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Tarun Katial

CEO | 25 Jun 2010

We see a huge opportunity in BTL as it is an extremely fragmented business and isn’t consolidated easily, and nobody has a scale in this business. We are in a nascent stage, but we have started focusing on this business significantly in the last six months. In the next 2-5 years, we want to have at least 20-30 per cent of market share. This is a fragmented industry as very few people have invested in it. The only player that is showing some consolidation is the WPP Group.

At the helm of one of India’s youngest media houses, Reliance Media World Ltd, and with impressive stints at Star TV and Sony Entertainment Television, Tarun Katial is one of the most successful executives in the Indian media industry. In early 2006, Katial set out to launch 92.7 Big FM, India’s largest FM network of 45 stations and has successfully taken the medium to the deepest pockets of India. Moving quickly from being a radio company to a holistic media company with an integrated and diversified portfolio, Katial set up business verticals, which include Big Street – in the business of out of home media, Big Live – the experiential marketing wing of the company covering activations, events, intellectual properties and rural marketing, and Big Digital – an initiative in the digital space offering mobile and online solutions.

After completing his MBA in marketing in 1998, Katial’s self-confessed urge to do something “different and exciting” saw him jump into the world of advertising, where he spent a fruitful three years with agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, Enterprise Nexus, and Ogilvy & Mather. Then, television happened and sky-rocketed his career into a higher orbit.

He joined Star Network as Executive Vice President - Content and Communications and after a dream run there, continued his journey onwards at Sony Entertainment Television as Business Head – SET.

Katial has an established track record of well crafted and successful shows, he has conceived, produced and marketed television brands like ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki’, ‘Khullja Sim Sim’, ‘Indian Idol’, ‘Fame Gurukul’.

Amongst the other achievements in Katial’s cap, a significant one is for being voted the NewsCorp Achiever for Asia and another for being included amongst the best in the India Today 30 on 30 list. He was also part of the team that won the first Media Gold at Cannes.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Khushboo Tanna, Katial speaks about renaming of Reliance Media World as Reliance Broadcast Network, beefing up of the sales function, the radio venture and the focus areas.

Q. Please tell us something about the new identity of the group and what was the thought process behind the name change.

There were two reasons. Reliance Media World and Reliance Media Works are two separate entities, but sometimes people get confused. The other reason is that we are a broadcast platform and we want to build it into a network, and the new name reflects that. However, the logo and the colour scheme will be similar to the other logos of the group, because we are a part of the family and all Reliance companies will have the same brand identity.

Q. Along with the change in the identity, you are putting a lot of focus on your sales team. How have you trained them over the past 4-5 months to get them ready for this?

We have done some extensive work in training them for integrated sales. We have brought in specialists for every vertical. We had conducted extensive workshops almost every weekend, along with undertaking competency mapping. The sales team will now specialise in adding value to the customer and his challenges rather than focusing on just one product line. It is now a key account management structure versus a media vertical structure. We have moved from an internal facing sales team to an external looking and value focusing sales team.

Q. Considering that you have placed so much focus on sales, you surely would have hired new talent as well. How has that changed the reporting structure in the sales team?

Yes, we have brought in people from varied backgrounds of selling multiple products such as BFSI (Banking and Financial Services) as they are used to cross selling and up-selling very well. We have taken in people from areas that have an understanding of the customer needs and can create value through cross selling and up-selling. The reporting structure has also changed a bit and now all lines of businesses report to one regional sales head, who then reports into one single national sales head.

Q. Everyone keeps talking about how radio is growing. Have you, in the past few years, noticed any new sectors of advertisers on radio?

SME has been one sector that is increasingly investing in radio ads, and within the sales team we have a business development team that taps the SMEs. Education has been one of our new business growth drivers. Some of the other sectors are OTC (Over the Counter) pharma, retail - both organised and un-organised – and telecom as the local tariff and VAS play happens very well on radio. The radio industry has seen growth, especially in Tier II and Tier III cities. There is a lot of corporate focus on these cities, especially from sectors such as automobiles, FMCG and banking. We have also seen a rise in rural advertisers such as Mahindra & Mahindra, seed manufactures and banking players who do rural finance.

Q. Could you tell us about some of the verticals that we can expect in the future?

The digital audio content and video content and deploying on 3G is a big opportunity for us; as is digital OOH and the changing the face of the platform in the media. We have a central marketing team, which talks to every vertical and amplifies every product we have from diff businesses.

Q. What are you immediate focus areas after the Phase 3 rollout?

Our immediate focus after the Phase 3 rollout is to open the news and current affairs section as we have the ICC rights. We, as a player, are well poised to take advantage of networking, Phase 3, and rural and semi-urban penetration, as we have content production hubs in different parts of the country and they can pipe out content easily. We have the content, we just need the basic technology to capitalise on that.

Q. Besides radio, what businesses do you intend to focus on?

We see a huge opportunity in BTL as it is an extremely fragmented business and isn’t consolidated easily, and nobody has a scale in this business. We are in a nascent stage, but we have started focusing on this business significantly in the last six months. In the next 2-5 years, we want to have at least 20-30 per cent of market share. This is a fragmented industry as very few people have invested in it. The only player that is showing some consolidation is the WPP Group.

Q. Lastly, aren’t you concerned that people might not be able to relate to the frequent name change?

It’s a dynamic world and one doesn’t want to see what is static, and I am pretty sure that people will be able to relate to it.

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