On redefining the role of TV in the age of digital disruption

At exchange4media's Prime Time Awards, Sam Balsara, Chairman of Madison World, Kartik Sharma, MD of Maxus South Asia, LV Krishnan, CEO of TAM Media, Sagnik Ghosh, VP (Marketing) of Axis Bank and Roland Landers, Head (Corporate Brand) of Zee Entertainment engage in an animated panel discussion on the evolution of the prime time environment

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jan 29, 2015 9:41 AM
On redefining the role of TV in the age of digital disruption

exchange4media held the first edition of the Prime Time Awards yesterday in Mumbai. The Awards, which honored the best work in TV advertising were presented by Zee Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. and powered by Fox International Channels

On the same occasion, there was a panel discussion featuring the likes of Sam Balsara, Chairman of Madison World, Kartik Sharma, MD of Maxus, LV Krishnan, CEO of TAM Media, Sagnik Ghosh, VP (Marketing) of Axis Bank and Roland Landers, Head (Corporate Brand) of Zee Entertainment. The session was moderated by Sandeep Sharma, CEO of RK Swamy.

The discussion centered on the disruption getting caused with mobile becoming the first screen for content consumption and how the prime time environment is changing because of this. To start of proceedings, Krishnan put forward that the three major changes being seen in the broadcasting industry are digitization, shift in consumer behavior and change in content seen on screen. "In the days of analogue broadcast, a new channel used to hog the prime brand; in the digitized world there is much more order. A channel no longer depends on distribution but on marketing to capture attention; this has been the biggest change," he opined.

According to him, we are now seeing a clear segmentation of viewership and hence targeting in terms of content. In his words, "The way a 4-year old watches TV is much different than how their parent or elder siblings used to watch TV."

The moderator opined that the future would see content cluster around apps. In answer to this statement, Landers agreed that content has to be future ready even if TV was not. He suggested that one way to do this was through the process of storytelling. The second way, he said, was to continuously think about social engagement.

The TV has long been the favoured medium for advertisers. Even today, we see sectors like e-commerce spending big money on TV since it is considered the best medium to reach and build "trustworthiness" among consumers. In recent times, this medium has come under attack as new media like digital and mobile start taking more and more money from advertiser budgets. Does this mean that the era of TV supremacy is over? Not really, opined industry veteran Balsara.

"If you want to build a brand today, you cannot do better than TV. The honest truth is that for brands, TV is the best medium," he said. He further added, however, that a few years ago, TV was enough for brands but today, it is not enough to create a successful advertising or business plan by just using the television. "Try building a brand with other media and without TV is an uphill task. For the next three years atleast I don't see any big brands being made without using TV," he said.

When asked for a marketer's perspective, Ghosh agreed that TV helps to build trust and not being on it will hurt a brand. "The multiscreen world and all the new options like DMP, programmatic, etc. have just increased the challenge for us because we do not know where to put in the budgets," he said. In answer to these points,  Sharma opined that it does not necessarily have to be an either/or situation and the rise of a new medium does not have to spell the end of another.

Sharma put the entire argument about "multi-screen" world and "second screen" in perspective. According to him, the fundamental change in the world was about screens but this did not change the fact that content still remained king. "For the last 30 years we have been used to certain type of 'screens' but mobile has changed the game. In the end , content is the key that will unlock success. The opportunity is to see these all the different platforms as screens since they are just that—platforms. Just taking content from TV to mobile is not going to work. We are in a phase were we need to rethink and reinvent not only content creation but also planning," he said.

The conversation now veered to the importance of content with Sharma pointing out the Netflix model. He asked Landers how Zee approached the matter—whether they believed in a "one size fits all" philosophy or went for hybridization of content. In response, Landers said, "We try to have a circular relationship with viewers. The challenge is to be available to all kinds of viewers and so you cannot have a "one size fits all" philosophy."

Balsara also asked Landers, whether, as a broadcast company, they expected to see revenue from TV decrease in coming years. To this Landers responded that it was not expected in the near future but, as he put it, "We are gearing up for it in the coming years once things like 4G come up."

Continuing with the topic of content, the moderator further asked Ghosh whether they created different content for different mediums. Ghosh replied that it was a mix. To give an example, he pointed out that certain financial products did much better on digital medium. "For some products we decided to try gamification which created engagement. We could not do this on TV. So we are seeing those early signs," he pointed out. He also further stated that the expected role of TV was to create awareness and reach but it does not necessarily have to end there. "It can also be used to create consideration. If I can use the TV to make people think that I am the sort of brand they would like to do business with, then this is a very different role that I am using the medium for," he added.

On the topic of taking content from TV to digital, Sharma opined that it would only work if the ad was really, really good. So good, he said that it would become platform or device agnostic but, according to him, most of the ads are not that good.

To round of the discussion, Ghosh opined, what many in the field believe, "People are still learning on the job. The mobile first plan has still not arrived but we are seeing media planners thinking about it."

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