How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right.
View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
Unless media independents enlarge their scope and act as clear partner with the brand both in terms of efficiency in planning and providing actual savings, they will not be heard or seen by practical clients
V.Balasubramanium, National Director, ATG
The only way to a position in which economics might give advice on a larger scale to businessmen, leads through quantitative work. For as long as we are unable to put our arguments in to figures, our voice, although occasionally it may help to dispel errors, will never be heard by practical men." Joseph A Schumpeter's quote, I find it very apt in the current media planning discipline.
Thanks to the coming of media independents, agencies in great quantum are moving towards quantification of ultimate result oriented approach-the big ROI or return on Investment. Mid Ninetees witnessed a huge buying oriented approach by media agencies, wherein clients evaluation criteria was largely in the area of rates, pushing planning to the back seat. May be the concept of AOR communicated at large was mainly on this front. But could accountability be gauged purely on buying? There is definitely a distinct difference between efficiency and savings. Pure rate negotiation could result in generating savings. Can we then negate efficiency from the brand point of view? Increasingly clients are seeking the utility of generating this efficiency and thanks to the current era of media specialist units, media independent units are now in a position to offer the best of both.
As mentioned earlier efficiency should be tangible. The client should be able to see it in a tangible form. This could be a mixture of finer consumer insights that lead to better targeting and quantifying the return on media investment. Coming to the latter point, how often an agency during its annual or quarterly media review presentation brings in the market performance along with the media deliveries? How often a detailed input-output analysis is being done for the brand? How often the learning of the input-output be factored in for the next planning stage? More often the agency does these kind of value adds more tangible efficiency will be seen by the client for the brand planning. Unless an AOR brings this type of insights to the table, it will not be able to deliver a productive service to its client.
Econometric modeling applications are slowly emerging as tools to deliver efficiency. This is a good sign for Indian industry provided the complete utility of econometric modeling is extracted. There is also a practice that using this jargon; some provide a generic ready-made model as tools. This is suicidal. It should be realised that given the dynamism and heterogeneity of markets and brand behavior, it is incorrect and dangerous to apply a generic econometric model. More customised a model the better and richer is its application. It has to be customised to the brand or market, the reason being since modeling is all about relationships, and the relationship between variables will vary by markets, media, and brand. Hence utmost care should be given in using as well as in evaluating a good modeling recommendation. Key importance should be given on the relevance and utility of any model that is to be used.
Customised econometric modeling will find relevance in examining the influence of different media on brand awareness, the influence of media on brand performance parameters like brand image score, brand awareness, and brand consideration. Once relative measure on the effectiveness score of media on these parameters are identified, this will help the agency to optimise its media objectives given the brand performance score target in any particular market. This also provides the brand manager a tool to examine the elasticity of different media on the brand score parameters. It thus becomes a complete input output metric linking the effectiveness of different media.
The complete benefit of econometric modeling resides on a typical sales modeling. Increasingly media independents are utilising this to get a complete macro picture of the market. This helps a marketing manager to examine the relative effect of all Ps on sales, thus helping him to provide adequate inputs in all Ps given the sales target.
It has to be reiterated that utmost care has to be taken in building these models. Mostly in constructing relationships between variables, one has to look in to all the hygiene statistical tests and do a corrective action. Normally agencies give least importance at this stage. The tendency is to construct a linear or log linear relationship and build a model overlooking all the statistical tests. One might generate an excellent graph out of this but the actual prediction will be far from reality!
To conclude the efficiency could be enhanced through result oriented customised econometric modeling. This will help the media independents to answer following questions concerning the brand in much more confidence
Which media will have the max effect to generate set brand scores on awareness, brand consideration, brand image etc? How much to spend to get to my target?
How much my brand scores (awareness/consideration/image) change if I change Print/TV/ Other media input by one percent?
How much my sales increase if I increase my TV/Print/both input by one percent?
What is the short term and long term effect of my media on awareness and sales? Therefore its implication on ad phasing.
How the pattern is different across markets? Etc. etc.
Of course all this is possible only with complete client inputs on the brand health scores.
Factoring in the learning out of the modeling in the planning process thus can provide directions in building each pillar of the planning pyramid: market prioritisation, objective setting, mixed media strategies, and phasing. An in depth understanding of the brand track information, both on its depth and consistency is a must for the agency personnel before venturing into the modeling activities. A slight misunderstanding in interrupting the brand track information may turn the entire analysis upside down! What is more critical at this juncture is media independents should work more closely with the research agencies than before. Clients get fed up with being herded into a darkened room by the research agency to be given a PPT presentation showing lots of wiggly lines measuring ad recall and other brand measures with no relationship being made to media strategy. They get even more fed up when they are herded into another room by the media agency to be shown an array of statistics on ratings, SOV, reach & frequency with no reference being made to how successfully the media plan has raised the brand scores. Of course media cannot answer the complete effect of communication, but can atleast link the multi media effect on the brand scores (not touching the creative part). Unless media independents enlarge their scope and purely act as clear partner with the brand both in terms of efficiency in planning and in providing the actual savings, they will not be heard or seen by practical clients!