Technology follows consumption and consumption follows technology, it is a cycle and unless the cycle changes you will continue to lag behind the rest of the world. It is also important that you can monetize your digital properties. I think this is the best time to be a news entrepreneur. I don’t think India has seen the next big digital entrepreneur. We have not seen the next Prannoy Roy, Raghav Bahl or Ronnie Screwvala in the Indian digital space. There are plenty of people who might get there but have not done so yet.
The delivery of news content has changed over the years and will continue to evolve with increasing competition and different platforms for news consumption. Factors like speed which were crucial at one time continue to be important but it is the Trust and Faith over 14 years that have been real deciders in the news space.
This is an industry-driven initiative with all the three stakeholders being a part of it and if they remain true to the commitment of getting BARC off the ground, I don’t see too much of an issue that should come up because all three stake-holders have actually put their money where their mouth is. It’s just been a pro-bono experience, so while the challenges of what it will take to implement BARC on the ground remain because of the sheer expanse of the market that will be covered, from an industry perspective it will be a welcome change and I think most people are looking forward to it.
I believe this medium is going through a difficult period, where people tend to compromise their value system all too easily. I also believe that for every five people who compromise there are always two who are holding the flame of truth, so the glass is half full for me .
M&E is such a dynamic industry. What keeps me awake or worries me, is losing the ability to keep in touch with the consumer, because the viewer or the consumer is evolving so rapidly. As an organization, the day we stop connecting, we have a problem. I keep reflecting, do we have the right culture, do we have the right people, do we have the right processes, do we have the right DNA in a manner of speaking which is more enterprising, so that we are constantly in touch, so that we are able to move with them if not a little ahead of them? Are we managing to stay with the curve?
What is happening in India with the new government, politically and economically, the next few years look very interesting and different. The other thing is MEC itself in the country. This is our fastest growing market in the world; so there is something that the guys here are doing are doing it right. So what we are looking to do is understand what we are doing right in India and take it to other geographies. At the same time, we are also looking at ways to speed it up. The new political and economic situation in the country combined with a dynamic and strong performance by MEC has created a “perfect storm” situation, if you like.
India now has global enterprises and multinationals. They are evolving and they are good at research and development. I am not worried about the big global enterprises I am worried about medium sizes enterprises. They are the ones who face challenges and competition. They can’t make things in a 19th century environment. They need to enhance and be able to compete.
The big monopoly houses in Indian cable industry have been offering resistance at every step of our journey. The big players thrive on the weaknesses of the small operators while our strategy is based on their empowerment. Many of these small LCOs are not highly educated and don’t fully understand the DAS regulations and matters related to taxation, etc. But they have made money by setting up their networks. At times they succumb to the pressure tactics and allurements of the big players but the history of the cable trade has shown that they don’t want to lose the control of their networks and of their customers.
I think, ultimately, all advertising will be digital and all digital advertising will be traded programmatically. India is very sophisticated, there is a tremendous amount of technology that is developed in the country and what we have seen in other markets is that when you have the right technology-rich environment, media companies or publishers will accelerate adoption.
Social media is dependent upon social networks, and those networks are made up of people who are uniquely attuned to the other people in their social networks. We intentionally look at the Facebook activity feed, and we follow people on Twitter who give us the sort of information we want. Here, social surveys play a key role in understanding what your consumers like and do not like. Unfortunately, many brands do not care for these surveys, and are content with just building a fan base or follower base.
There are multiple platforms and different sources of news. The world has gone digital and the question is where do we go in this digital world? The big challenge for all media organisations is how the ones that were big TV networks are converging their assets and how they are prioritising their digital platforms. Across these multiple platforms, we have this global conversation going which has to be captured.
A 360 campaign by default will incorporate digital channels as part of the mix and, therefore, digital can play a role in every campaign a marketer runs. Experience and familiarity with traditional channels are the only barriers that marketers have in exploiting digital channels to their advantage. The key is not proposing a 360 degree campaign for the sake of ‘ticking the boxes’, but taking the time to assess each channel in turn (digital and traditional) and decide on its importance for the target audience.
There are always distribution challenges in every country. There are substantial numbers of cable operators in India and we are looking to further breakthroughs as well. However, news channels are weeping when it comes to carriage fees as they pay a huge amount.
The fundamental belief is that in today’s digital age, the media, consumers and brands have been transformed. For consumers, this shift has been most prevalent through social and mobile technologies. For brands, these external forces have meant that all organisations are now media companies in their own right.
There will be a lot of focus on digital endeavours, which will continue post the elections. Going forward, there are plans to push the News 24 channel internationally. We have already started beaming the channel in the Middle East region... Our focus is going to be the US and Canada, wherever there are Indian viewers.
We are committed to India and are putting in money not only to create products, but also for marketing activities. There will be changes you will see in the coming months. We will be very consistent with our communications and you will also see us increase the frequency of communication about the products.
You cannot think about digital and offline in isolation any more. This is the biggest shift that has happened in our thinking and I think this has happened in the industry, in general. It is so much a part of our lives today, that our approach also has to be integrated taking into consideration how consumers’ decision making and the way they consume information has changed.
More than anything else, consolidation is at the core for survival and success. With consolidation, the bigger entities will stay relevant and be better equipped to deal with the media buying community. Efficiencies through consolidation should lead to more investment in product improvements, including measurement.
Advertising as we know it, which is placement of content in a location you have bought, is to a certain extent dead. This is so because what platforms like mobile, Internet and social have done is made media infinite… The advertising sector is still moving forward on its own inertia. There is still a lot of money being spent on traditional advertising, which is going to carry on, but if they don’t start transforming themselves drastically, they will come to a stop once the inertia runs out.
The 'Create or Else' philosophy comes from David Ogilvy's 'Sell or Else'. The creative process is messy, frightening and filled with insecurity. And that's the fun part. We are in the business of creativity that is changing in many ways, and this is the age of the story-teller so 'Create or Else' would tell stories everywhere. It is interesting to note that the business has changed, but the only thing that hasn't changed is story-telling. I strongly believe that the cardinal sin is to be boring.