Media agencies today have become media brokers: Pradeep Iyengar

While the media industry in India is under constant scrutiny, lack of transparency is a cause of concern, says the President of EMM India

e4m by Priyanka Mehra
Updated: May 2, 2013 8:07 PM
Media agencies today have become media brokers: Pradeep Iyengar

Do you think there is a gap between client’s expectations today and what agencies are delivering?
Media agencies today have become media brokers and operate like a wholesaler buying media inventory at as low a price as possible and reselling it to advertisers that creates a huge margin for the agencies, but also gives good prices to the client that they might not achieve by themselves. The problem is that in India the value of media strategy and media planning gets lost in the hectic spiral of price discounts that confuses objectivity of the role of media. Clients need to know that the agency is ‘buying the media plan’ (that is, actually optimising the media schedules using the approved channels) and ‘not planning the media buy’ (delivering a good price for the clients and a bonus for the media agencies). Yes, there is a significant gap between client’s expectations and what agencies are delivering.

What are the concern areas that need to be tackled from a media audit perspective?
A worrying increase is the clients’ lack of trust in their agencies and the realisation that clients have not grasped media’s 2013-14 media consumption realities. The farcical situation with the TV rating holiday last autumn is a classic example of media owners not understanding the role that accurate TV research brings to the negotiation currency that is vital for the media market overall.

Too often media audits have not been approved because some clients are very worried that the potential lack of transparency in media arrangements assessed by a media auditor could be uncomfortable for the client. This is why EMM India is focusing evermore on financial media audits in parallel with performance media audits, so that the learnings for the clients are deeper and more profound and improve the client’s understanding and reducing the lack of transparency inherent in the Indian media market.

What are the challenges that you see in the development of the media industry in India?
The Indian media market has not evolved very positively over the last few years, with advertisers still looking for performance benchmarks focused mainly on the lowest price and not moving with the speed of the middle market audiences who are using a wider range of media for their consumption. But advertisers still seem locked in the past. The biggest issue is the long line of management within companies who are not necessarily media savvy, but do have the power to say no. This is why the Indian media market is not expanding as fast as it could when compared to markets like China, the Philippines, Turkey, Japan and the Middle East. India has much to learn in their use of media to promote products and services to such a huge market with many audience groupings spread across a massive continent. The role of telephone media is a crucial opportunity for India and if they miss the curve they will struggle to compete with their global counterparts.

How does EMM optimise media investment in times of shrinking budgets?
EMM will recommend to advertiser clients improvements in the media investment pattern that we discover via our media management and media auditing proposition. Cost and quality performance KPIs are used to ensure maximum value is created by measuring cost and quality performances against our Indian database. We believe that quality is as important as price and the two combined become the value achieved by the client if the KPIs are reached.

What are your focus areas for 2013?
Capitalising on the momentum created by EMM India over the last year regarding awareness of our services and that we offer a choice of tailored options to suit individual client needs. Financial media auditing is already a need in India and this is a key sector for EMM India to focus on given the negative reputation that India has regarding transparency in media arrangements.

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