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TV vs. Print – the race continues

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TV vs. Print – the race continues

New channels are being launched, fresh magazines and newspapers are hitting the stands… the media scenario is as volatile as could be. Though radio is picking up, outdoor is doing fine and Internet has passed the stage of insecurity, the forces to reckon with in the Indian media market are still print and television.

The global ratio, as far as Above the Line advertising expenditure is concerned, media experts state, is settled at 40:40:20 between print, television and other media (outdoor, radio and Internet).

Let us look at what is happening in the media space in India — as per a study conducted by Pitch-MindShare-Maximize, the estimated ad spend ratio in the year 2003 was television Rs 3720 crore (45% share), dailies Rs 3017 crore (37% share), and magazines Rs 478 crore (6%). The growth predictions for the three were 9.7%, 18% and 0% in the year 2003.

Does it then indicate that the days of television supremacy are over, and television and print can co-exist without one being threatened by the other? States Bharat Kapadia, Publisher, Chitralekha, “Most clients and agencies today agree that multi-media advertising works even for FMCG products. INS Impact Multiplier is being recognized even internationally but it will take some time for FMCG advertisers to use the findings of this study. Print, in the previous year, has shown a healthy growth but more FMCG advertising will boost it further. The leading channels have shown a degrowth in 2003 whereas print has grown.”

Raj Nayak, CEO, NDTV Media presents a strong case for television, “A picture they say is worth a thousand words, so you can imagine what a moving picture is worth. Secondly, due to low literacy rate prevalent in the country, the reach of print is limited. TV is the only medium that can reach out to a base of over 80 million households. Print, as a medium cannot deliver these numbers. More importantly, contrary to popular belief, TV advertising is far cheaper than Print.”

He also gives other reasons that tilt the case in Television’s favour. “Print medium to an extent is nebulous in its reach, there is very less accountability. Data availability in terms of readership etc. is usually not dynamic enough to represent ever-changing environment. Today you can very well pin point how many people saw your ad on TV but as far as print is concerned, no one can say how many people actually saw the ad. Readership and noticing an ad are two totally different things. In an era of accountability and ever fragmenting media, television is a safer and cheaper option.”

S Yesudas, Executive Vice President, Initiative believes that though TV indeed is an important medium, the power of print cannot be ignored. Says he, “The fact that TV shows get advertised on print goes to prove that print works. A newspaper, for example, still is the first link between the world and the consumer since the time he/she wakes up, despite the growing TV news genre phenomenon. A consumer experiences the brand when the newspaper is held in his hands. Letters to the editor prove the relationship the consumer shares with the publications.”

If the print is so powerful, why do planners and buyers show a strong tilt towards television? Partha Ghosh, Vice President, Media Edge is not thrilled to hear the suggestion. He states, “Media experts cannot be biased since they are custodians of someone else’s money. They will advice the client to invest in a medium that offers better efficiencies in reaching the consumers. Today television is the most cost efficient medium for mass brands and it will continue to be so. If a mass brand is available widely across the country, it makes sense to use television to communicate.”

But there is a school of thought that believes television advertising is more expensive, and hence commissions that agencies get are much higher. Can that be a possible reason for print advertising not getting its due? Neither the media planners nor the TV sellers agree. States an emphatic Nayak, “I would say just the opposite. It is a myth that TV is more expensive than print. A 200-cc ad campaign in all major National Mainline dailies could cost 40-50 lakh for just one insertion. On Television, for the same amount you could get almost a month’s campaign with at least 3 to 4 spots per day in primetime, and probably deliver much better impact and reach. As regards commission, both the mediums pay the agency 15% commission.”

As per Ghosh, gone are the days when agencies stuck a deal with the media sellers and the client was not a part of the negotiations. “Most of the large deals, irrespective of the medium are tripartite in nature. All three parties — the medium, the client and the agency are involved in the negotiation. The deals are transparent. Moreover, commissions are not what they used to be. Today many of the agency-client relationships are fee-based. In these deals, commissions do not even come into play,” states he.

And what do they have to say on Return on Investments? Does television score much higher than print on that front too? Kapadia definitely does not think so. “Advertising on TV is more convenient and to some, more glamorous. But in a competitive market, an ad has to get more bang for the buck and prudent advertisers have started looking at print closely. TV can reach even the illiterates & CPT may work out lower in many cases but every medium has limitation. Hard to get buyers are better reached through print,” he says.

Nayak, however, believes that television delivering more RoI is truth and not fiction. “I would say accountability in television is high and that also reflects in ROI for clients. The entry barriers of advertising on television have come down drastically with increasing competition and it is no longer an elitist advertisers’ medium. You can get on to National TV today even with a small budget of Rs five lakh and get a decent two weeks campaign.”

While talking of fragmentation, as per media experts, television is increasingly becoming a frequency medium, and one has to look at print if the objective is Reach. Ghosh attempts to clear the confusion, “TV viewers are getting fragmented. As more and more channels become available, fragmentation increases. This makes it difficult to achieve reach targets. However, even today, in spite of this it still reaches out to a lot more consumers than any other medium in a cost efficient way.”

Nayak agrees whole-heartedly, “I really don’t understand the definition of ‘frequency medium’. Television today reaches more than 80 million HHs in India. What other medium has higher reach than this? If by frequency medium you mean rates are down and so clients get more spots, then that still doesn’t make it the medium frequency. It still reaches out to as many people as it used to. Hence I would say that Television was and is a reach medium. In fact it delivers better value now!”

Yesudas believes that though print has many positives, media houses have not been able to keep pace with the changing scenario. He states, “The fact remains that the time spend (on print) has been on decline. Hence, while the publications are running behind numbers to increase the width, it is also essential to increase the depth and relevance to the consumers. There's a lot the print media can do to build any brand with these consumers. In my opinion, it is the proactive approach that will ensure the pie does not keep shrinking.”

He also suggests that a change in the way the print media sellers go about selling space might also help. Television sellers, as per Yesudas, are one up as far as flexibility goes, “Print media houses, despite its own positives, lack the flexibility that TV offers for captive communication avenues and do not always bother about the client and the category that he operates in. While there could be a somewhat sacrosanct rate structure, it will not be a bad idea for the print houses to map industries and sectors whose television dependency is on the rise and look at tailor-made communication programmes.”

A healthy growth of about 15% is anticipated in print in the year 2004. However, print might just have to get a wee bit agile to take advantage of a very positive attitude. In today’s day, the hare wins the race and not the tortoise. The race would be far more exciting if was between a hare and a deer, and not a hare and a tortoise.


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