"Planners don't understand southern market"

Media planners & ad men don’t understand the culture in South India, not allowing expansion of national advertisers, say Chennai media professionals

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 25, 2012 8:53 PM
"Planners don't understand southern market"

The Panel Discussion: Luring National Advertisers to Regional Media, at the Pitch CMO Summit 2012 – South, held in Chennai on Friday, turned out to be a heated one, with senior media officials blaming the media planners sitting in Mumbai for not understanding the southern market well.

On the panel were, Arun Anant, CEO, The Hindu; Venugopal P, CMO, Sun Direct; Narendra Alambara, COO, Sovereign Media Solutions; Shankar B, CEO, Fourth Dimension Media Solutions; KR Skandraaj, GM, Marketing, Dinamalar; and Ramesh Praba, President, Kalaignar TV. The panel was moderated by Srinivasan Swamy, CMD, RK Swamy BBDO.

The panellists were of the view that media planners need to focus beyond numbers and quantification and look at quality audience that the regional market brings along. They are able to micro-segment their audience very well and national advertisers can reach out to that audience without any spill-over.

Speaking first, Anant said that the definition of 'regional market' was expanding. Twenty years ago, while Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were considered regional markets, today West Bengal too is a regional market. Ten years ago, he said that while there was only one regional channel, there are more than 10 regional channels in the general entertainment space alone, besides the music and news genres. Today most of these channels and newspapers have a reach beyond the regional market. “The carrier vehicle might be national, but the essence is regional, hence national advertisers can reach to this audience effectively and cannot ignore these markets,” Anant said.

Anant also vouched for digitisation, and focus on GPS-enabled mobile marketing, which would help marketers micro-target.

He also added that in the regional market, ATL wasn't growing as fast as BTL.

Venugopal, on his turn vouched that DTH had the capability to be friendly with experiential marketing and can be used effectively by national advertisers to reach out to its target audience. “If you can get them (advertisers) to experience that, they will see value in the market,” he added.

He was of the view that media was getting fragmented and as a platform (DTH), you have to carry that. But due to bandwidth constraints, they could not carry all. He said that the choice was to concentrate on certain markets and Sun Direct was more concentrating in consolidating the southern markets. And national advertisers could not ignore them.

Meanwhile, Alambara was of the view that whether the media is regional or national does not matter. What matters is engagement and how effectively the media can engage its audience. “We are trying to aggregate audience for advertisers. It's about how well we can deliver to and engage that audience. The onus is on us,” he said, adding, that the challenge was to get micro. He said that FM radio has been successful in getting micro, and national advertisers who were looking at narrowcasting have adopted the medium very well.

Shankar, meanwhile, blamed the 'unfair comparison of rates' by national advertisers. He said that his company while has moved from Mumbai to Chennai, considering the growth opportunity in the market, it faced the challenge of a bottleneck created by the unfair comparison of rates with other markets.

Skandraaj was of the view that while regional media had the benefit of knowing the market very well, and could offer tailor-made solutions to national advertisers, the toughest part is briefing the planner/buyer on the psychographic and demographic figures of the region. He said that creative treatments need to be localised well with the regional audience, and for that it was important to convince marketers to look at each market differently. He was of the view that planners have inadequate exposure to local markets and their nuances. “We must invite planners to regional areas and show them the growth and opportunity,” he said.

Taking the conversation forward was Praba, who said that planners were putting too much of effort in deciphering figures without understanding the local market very well. He gave an example by showing an ad for a herbal hair oil in a local newspaper on that day, where the ad was simply translated from Hindi to Tamil. While the ad was for hair growth, and as the translators while translating the word 'herbal' turned the ad into an oil meant for 'hair fall'. “And then you (marketers) will blame the media, if the ad does not make an impact,” he said. He was of the view that agencies had quick-fix solutions for regional planning. “They will call in a Tamilian who has migrated to Mumbai 40 years ago or has been born and brought up in Mumbai only,” he said.

He also blamed TAM ratings, which he said wasn't able to capture local data effectively.

Considering that there were language and cultural barriers, planners aren't able to identify the right vehicle. He gave an example of a cookery show, which was popular in Tamil Nadu and was running for 18 years successfully, yet no national advertisers were able to identify it. In fact, he said that Shakti Masala, a regional brand has been “made on this show only”.

“Chennai Silks and Pothy's are regional brands that are becoming national and international brands, riding on regional media,” he added.

Meanwhile, Swamy was of the view that two regional languages that have been able to get rates are Bengali and Malayalam. He believed that both these languages stood for cultural ambassadorship and carried the state wherever they went.

Summing up the gist of the discussion, he said that regional media needs to focus on local events, and highlight them, which national advertisers could bank on. Also, planners need to be educated on the nuances of the local markets.

While The Economic Times was the title sponsor of the Summit, TV9 was the associated sponsor. The Summit was supported by Ad Club Chennai and Ad Club Hyderabad.

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