If your people are not excited, you won't see good work coming out: Alok Sinha, Initiative
In his first interview after taking up the new role, Sinha, Chief Strategy Officer of Initiative spoke on how media planning has become a more complex exercise than ever
Having joined Initiative as its new Chief Strategy Officer few weeks back, Alok Sinha is focusing on ensuring that his teams and the teams that he is working with are inspired, excited and happy to be doing the work that they want to do. In his first interview after taking up the new role, Sinha spoke about his vision for Initiative and how media planning has become a more complex exercise than ever.
What kind of transformation has the media planning landscape witnessed in the last few years?
I think the big shift is that five years back the media was led by TV. It is not that it is not TV led at the moment but I think perspectives have changed quite a bit. The thinking has moved beyond TV. Also the kind of capabilities and skill sets that you see within media organisations, media agencies, etc. are very different than you would have imagined few years back.
Moreover, the kind of data that media agencies have access to now has changed. Earlier it was a lot about reach curves and effective frequencies and I don't think it is going to change too much in the short term, but I think there is a whole lot of other complexity that has been introduced into agencies with the kind of data that has actually become available. Very broadly, those are the kind of shifts that I see happening.
How do you see the availability of a plethora of media platforms in today's market environment? Has it added to the complexity of media planning?
Yes it has become a challenge, but it is a challenge which the agencies have taken head on. It puts a lot of responsibility on the planners to be able to upgrade themselves and to up-skill themselves.
The biggest challenge for media planners I think is the environment in which they are actually doing the planning. There was study done in 2008 which indicated that consumers are bombarded with roughly 3000-5000 commercial messages in a day, and I am sure that this number has gone up significantly now. So, if you are going to be bombarded with so many messages as a consumer, you are going to switch off. You are not going to pay attention to so many messages thrown at you. So as media planners and media professionals we need to be cognizant of that. As an industry we have to work hard to ensure to create messages which pull the consumers in.
In your view has the adoption of big data and AI given media planners better insights into consumer behaviour or again made the planning game more complex?
I think there exists some complexity given that the number of data points have increased, and in many cases those data points are not talking to each other in a cohesive kind of manner. This is where conversations around big data and AI come into play because what this technology is doing is streamlining multiple data sets to make smarter decisions. If we talk of big data in the Indian context, I think it's still early days and marketers are still experimenting and the scale up will happen soon.
Can data led marketing help in building emotional connect?
When we are talking about targeting, we are talking about just one aspect of communication. It is about identifying somebody who is right for you and be able to deliver right kind of messages in the right kind of context. The other part is the message itself where data also has a role to play. By understanding what kind of content is appealing to people is a great input into the process of creation itself and generates the emotional response that you desire from the consumer.
Tell us about your vision for Initiative?
I see myself as a conductor. The important part of what I do is ensuring that my teams and the teams that I am working with are inspired, excited and happy to be doing the work that they want to do. This industry moves so fast that if your people are not excited or happy, you will not see good work coming out. Second important thing for me is to be able to integrate the different skill sets that sit within this agency and bring those skill-sets to bear on the businesses that we handle, and finally, to ensure that the brands at end of the day are actually successful in the marketplace.
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