Times Group innovates in pricing: experiments with ‘e-auction’ of its inventory for Diwali

Innovation traverses across aspects such as product, communication and even pricing. The Times of India Group has chosen the pre-Diwali period to innovate in pricing, and is experimenting with online auction of specially created inventory for the Diwali period. The three-day auction ends on October 14, 2011. Arunabh Das Sharma, Executive President, The Times of India Group, elaborates.

e4m by Noor Fathima Warsia
Updated: Oct 13, 2011 9:41 AM
Times Group innovates in pricing: experiments with ‘e-auction’ of its inventory for Diwali

Even in the media industry, innovation is not just in the product or the end offering, but also in the process, including pricing or packaging. And this Diwali, The Times of India Group is innovating in its pricing.

The Times Group has opened up a new model to media brands, the e-auction model, to book ad spaces in its publications. Ad bookings are taken online through an auction, which is hosted at indiatimes.com.

Speaking to exchange4media, Arunabh Das Sharma, Executive President, The Times of India Group, said, “We always are look for innovative things to market, and the pre-Diwali period was a good time to test the online auction model. This is perhaps the first time this is being done. Not many brands can execute this, because this requires limited supply to a high demand, and the Times Group was best placed to attempt this.”

Sharma pointed out that the media space was always clouded with lack of transparency on issues such as pricing, and the online auction model also in a sense addressed that.

In this model, prime spots will be auctioned off during a limited period of time for selected inventory days during the Diwali week. The ‘Diwali auction’ is the latest in innovations from The Times Group. Ad spaces that will be auctioned off include Ear panels, Sky buses and Spine. The auction began on October 12 and ends on 8 pm Oct 14, 2011. The inventory days that will be auctioned off are Oct 20 – Oct 25, 2011.

Sharma informed, “We have specific slots and dates, because there are bookings made much in advance blocking ad inventory, and those commitments had to be honoured. So we created space. For instance, the Spine is something new that we have never done before. We had Ear panels with a particular client but we don’t do it regularly.”

The auction will apply to Times Group publications such as The Times Of India in its Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata (excludes Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati and Patna), Pune, Hyderabad & Ahmedabad editions. Also in Mirrors’ editions of Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Mumbai & Pune and Navbharat Times editions of Delhi, Mumbai and the city-centric publications such as Bombay Times, Delhi Times, Bangalore Times, Chennai Times, Calcutta Times, Pune Times, Hyderabad Times & Ahmedabad Times.

Media agencies have been invited to participate in the auction, with unique usernames and passwords created for each participating agency.

According to Sharma, the online auction had seen a strong response in terms of registration from agencies from most of the big houses. Media agencies could sign on the website, (www.bid.indiatimes.com), select any of the auctions available and place their bid. Reserve prices and minimum increments are also indicated on individual auction pages. Automatic notifications will be sent via email indicating status of bid along with the option to place unlimited bids and rebids.

As Sharma stated upfront, this is an experiment, and a Live one at that. But as media brands in India evolve and the Indian market dynamic changes, pricing model and go to market model will evolve with it. He said, “It is unlikely with online auction would become the way of selling just as much as it is unlikely that we would keep selling the traditional ways. There would be changes but one must work towards making those changes. We are confident this would be successful and there would be more times, when we would e-auction our inventory.”

The winners would be notified via email at the close of auction. The Times Group is also providing demo sessions to agencies regarding use of website and steps to participate in the auction.

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