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.
exchange4media has been calling me for my Viewpoint, but like a true advertising person, I have no time! So I decided to write it in sleep (if you can walk in sleep why can't you write in sleep?) If it hurts your sensibility or you disagree with my views, please disregard this as a piece of junk - because I know it is impossible to pour water in a glass full of water - to give gyan to advertising gyanis.
Amit Ray, VP-Media Services, Mudra
This is the biggest farce in advertising. We genuinely believe that consumer insight is like rocket science and it can't be found without research. So increasingly it is becoming a buzzword and agencies are slowly handing over this high pedestal to research agencies. By doing this once again we are proving our lack of our own business. And research agencies, which at best has the infrastructure to interview people, are not only taking the high ground of communication business, they are making money. Worst still, advertising professionals are loosing further respect in the eyes of their clients.
To me 'insight' is a fall out of observation. I am sure that the communicators who created the commercials must have dug deep into their own experience based on observation and conversation rather than going completely by what the research agency brought back as insight.
Make people live a normal life without fear. Communicators don't need an MBA. They need to feel. They need to live the life of their consumers to get that elusive insight. Insights can't come from the research factory. It's an experience of life.
I will say this is the true 'dhanda' in advertising, and not surprisingly accountants and commodity traders understand this business better than so called media planners and media buyers. But here also, the media companies are trying to adopt manipulative tactics to make money for themselves. They would try to prove that Media space and time is mere commodity - buy it in bulk and then trade in it depending on client's desperation. This time the clients will have to be smart. If they fall for this logic they will invite monopoly which may be very good for sellers but not for buyers. So, jubilation based on low rate this year might turn to nightmare next year if they don't stop the monopolistic commodity trading pitches by media companies.
Then comes the question of neutrality - if the same agency does planning and buying undoubtedly there would be lots of cost saving for the media company but will the client really benefit? Traditionally, we have seen there is always a conflict when a seller does buying he can't remain neutral. Its not rocket science-pure human psychology. My fear is that if Media companies treat media space and time as commodity they will try to get economies of scale by buying all sorts of inventory - the good, the bad and the ugly to give the seller a lot of happiness so that he can project the average rate as lower to his client. My question is, they sure will save a huge percentage say in Print but can they get Times Of India's front page at a lower cost? Smart clients will want to appoint neutral auditors-people who have good understanding of both communication and media pricing. This is a standard practice for making commercials by a lot of clients. The clients do have someone on the payroll to audit and evaluate cost of commercials quoted by ad agencies and to quote a particular client they have saved as much as 60%! Besides, every organization these days do have internal auditors (external auditors are statutory requirement) so if Media is today the real 'dhanda' clients must think of appointing neutral auditors which will report to them only as in a regular financial auditor. I know I will be hated for my views but then it is the truth no matter how bitter it is.
Next is the issue of experience. In a mad bid to reduce costs, media companies will turn into educational institutions. They will be thin at top and will have lots of trainees handling the actual business. But that will be bad for clients. I say this because today's clients are not looking for scientific media plans but plans that will help them make their bottom line look better no matter how unscientific that is. But today's younger generations have not learnt to observe and learn. They all believe that their post graduation degree is a license to make mistake … at the expenses of Client's money. Tell me honestly when you are being operated would you trust a surgeon who passed out of Timbaktu Medical college last year and has so far only assisted in one and a half surgery? The client will be wise to demand their business to be handled by seasoned professionals like in other professions. Take Medicine, Law or Accounting, senior professionals are always managing their own clients irrespective of their seniority. Even in consulting great names like Dharen Chadda handle their own business. But then the media companies will argue the cost angle and that will bring out the truth that the media agencies are actually wanting to make money by giving substandard quality. Clients here will have to take a call as to if they want discounts on junk or get real business value? I am sure the media companies will have to adopt the consulting companies way of working.
For god's sake stop behaving like kids and have two of everything when one is enough - it hurts every one's bottom line.