TRAI tariff, web measurement & data privacy will be big disrupters of 2019: Vikram Sakhuja

At the launch of Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2019, Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Media & OOH, Madison World, spoke on how media verticals will look in future, 3 disruptive events of the year & more

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Feb 14, 2019 8:23 AM

‘What’s in store for media in the near future,’ was the topic that Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Media & OOH, Madison World, shared his thoughts on at the release of the Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2019. He commented that how media will be shaped in the future will depend on how advertisers, media agencies and media owners use the different mediums across the fundamental media objectives.

The Media Objectives

Reach: Sakhuja noted that though television’s reach is close to 200 million homes, only a handful of advertisers - FMCG, political parties and telecom - are concerned about reaching both urban and rural homes. He says, “Reach has got to be the most important thing to get more trials and more users, but yet, at an India level, we are reaching less than half. The question to ask is whether 60% reach among urban is better or 95% reach in a particular market.”

Frequency: On this media objective, Sakhuja raised the point of “do we truly understand media frequency as a concept or is it just belting it out.”

Share of Voice: He also raised the question on whether a brand should need a share of voice over a campaign or over the fiscal.

Impact vs Regular: Impact helps break clutter and bring awareness, however it comes at a massive premium. While new advertisers such as start-ups looking to make a quick mark in the Indian market opt for impact strategy, legacy marketers historically have approached impact in a more judicious manner. “The question to my mind is do brands have an impact strategy,” he notes.

Weeks on Air (WOA): WOA or continuity, says Sakhuja, is the variable that is traded off the most. It is felt that it is better to have a campaign that is noticed over one that is always on. He says, “There are only a few brands who are always on TV, social, display search and performance, but most TV and almost all print, radio, out-of-home and cinema activities are sporadic and behind specific marketing initiatives rather than always on. I have always wonder why WOA is not given more importance and why WOA is only given importance on search, maybe SEO, TV and performance.”

Sakhuja also laid down how each media vertical will look going ahead.

Television: As per Sakhuja, television will continue to be the base medium for building awareness and consideration and more TV channels will launch in the future. He also said that the rates/10 seconds will not increase and may even fall. The fragmentation in the sector will lead to increase in CPRP (Cost Per Rating Point). If one were to look at competitive CPRPs within a genre, it will cost more to reach less. The occasional super premium impact programme, like IPL, will have be a tribal moment to command a value.


Digital Video: Digital video will grow on back of OTT, Youtube, Jio and other video consumption/sharing platforms. Sakhuja says, “Digital video has two roles. On advertising, the TV versus Digital video debate will be of one supplementing or complementing rather than one replacing the other. But when it comes to content, video will have a solo run and will grow as brands embrace content assets. As we embrace more and more content, the entire aspect of using video as scalable assets will grow.”

Social Will Overtake Search: Social is seen to be the biggest beneficiary and will grow on the back of content, psychographic targeting and outcome deliverables that have already been established itself in the past few years. “Here again, its growth is only going to be stunted by the brand’s ability to create content assets. Search will grow but more modestly as Cost Per Clicks (CPC) go up, the RoI on Search reduces and in the process Social will overtake Search,” he says.

Print: According to Sakhuja, Print will have a bumpy ride and will remain the medium for call to action and announcement of new news unless it reinvents itself. This category will bear scrutiny of effectiveness more than any other medium. Comparisons will inevitably be made with digital, and newspapers will struggle to balance yield with outlays.

Digital Display: Digital Display will continue to grow but less than video. With contextual, performance oriented, rich media, tech enhanced nature of banner marketing, digital display will win the battle versus print. He adds that voice will emerge as a display medium.

Radio, Cinema &OOH: Sakhuja says that radio and cinema will grow as outlays remain modest and local marketing importance grows. Out-of-home will grow, courtesy the traffic count measurement which helps planners find out impressions at every site and cost per thousand for these impressions.

Sakhuja states that if current trend continue, by 2021, digital will be the dominant second medium, overtaking Print, with Television remaining the leading medium.

However, he says that three disruptive events - TRAI tariff pricing of channels, digital data measurement & data privacy and two changes in marketing –  integrated marketing and increased localisation – will play a role in how advertisers market their brands and will have an impact on the industry.

TRAI Tariff Pricing of Channels:  The implementation of the TRAI tariff order will reduce the number of channels a consumer receives from 350 channels to around 150 channels. He says, “Once the extraneous channels that are not selected goes down, the individual channel reach will reduce, the average time spent (ATS) will go up and overall fragmentation will reduce.” This could also result in more channels becoming free-to-air and leading to a possible increase in carriage fee. There will also be more consumer experimentation, with consumer opting in and out of channels on a monthly basis. He adds, “Today there is a high degree of substitution possible between channels and media planners could switch channels and get the same reach. In the post TRAI world, we will need a combination of channels to build reach and no two channels will be completely substitutable. Life will also be more dynamic. Using the past four weeks to predict the next four weeks, something that media agencies do, will become very challenging. This is going to be a good time for a media planner to make a difference.”

Digital Measurement: Despite the huge growth in digital, this is a medium that still doesn’t have a measurement currency that tells advertisers and planners about digital adex, viewership or listenership. The industry big bet, EKAM, is still to be launched and this could give a currency on digital viewership and integrated viewership between television and digital and redefine the Rs 27,000 crore video market. Sakhuja believes that TV and OTT are going to be increasingly interchangeable and there will be a lot of crossover advertising once both are measurable on the same platform. He says, “TV and OTT content ecosystem will actually allow advertisers to move to a scenario that used to be reminiscent of the private producer days where you could collaborate with private producers, take slots and build brands in a completely different way and have free commercial time (FCT) model that used to exist in the eighties and early nineties. This will allow the narrow cast of the broadcast medium as we can choose markets, gender and age and eliminate wastage in TV broadcast.”

Data Privacy: Access to consumer data will have a profound bearing on how digital marketing will evolve. However, on privacy, detractors say that global digital media giants have the power and ability to manipulate consumer behaviour and profile them if they control the data. On the other hand, supporters say that consumer data has led to contextual, psychographic, programmatic marketing and made messaging to consumer more relevant. However, the crux of this issue is the difference between marketing and profiling. Sakhuja cautions, “It’s ok to target but don’t profile, that’s the underlying word. The difference is subtle but significant as if you cross the line, you run risk of losing targeting and attribution benefits.”

New Marketing Practices:

Integrated Marketing: While integrated marketing has been talked about for decades, the reality is that marketing still acts in silos when it comes to deciding the medium. The focus now is on the consumer journey, the potential media touch-point where consumer is engaged in the activity of listening, viewing, reading, shopping, socialising, learning and gaming. He says, “These are touch-points that brands can exploit and get the consumer to see the brand in a particular way, think about using it, experience and buy the brand or share their views about the brand. Until now 90% of marketing budgets were on brands getting the consumers to see them but increasingly as people start doing journey planning, there will be a point of time where it will be about getting them think about the brand, evaluate and experience the brand.” The biggest catalyst to making this happen will be a common currency called Cost Per Thousand (CPT) across media platforms, and Sakhuja says, that the minute you get everything across the consumer journey on one platform, the result will be amazingly different and this can be overlaid on the outcome piece to get the measuring cost for outcome.


Localisation: Sakhuja believes that India’s heterogeneity needs to be factored much more in marketing plans. The way forward is for brands to fight through the battlegrounds and go from spray and pray to seek and prey as illustrated by regional brands, such as Ghari detergent that started as a regional brand and went on to become a national brand.

On a final note, Sakhuja says that what’s in store for media in the near future is essentially, harder working outcome based marketing. He lays down six forces that will shape how advertising spends market will evolve:

Expansion of the Marketing Funnel:  While media planners are used to making trade-offs between mediums and media objectives to get consumers to see the ad, they will now additionally make trade-offs between getting them to see, explore, experience, buy and share across the consumer journey and marketing budgets will be cut up across this. If that happens, Sakhuja says, that television will lose out relatively while others will gain.

Integrated Reach: Integrated reach will be critical as more media touch-ponts will be required to get reach. Marketers will seek an integrated plans as it will be too expensive to use just one medium to get reach and the need will be for combination of mediums to get reach.

Greater Localisation: Digitisation and channel selection will lead to more localisation. Television will be used as a local medium more than it has been done before. Digital, OOH, Radio and Cinema will continue to work in combination much better than in silos. Print will redefine value the local marketer.

Integrated reach, CPT and greater localisation will lead to intelligent media selling: There will be need to find brand building solutions and media will get more integrated when devices get connected.

Data and technology will revolutionise targeting

We will decode how media works: The combination of marketing analytics and real time attribution, will help stakeholders understand the sequence of media and right consumer behaviour for each category.

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