Aimed at giving a look into the dynamics of Indian media world from different perspectives, exchange4media Knowledge Series reached the financial nerve-centre of Mumbai on July 1, following the first round of interactive discussions at the Capital last week. The first session of the Knowledge Series, dealing with the subject, New Media – How effectively are marketers using Internet and mobile, was an eye-opener. The session got rolling with a keynote speech from Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison, who talked about the way media (as a separate wing) has evolved over time and the kind of clutter that is being found on the two most popular media vehicles – television and print.
Said Balsara, “In the days when I was new to the profession, people equated media planning to a profession that was ideal for south Indians, because it involved a lot of calculations and typing skills. We have come a long way since then with media evolving in both technology and research and embracing people from various sections of society. Along with the common use of the term AOR and the launch of various publications dealing with the intrinsic factors of media buying and selling, media professionals have become celebrities in their own right.”
He added, “Yet there are various questions that pervade the industry, such as figures which reveal that TV penetration has ceased to grow. CNS penetration is no longer galloping as it did earlier. Press penetration is also constant, and is not registering any remarkable change. Magazine readership, at a macro level, has declined. However, Internet penetration has gone up by three times, from 2 million to 6 million. Around 600 million SMS messages are flying across the country every month. That gives an idea about the kind of opportunities that lie within unconventional media.”
The panel dedicated to the subject of new media and better technologies featured Neville Taraporewalla (Country Head, Yahoo! India), Alok Kejriwal (Founder & CEO, Contests2Win), Ratish Nair (COO, Mediaturf), Ajay Kelkar (Vice-President, Marketing, HDFC Bank) and Amit Ray (Vice-President, Media Services, Mudra). The session was moderated by Raj B Singh of Active Media Technology.
Said Taraporewalla, “We are looking at a Rs 70-80-crore ad spend by the year end; if luck is with us, it would go beyond Rs 100 crore. If you look at some of the ad campaigns taken on by portals, you would see that a lot of engineering and effort goes into the end product. An example would be the promotion that was taken on for Close Up on Yahoo! India, wherein the entire screen lit up to a tinge of red along with some remarkable banners on either side.”
He went on, “I think that while a lot of work has been displayed on the Internet, the onus lies on the media planner to understand the media. We have all the necessary data to validate our cause; we have tried to speak to the planners in their language, namely, OTS and ROI. The newly formed Internet & Online Association is all set to take Internet research to a new level and extend our efforts further.”
Amit Ray of Mudra felt that the subject of Internet penetration was often sidelined or pushed under the carpet because of the perception that it is too technical. He elaborated: “While the number of advertisers of various categories exceeds 650 for traditional media vehicles like television and print, you would hardly find 13 dedicated advertisers on the Internet. Only 0.5 per cent of the total ad revenue can be attributed to Internet, and the number can only rise to the point of two per cent. Add to this fact that every agency has an Internet division, yet they fail to add much value due to the lack of adequate figures and data.”
Ajay Kelkar of HDFC Bank very categorically stated, “This is the only area where you don’t have adequate data while making a buy. There is almost no yardstick to administer the ROI that you are receiving from the buy. Perhaps, the only way to gauge the efficiency of the media is through your own experience. You can administer and record the implications after you invest in the medium.”
Kejriwal of Contests2Win had a different tale to tell: “As far as traditional media is concerned, consumers and marketers are in a combat mood today. The brand is the aggressor and the consumer is fighting back. Want proof? Check out the prowess of TIVO around the globe. In such a scenario, new media can make a difference just by the sheer power of its interactivity. There are various other touch points that can in fact reach out to the consumer.”
The argument about lack of credible data as mentioned by Kelkar and Ray was opposed by Taraporewalla. Secondly, though the Internet camp was looking at the media community to sell their goods, planners insisted there wasn’t enough of a case on the part of the portals to facilitate the buy.