More bang for the buck. Every media paisa needs to bend over backwards in order to save itself, and it's a fair reflection of the current client climate. When Abhishek Bhatia, Senior Manager, ICICI Prudential was asked about his decision to shift to a new media agency, his response was, "We need an agency that doesn't just display tools but knows how to employ them in the best possible manner." How important, then, are tools in the media planning & buying, and what kind of value addition do they really fetch for the client?
When it comes to strategic planning, do the right analytical tools have a big say in increasing value and budgetary savings? Or do they work more like showpieces that are broadcast only on the eventuality of a pitch?
Nandini Dias, Vice President, Lodestar is of the opinion that tools indeed are critical to media planning and buying process. She states, "This is one area where we have devoted considerable time and energy. Our focus is on developing tools and techniques, which will allow clients to save more, through better planning. The real differentiating factor is that we ensure that all our media planners use the tools. They are not used only on the eventuality of a pitch. They are meant for generating genuinely better plans and buys."
Tools evidently come in all shapes and sizes. An example would be AdPhase (owned by Group M) which uses historical tracking data to model and ultimately predict the required level of media weight to generate defined advertising awareness levels. Then, there is Sync View (employed by Mediacom), which offers the client an approximate mix of TG's which view a particular programme. A third would be Mediagraphics (a precision targeting tool owned by Lodestar), based on NRS, which is installed within the planning package Sesame. Incidentally, Mediagraphics had bagged Gold at the Emvies, for significant strides in value addition.
For the client, it's all a question of specialised solutions. Tools that are too generic in nature do not interest them. Says Kartik Raina, CEO, Dalmia Consumer care, "I guess tools are helpful, when it comes to media buying strategy, but these are often superceded by the client's own experience in sales and consumer behavior. The problem with most tools is that they do not offer customised solutions. They offer basic insight on viewing and what TG is watching which programme, but not everyone needs generalised solutions. For instance, if my interest is in areas like Dharavi and the viewing behavior of the residents there (where the bulk of my consumers come from), I have practically no solutions from the media side. That's where I turn to market research."
Raina further elucidates, "The question is, what tool would help me understand my target audience (which is different from every other advertiser's TG). Basic information about males, females and popular spots on television, is not going to accomplish much. Targeted tools, is the need of the hour and these should differ according to the advertiser's need."
Aloke Banerjee, Head (Domestic Business), Bombay Dyeing asserts, "Tools can never be employed to indicate media strategy, obviously that's something that the client fishes from the market. But they do add as optimisers, and add to efficiency in buying and planning. Tools bring logic to the entire game, and offer more targeted solutions. Not everything needs to boil down to rate negotiation. We are more than happy with the tools employed by our media agency Initiative, and we think that it has gone a long way, in reaching the right audiences."
Sanjeev Shukla, Marketing Manager, Hyundai believes that tools may come in handy for FMCG categories but have little or no relevance for car brands. Shukla asserts, "My motive is not to reach out to each and every individual but to reach out to those who can afford what I have to offer. Only 5% of the audience can actually afford cars. Hence tools, which are focused on greater reach, are of little significance. I suppose tools that focus on qualitative aspects or behavioral facets could come in handy for a category like automobiles, but there isn't much being done on this front."
The verdict is pretty simple. Smart buying can only be possible when the right tools are employed. And the tools can only be right, when customised to suit different needs. But are there enough such tools in the Indian media market? Clients don't really think so.