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Fragmentation is not all bad

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Fragmentation is not all bad

The Indian media brigade is burgeoning everyday. With every new media vehicle venturing in the scene, be it a news channel, a broadsheet or a radio station, the options for media planners, clients and advertiser are increasing and so is the mechanics related with too many options. Doesn't this indicate a Media Fragmentation?

The current exploding media environment has made it possible to reach select TGs through a Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahon Thi or a news channel. Even a few years back the advertiser did not have many options. He had a handful of choices at his disposal to reach out to his TG. This has certainly made his job much easier but not necessarily cheaper, as he was reaching out to a bigger set of viewers or readers, which was not a part of his target audience. In other words, spill over was much higher.

Says Anand Halve, Co-founder, Chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy: "There are two sides to the multi-choice media coin. One is media segmentation, which implies partitioning the existing media options, resulting in a value addition. The other and not so good side is media fragmentation. Bad, because it denotes breaking of the existing options without a value addition."

Further elucidating, he adds: "Segmentation helps in reaching my target audience in a very cost-effective way, with the minimum wastage and spill over. Fragmentation is when I spend more than the required money and effort to reach my TG."

It has indeed become easier to focus on a specific set of people in terms of both demographics and psychographics with burgeoning media options. With the variety of options available, consumers can really pick and choose the audience he or she wants to target. The trio at MPG group, Bombay - Sangeeta Dogra - Investment Manager, Shonima Kaul - Planning Manager and Deepak Netram - Planning Director, endorsing Halve's views, echo: "Media fragmentation has created certain niches which when identified make targeting specific audiences much simpler and cheaper, this ensures you don't pay a premium for a spill over audience which you did not want in the first place."

Hiren Pandit, GM, MindShare Mumbai, goes to the extent of calling it a boon. "Fragmentation is definitely a boon as it helps in better targeting of your desired audience. With the available options in hand, you can choose where to invest your advertiser's bucks to get value for money, high visibility and reach."

Fragmentation has changed the media planning process in a big way. While earlier, most planning was done only on the basis of demographics and cost-per-thousand, now various other factors are kept in mind. It is not about rating points and readership now, but about relevant rating points and relevant readership. MPG Bombay group are of the view: "Of the most significant changes fragmentation has brought about, has been the introduction of non-traditional media like Internet, radio and out-of-home sectors into the consideration of media planners. It also causes media planners to think much harder. Had there been no fragmentation, we would not have to work with concepts like intensity of viewing or passive viewing, which have, in turn led us to consider other media."

Reaching out to the male TG is another area where media fragmentation has helped. As MPG Bombay group elucidates, it is possible today to use niche channels like news, English movies, entertainment channels that cater largely to the male audience. These channels will reach the targeted male audience with minimum spillovers and at the same time are cost effective. Prior to fragmentation, the option to go by would be looking at just one mass TV channel.

However, planners do not believe that fragmentation has no flip side. It has indeed made the task of planner far more complicated. And, with so many similar options available, it becomes very difficult to predict where a larger set of relevant TG would be found - more so in the case of mass products. Shedding light on the drawbacks of media fragmentation, Pandit says: "Such a multi-optional scenario proves to be problematic for mass-based brands. They have a tough time in selecting the media vehicles to ride on. To elucidate, a taxi driver and an executive might fall in a SEC-A bracket, but they will have different lifestyles and viewing habits. The taxi driver might choose a Zee Cinema over a Discovery, whereas the English speaking executive will prefer a Star World to a Zee Cinema."

The trio at MPG Bombay, sounds somewhat in line with Pandit. "If we look at the female audience where the stickiness is much higher, fragmentation does not hold much weight. Four years ago when ZEE TV was a clear leader, the viewership was consolidated with the channel but after the spurt of other new general entertainment and Hindi movie genres and with Star Plus steering the leadership in the category, viewership has seen a shift and has consolidated with it," they observe.

In case of mass entertainment, fragmentation has raised the cost of reaching the TG. Commenting on the cost factor, Halve says, "It is heavier on the pocket in the case of fragmentation, such as the serials being aired on Star and Zee between 9 and 11 pm. There being no marked difference in the content, to reach a TRP of 10, an advertiser will have to participate in three serials, resulting in increased costs. Earlier, there were limited options and hence it was cheaper to reach out to a wider audience.

MPG group points out that it is certainly a more expensive proposition compared to the good old years when DD had a monopoly. One spot on a Hindi Feature Film (HFF) or Chitrahaar and your audiences were covered. Yet today, media fragmentation has also brought about greater sophistication to media measurement over the years.

With more options available to the advertiser and increasing day by day, media fragmentation is definitely enriching the lives of all those involved, for better, or for worst.


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