any commodity, when taken in excess, has to potential to cause considerable harm, be it as irrelevant or pint sized as common salt. In much the same vein, the rules of brand science assert that an overdose of advertising can potentially harm the brand in the long run, leading to a severe case of audience fatigue and regression. In the entire gamut of advertising, huge spends on the part of potentially large business entities such as Bharti, HLL and Reliance are scrutinized with much awe and fascination, but the question ideally remains the same- How much is too much?

Media folks have been known to get excited about ‘big spends’, but do they necessarily halt the client when the attempts at advertising are going beyond the required momentum? With the possibility of a saturation in audiences looming large in the horizon, do media agencies contemplate over the same when they go about an enhanced media plan, complete with enhanced spends?

Says Madan Mohapatra, Media Director (Television Buying), The Media Edge, “ The job before any media agency is to ensure the optimum utilization of existent budgets in terms of efficiencies in buying and selling. It’s not really our place to inform the client, on how much, he ought to be advertising. Certain recommendations of the sort come from the research agency that’s employed by the client. Through the research agency, the client can determine the effectiveness of a particular creative, or whether it’s turning out to be an overdose of sorts. He can then arrange his priorities accordingly.”

Mohapatra adds, “Media agencies try and work their way around fatigue through non traditional attempts at reaching audiences. But fatigue, is best sensed by the client, as he can directly co relate it to an increase or a dip in sales. A good creative turns into a blind spot over considerable period of time while a bad creative tends to show its ill effects almost immediately. Research agencies can track the fatigue amongst audiences and advise the client on the same, the client then adjusts his spends accordingly or goes in for a fresh creative.”

Manas Mishra, Associate Vice President, Initiative agrees whole heartedly with Mohapatra. Mishra states earnestly, “Honestly, you just can’t tell the client to halt his spends just because, you have started imagining a certain amount of fatigue amongst audiences. In any case, the crux of the problem in India is reaching out to audiences (building reach and frequency), rather than a situation of ‘saturation’ or ‘wastage.’ Unless, you are talking about a handful of advertisers like HLL who communicate extensively, the question of saturation is almost non existent.”

Sandip Tarkas, CEO, Media Direction carries an opinion, which is completely at loggerheads with the rest. Tarkas asserts, “Of course, it is the media agency’s responsibility to advise the client against a possible overdose in spends. Agencies that don’t communicate the same to the client are doing a grave injustice to the task that’s been allotted to them. But again, it borders down to the remuneration model that’s being followed. Is it a fee based system that the media agency is following or a commission based system? If your agency is benefiting from increased expenditure on the part of the client, naturally you wouldn’t advise the client against it.”

Speaking about the subject, would bring us to the much worn out term ‘optimal frequency.’ The term ‘optimal frequency’ refers to the ideal impression level for a given campaign. On paper, media entities ideally ought to work against overexposing an audience or underexposing the audience, both of which result in a wastage of resources. But how do you draw a fine line between both? And even if the fine line is clear enough to the media agency, would it inform the client about it?

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