CMOs opine - Not possible to substitute TV as a primary brand building medium yet

At the TV First conference, a panel of experts from Pidilite, Dabur, Patanjali, FCB Ulka, Kellogg India and UltraTech Cement arrived at a consensus that to achieve scale in India TV is the way to go

e4m by Pallavi Borkar
Published: Feb 1, 2019 2:27 PM  | 9 min read
Panel 1

Is there a right answer to the question ‘Is TV still the most powerful brand-building medium for marketers?’ asked Saad Khan, National Planning Director, Strategic Planning, FCB Ulka, who chaired the panel discussion yesterday at exchange4media’s TV First conference in Mumbai.  

The discussion included panel speakers Sumit Mathur, Director Marketing, Kellogg India; Rajiv Dubey, Head of Media, Dabur; Vivek Sharma, Chief Marketing Officer, Pidilite; Avinash Kumar, AVP Marketing, Patanjali and Ajay Dang, Joint Executive President & Head – Marketing, UltraTech Cement. 

Khan explained how the media landscape has changed over the years in a big way. He spoke of the yesteryears when generations were brought up with only two mediums – television and print. But today there is digital, OTT, augmented reality and more mediums are springing up. “Digital is touching 300 million plus people, TV is reaching 800 million plus people, print is going to millions of households. In this complex scenario and with the availability of multiple mediums, how do you define the role of each medium; how do u manage the marketing mix or media mix?” questioned Khan to the panel members.

It‘s a million dollar question that media planning agencies have been solving quipped Mathur. “The task for us to grow our businesses is to know what is our source of growth, where they are, and how do we reach them in the most cost effective way. I'm a firm believer on reach; delivering more reach in the most cost effective way. To deliver this reach it is the medium that ensures how I can do it within the budget we have. Different brands will different requirements, so what works for them is important to understand,” explains Mathur.

He added, “If we look at pan India scale point of view, we have clearly done a lot of television, and it won’t go away soon. Television will always be the medium that gives the right ROI and right reach; it does come with spillovers and that’s the challenge; that is the role where a lot of good brand managers, good marketers will make the difference. How do you then top that reach in a cost-effective way? This is where digital comes into the picture. Digital will give you incremental reach. So then how do you play the mix to your benefit and the geography you are in and to the life stage your brand is in will have to be taken into consideration.” 

Kumar revealed, "I'm not a fan of TV advertising though we did spend a lot on it. Talking about television viewing, whenever there is an ad break you change your channel then how do you know it's hitting the right person/ consumer. The whole game is to reach 780 million people by TV. Today, the world has changed especially when u have 550 million people on high-speed internet, at least in digital I can know how many people I have reached. I know who I’m interacting with.” 

Kumar explained how the television is no more the 'idiot box;' and how it has become more intelligent and interactive. “There is no doubt when you are a doing national campaign and brand building, you have to bombard through television but how many people are receptive and how they are going to respond or embrace your brand is going to be a challenge. From tomorrow, February 1, everything will change with the new TRAI guidelines. More than 50 million smart TVs are going to be operational by 2020. When you talk about TV, there is no longer the concept of prime time. In the new world 'My Time' will be the new prime time, it will have nothing to do with time slots,” opined Kumar.

On the other hand, Sharma was firm on the belief that TV is a powerful medium and will remain powerful as you use it; the way marketers will use it will have to change. “Television will give the highest reach even if you want to build a scale brand. But the role of TV will change because other mediums are encroaching into the TV viewing habit, distracted TV viewing. Sole TV viewing is 40 per cent, rest is all family viewing. The reality is that we still have single TV households. Even the youth living in towns 3 and 4 are digitally savvy. The way we use TV will not primarily be the medium to put brand message where you spray and pray and then see if the task is done. There should be a message to create a need,” informed Sharma.

Continued Sharma, “TV has a halo effect on the impact of other media that is digital. An Accenture report says that the ROI of TV is highest followed by paid search, paid search gets positively affected by TV advertising. You can’t walk away from TV advertising. We have observed the branded searches go up dramatically. I don’t think you can build brands only through digital. Digital is a medium of paradoxes, it’s a low attention span medium. But it also happens that if the subject interests you then you get involved and share the video on social media. Television has to be used in conjunction with these mediums in a complementary fashion. And content is going to matter a lot. TV will continue to play a big role in driving brands in the minds of the people. Digital can complement the logical conclusion of closing the sales.”

Dubey exclaimed that no brand in FMCG can be built without TV. “Anything that can provide entertainment to people should be the screen to advertise on. Numbers are in favour of the broadcast medium. In digital, measurability is a big question, nobody shares data hence unless you experience it you cannot put money behind it. There is no model which can tell you the sufficient amount to invest, in TV we have an empirical data. So, in my opinion, I will continue to invest in TV but not ignore digital,” said Dubey.

Dang said, “Digital is the new shiny object. It is hugely overestimated, and yes it is changing the landscape. The core question is has TV's effectiveness gone down? Reach has not gone down, time on TV has gone up, and video content is going up whether you watch it on the idiot box or on mobile doesn’t matter. If you are looking at reach and frequency nothing substitutes TV. Despite digital growing, viewership share is 50 – 55 per cent on TV even now. In defence of TV, completion rates are 100 per cent, you watch an ad on the same parameters that you evaluate the other shiny object.”

He added, “At Ultratech we cannot teach TV consumers how to build their homes or give simple a checklist, that task we do through digital. But from a brand-building perspective TV's effectiveness has not gone down.”

Sharma says effectiveness in TV will have to get down to sharpen mechanisms or complement with other mediums to define effectiveness as ‘am I reaching my audience at that time when he is the in the cycle of thinking about my category or the product’, and that is going to be the name of the game. 

Kumar said, “OTT platform has come into play. In India the adoption process is slow, we have been brought up on TV. There is resistance to change. People don’t understand digital well. When I’m talking to a customer I want a grip on the data that I’m getting into, and that data is not available on TV. My expenses for digital space will increase. But you have to have an integrated market plan. TV needs to be supported by digital or else your TV plan will not work anymore. The data, money and the budget are going to shift for sure.” 

Mathur believes that if we have our consumer journeys really thought through then this automatically gets solved. “When it comes to driving awareness, driving wide persuasion TV will play a role but to drive advocacy TV can’t do anything; here Twitter and Instagram will work brilliantly for you. As marketers, it is important that we do our homework. The brand's role in a consumer’s life is not just watching a TV ad, he will engage with the brand at different levels, we clearly need to identify the objective at various points,” he explained.

Sharma said mapping the consumer journeys is imperative. “Consumers believe brands less and word of mouth and influencers more. So brands will have to use TV to do general awareness and brand building. But to get them to move from consideration to preference and purchase, you will have to use other mediums, notably digital, to drive influencer marketing. So when experts speak about your brand then people will believe your brand and that is one thing TV cannot do. As marketers as we go into the future, TV will remain the largest and powerful medium but the way we assign objectives to TV versus other media will have to be more granular only then can TV be made more effective,” he asserted. 

Khan pointed out that Amazon and Google had to come on TV to advertise and that says a lot about the strength of the medium so does that mean that TV helps you scale up?

Sharma said the fundamental question to ask is whom am I building it for and at what scale? “To achieve scale in India you need television. TV will be a curious mix of content and screen size. It will also become smart now that OTT is there. We as marketers will have to become smarter to see how we integrate our brand messages into OTT without being intrusive,” he explained.

Khan concluded the discussion by stating that both TV and digital are important, and if you want to achieve scale in the country television is the way to go.

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