The second session of the Knowledge Series organised by exchange4media in New Delhi on Friday last week witnessed a keen debate on ‘Media planning versus media buying: What is taking precedence?’ At the end of the evening, biggies from the advertising and consumer durables industry concluded that a marriage between the two lines of activity was necessary; they had to co-exist.
The high-powered panel consisted of eminent advertising personalities like Chintamani Rao, President, Integrated Communications, McCann Worldgroup, Gopinath Menon, Vice-President, TBWA India, Ravi Bhatia, General Manager, Marketing, Maruti Udyog, Sandeep Vij, President, OMS, and Sulina Menon, CEO-North & East, Carat India. In the moderator’s chair, there was CVL Srinivas, Managing Director, Maxus.
Kicking off the discussion, Srinivas quoted David Berkley, Head, Carat, North America, who had said that media buying would come first, and followed by media planning. “There are three entities involved in the whole process of media buying and planning, namely, client, advertiser and agency. Many changes have taken place in the field of media buying over the years, and now media as an industry is being looked at more seriously,” he said.
Srinivas informed that before turning up for the panel discussion, he had done a small survey on the subject by asking 16 clients, big and small, to give their opinion on the contribution of media buying and media planning. “Almost 75 per cent of the respondents considered media planning was more important than media buying. However, at the end a client is looking forward to maximum returns for his inputs and both the media planner and media buyers should deliver good services,” he said.
Taking the discussion ahead, Sandeep Vij of OMS said these days markets were open to maneuverability. “In this situation most of the times buyers are unaware about markets and planners often walk away with the cake. The media markets need to be more transparent,” he pointed out.
Presenting an advertiser’s observation, Gopinath Menon of TBWA, said: “In the current scenario, there was either over or under-investment in the markets. It is easy to find faults in the media buying business, but flaws have surfaced even in media planning which need to be tackled. Most of the times we find media planners selling products that are not needed.”
Sulina Menon of Carat observed that the issue of media planning versus media buying was almost like deciding which came first – the egg or the chicken. "But at the end, it’s the client who is most important, and everything should be looked at from his perspective. Both media planning and buying are important and none can precede the other. The two cannot exist in isolation,” she said.
Offering the client’s perspective on the issue, Maruti’s Ravi Bhatia said client seeks value for his money. “It is very important therefore for both planners and buyers to deliver the right proposition,” he asserted. Citing examples from Maruti’s experience, he said: “We are at times at our wit’s end when buyers and planners come forward with different ideas. A client is very often forced to check out the efficiency and effectiveness of buyers and planners.”
Looking at both media buying and planning in the same light, Chintamani Rao of McCann Worldgroup said it was useless to debate the importance of planners or buyers. “Right now there is a lot of consolidation in the industry because of buying. There is a lot of negotiation that goes on in the industry. Adding value to the seller should be the prime concern,” he said.
The question-answer session saw a very lively interaction from the audience with marketing and media executives from Zee TV, Panacea Biotec, Goodlife and many others expressing their concern on various issues of media planning and buying. Faced with the barrage of criticism from the audience regarding the lack of transparency, Rao and Srinivas agreed that the time had come for the introduction of media audit.