With the changing media scenario in the country, a concept, called media audit, is catching up fast and creating lot of ripples in the industry. The concept is often perceived as the ideal solution to address the manifold problems plaguing the industry these days. Yet Meenakshi Madhvani has had to fight a mindset when it comes to the existence of her start-up brainchild Spatial Access.
While media agencies have labeled her as a self-appointed police, brands have often feigned ignorance at the very concept of a media audit company (not to mention the preoccupation with rates, trade secrets and so on). Despite the odds, Spatial Access boasts of a list containing 15 clients, including names like Goodlass Nerolac, Whirlpool, CavinKare, Saint Gobain and Bajaj.
An upbeat Madhvani claims, "We have already been involved with Rs 350-crore business pertaining to the ad industry - that accounts for five per cent of the advertising pie. Considering that we are an 11-month-old company and it's a market that's still digesting the idea of a media audit company, I think it's a fantastic effort."
Referring to her start-up, she says that the group aims for a clear evaluation of the returns that the client derives from media investments. This is perhaps creating discontent of media agencies. "Our intention is not to pick fault of media agencies; unfortunately, this is the perception in certain quarters. There have been cases, wherein we have acknowledged the tremendous job done by a media agency and have pushed for greater remuneration," she adds.
Media, in today's world of essential brand promotion initiatives, accounts for a substantial stake in the balance sheet - perhaps the second largest expenditure after the cost of goods. "Clients need to understand that the media process is lot more than just cheap CPRPs. What kind of returns are you getting for the CPRP? Is it making any significant difference to your market share? Is it getting you any closer to the consumer? - all these call for a convincing response," she elaborates. This is where the role of a media audit firm is felt.
Now, given the present scenario, how would Madhvani expect a greater acceptance of the services Spatial Access offers? She sounds optimistic. "I know, greater acceptance would come our way in the times to come. Because there is a genuine need for media audit - no matter be it a latent need." Dwelling more on her observations, she continues, "Before going for an investment in a new plant, a company takes on 10 issues like alternative quotations, cost of steel, cost of imported equipment vis-à-vis local equipment, time consumption, so on and so forth. Now, if they apply the same rigour and methods to media, the returns would be lots more."
However, confidentiality is a big factor in the entire process. Explaining the process practiced at Spatial Access, Madhvani says, "We have a rate pool of 38 advertisers. No advertiser is really aware of what the other's rates are. We keep that information to ourselves. We get information from our clients, it goes into our database, our software processes the data, we do benchmarking and comparisons before presentation. Yet the client doesn't know who the other constituents of the pool are."
Indian media industry's first media audit group Spatial Access is attempting to create an efficient media culture at the client's end in all aspects of the media business, be it strategic planning, buying, implementation and processes. Its objective is simple: it aims to help clients understand media better and to appreciate the services provided by the media agencies. Madhvani sums it up, believing that it would bring a lot more transparency to the entire process and help media agencies exert lots better.