<b>Manish Vij</b>, Co-Founder, Quasar

Performance should not be seen as just driving clicks or leads, but driving quality clicks and leads, even if performance is the only mix. Today, media planners ask for cost per click and drive it from wherever they can at the lowest possible rates, which is not the right solution. I think logical media planning, which drives qualitative performance, is very important and not mere high volume performance.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Feb 19, 2010 12:00 AM
<b>Manish Vij</b>, Co-Founder, Quasar

Performance should not be seen as just driving clicks or leads, but driving quality clicks and leads, even if performance is the only mix. Today, media planners ask for cost per click and drive it from wherever they can at the lowest possible rates, which is not the right solution. I think logical media planning, which drives qualitative performance, is very important and not mere high volume performance.

Manish Vij is the Co-Founder of Quasar Media, an integrated online interactive agency. Prior to starting Quasar Media, he had worked with India’s largest portal, Rediff.com, for over five years. He has been recognised as one of the prominent online media professionals in the country.

He had also co-founded Tyroo.com, India’s second-largest fully self-serve ad network; Zoomtra.com - a travel meta search; and incubating entrepreneurs with ideas on digital business under the group name of Smile Interactive Technology Group.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Robin Thomas, Vij gives a comprehensive round-up of digital media in India today and Quasar Media’s role in growing the sector in the country.

Q. Please share with us how Quasar engages with its clients and how it has dealt with the slowdown.

We engaged proactively with our clients to see how they can possibly get more ROI from them for their marketing plans by increasing their share of digital. Our clients have tasted blood and have got success, hence they will continue to do so as the share of digital spends will increase. So, the economic slowdown was good for categories that experimented with the digital medium and had increased their ad spend. Had everything been hunky dory, I think it would have taken perhaps two years for marketers to increase the share in digital.



Q. What role does mobile play in your marketing plans?

Mobile is an important component of Quasar’s strategy. However, we still believe that there need to be solutions in mobile which can possibly create reach based solutions. So, while mobile has more reach, is there a way to reach, say 10 million or even 100 million mobile consumers at one go, if I want to? There is no such media offering, which can use mobile and utilise the fact that it has a large reach. However, I will appreciate campaigns like Axe, which has wonderfully used mobile as a component of their digital marketing and their offline marketing spend.

Therefore, we believe that mobile marketing is a great support at extending interactivity and that extension of interactivity or engagement can happen more over mobile, because in India a handset is available with the consumers every time and it is the fastest to reach. I would still say that mobile will not be a media property, but it will be a tool to extend engagement. I am not in high favour of mobile as a media property this year – it will certainly be a media property, but not this year. However, it will remain a part of our plans as a tool to extend reach.



Q. What about a credible measurement system in this space?

I think with ComScore is a credible resource from the media planning perspective. However, there needs to be an ad measurement and ad monitoring standardisation that needs to happen.



Q. With the IPL 2010 round the corner, what are you working on?

We are building some interesting solutions for our clients and our potential clients that can help them utilise the IPL as an event and promote their brands.



Q. Could you name some of the big account wins in 2009?

Eureka Forbes, IndiaMart, Balaji Telefilms, Shine.com and, of course, with partnerships like Enfatico and Wunderman, which also gave a lot of business to us.



Q. To begin with, where does digital media stand in India today and what is the future of digital advertising in India?

I think, investments in social media, investments in creative, and analytics will become very strong components of digital marketing solutions. Secondly, all digital marketers – whether the agencies or the publishers or anyone in the value chain – they need to engage more strongly with the clients, at least with potential clients whose audience are already on the Internet and spending more time on the Internet. My belief is that this year, digital media will actually cross the 4-per cent barrier of the total advertising spends.

FMCG, education and automobile categories will be the prime drivers of this growth. So, I recommend the marketers that while this is 4 per cent of their marketing plan, for at least some categories they need to see how they can effectively create long lasting strategic online marketing plans so that the right kind of engagement happens with their consumers. Right now, most of the digital media planning is based on ad hoc campaigns and possibly mature clients will actually get into strategic and long term digital media planning with a thought of engaging their customers, rather than having just an ad hoc campaign.



Q. It has been nearly three months since Blazar was launched. How is it doing?

Blazar is doing well, it is meeting our expectations, but will take its own time. The growth may be in triple digits for Blazar, because the base was almost negligible, however, we had on board clients like MakeMyTrip and Shine.com, which has given us a significant up side and a lot of pitches are going on in the market, and we are expected to win some soon.



Q. We haven’t heard much about Quasar Talk (a division on social media advertising). What are your plans in the social media advertising space? Who are your clients?

Every client of ours is getting a social media service under the division called Quasar Talk, and there is a separate delivery team for this service. They are the ones that drive social media for a lot of clients. For instance, we did a campaign for ‘driveyourbeat.com’ for General Motors and a very socially active campaign. I believe social media will be a very important platform for clients to interact with their consumers. Today, we believe that no campaign or no digital marketing solutions is complete without a strong element of social media strategy.

Consumers today are spending most of their time on social media and thus, the campaign relevant to that target group also needs to be there. Therefore, today a social media strategy is an important part of digital media plan. Among our clients are General Motors, Microsoft, DishTV, we have recently launched a campaign for a new programme on Star, which we are driving through social media. So, most of the clients today are getting this as a combined offering. In fact, we have invested in a very strong social media team over the last one year in Quasar Talk.



Q. In terms of growth, how was the year 2009 for Quasar and what are your growth targets for 2010?

We want to maintain our leadership position in the country and that would remain our target, which would mean that we have to grow faster than what the industry is growing and create a more disproportionate influence in media buying power, create more innovative solutions for our clients, offer them better deliveries and get deeper engagement with brands. If this happens, and we grow horizontally and vertically with our clients and potential categories, I think Quasar will retain its leadership position and that’s our prime agenda.



Q. How can agencies or marketers harness the potential of this medium?

I would urge every industry player to engage more with the clients and give clients a total picture of what digital media can provide, which spans some innovative creative solutions, social media, performance media, brand media and mobile, etc. What I have seen is that we myopically see digital as performance media, but I believe the time has come where we have crossed 50 million Internet users and we should sit before clients with confidence as part of their complete digital marketing bouquet and not just drive this medium as part of the clients’ agenda or driving performance out of it. However, at the same time, we need to make this medium more attractive for clients, and I believe this can happen with more creative solutions. Therefore, I would request industry players to give engagement solutions that will help performance as a part of it, rather than only giving performance.

As part of the media planning, I think today in the name of performance clients are given cost per click at such a low rate that it is difficult for publishers to survive that cost per click. What I am trying to say is that performance should not be seen as just driving clicks or leads, but driving quality clicks and leads, even if performance is the only mix. Today, media planners ask for cost per click and drive it from wherever they can at the lowest possible rates, which is not the right solution. I think logical media planning, which drives qualitative performance, is very important and not mere high volume performance.



Q. In 2009, Quasar was in the news for a lot of reasons – restructuring the senior team, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell inaugurating Quasar’s Global Digital Production Center, account wins such as those of IndiaMart and Eureka Forbes. Overall, how was the year 2009 for Quasar?

For our domestic business, it was not as great as we expected it to be, but we did grow in 2009 as well, though not as good as compared to the beginning of 2009. There were challenges, but it came with opportunities for us, making our delivery system strong and innovative for our clients. Thus, from the growth stand point it wasn’t as expected. Our domestic technology business grew, our domestic media and brand solutions business grew, but at the same time, our digital production centre was the fastest growing division of Quasar. The factors for digital production business to grow were the economic slowdown itself.



Q. What would you say is the USP of Blazar vis-à-vis Quasar?

Blazar is more creatively inclined and tries to give complete digital marketing solutions within this. This is the prime differentiator between the two. In fact, this year, Blazar should be at least 30 per cent of what Quasar’s brand and media solutions business is today.


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