"Media owners have not educated their clients about the power of the medium they own"

Most media owners have been passive about their medium, and only an advertising agency thinks of ideas to use that medium to best of the advantage, say industry experts

e4m by B Priya
Updated: Nov 26, 2013 9:52 AM
"Media owners have not educated their clients about the power of the medium they own"

During a panel discussion on ‘Adapting To The Multiscreen World’, where industry stalwarts elaborated on communication planning and convergence of media, the emphasis was on using multiple platforms effectively.

Moderated by Sanjoy Chakrabarty, Managing Partner, ZenithOptimedia, the panelists included Sam Balsara, Chairman and MD, Madison World; Ashish Bhasin, Chairman India and CEO South East Asia, Aegis Group; Neeraj Roy, MD and CEO, Hungama Digital; and Kartikeya Sharma, MD, News X. The panel was part of the 13th edition of the exchange4media Conclave, held in Mumbai on November 25, 2013. The theme for the Mumbai leg of the Conclave this year was ‘Shifting Media Mindset and Growth Path Ahead’.

Replying to Chakrabarty’s opening question on making a holistic communication plan, Balsara suggested that an ideal scenario would be when one media planner is in charge of all media processes, having all the knowledge and skills, and the mental faculty to look at multiple screens.

Comparing the American example of number of screens at 62 in a household, with those at his own residence at 28, Bhasin emphasised that multiple screens is already a reality in India too. But he soon addressed the pressing issue of the quality of talent in the industry. “We are not training our talent on an ongoing basis. We seldom recruit thinkers or philosophers, because we are comfortable in hiring and dealing with people like us. So, evolving with new ideas is not really about getting people who are trained in digital media, but it is about getting altogether new thought processes. At the same time, there is too much data out there but not enough to make sense of it, or to perceive it in a broader context,” he said, while further imploring media agencies to take risks, to take radical steps instead of light ones.

Roy felt that the term “convergence” has been used and abused over a long time now, but it is surely taking place as a phenomenon. “As we move from 2G to 4G, video will become like air. There will be a tremendous consumption of content, and we are at a position of strength since we can learn from the convergence taking place,” he said. He further went to say that every media house today ought to take a leap of faith to tune of 20 per cent of the client’s budget, and innovate across media without being clinical about big data, in order to keep up with the pace of consumerism.

Speaking from the point of view of the news media, Sharma said that the consumption of news had changed, with consumers of news wanting to be a part of the newsmaking process. “Our show, 'Speak Out India', is entirely based on interactivity and helps us reach people across various platforms. How we make transition across platforms seamless is critical. We go out after younger audiences since they will stay with us longer – they are open to new technology. So, it is up to us to be the link between advertisers, agencies and consumers,” he said.

Clarifying a point about the genesis of the Indian media, Balsara looked back at the time when a few advertisers and agencies convinced the then I&B Minister to create advertising slots on Doordarshan and offer it on sale. “Most media owners have been passive about their medium, and only an advertising agency thinks of ideas to use that medium to best to the advantage. My client Airtel does not know how to sell mobile advertising, but we go to them with ideas. Media owners have not educated their clients about the power of the medium they own,” he said.

In his capacity as the moderator, Chakrabarty emphasised that planners need to train themselves to engage across platforms towards the goal of uplifting the client’s brand. Responding to this, Bhasin pointed out that there was a need for a change in the mindset, by bringing in big ideas that would bring in a revolution. He suggested for a younger generation to take the reins, with the guidance of senior stalwarts. Roy added to the same point by being candid about the combat among agencies rather than working towards the benefit of brands and consumers. He added, “E-commerce is leapfrogging, and hence, brands should look out for made-for-digital content programming.”

Bhasin’s concluding remarks were crucial – whether one looks at the task as media planning or digital planning, the first step boils down to what the client wants. Innovations can take place once the client’s needs are determined and providing specialisations on a single platter will also ensure audience aggregator mechanism. 

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