Rewind 2013: "2013 was an interesting year, with more hits than misses"

In a year when print was struggling, we saw growth that was exponentially higher than industry average from FMCGs & traditionally non-print clientele, says SMM's Narendra Kumar Alambara

e4m by Narendra Kumar Alambara
Updated: Jan 3, 2014 9:08 AM
Rewind 2013: "2013 was an interesting year, with more hits than misses"

After years of being a media planner, the transition to space marketing gave me the opportunity to see things from a new perspective. While I still exist in the same eco-system of clients, media and agencies, the dimensions and scale of interactions seem very different. The process in an agency is from a ‘Brand First’ mindset, while in the media side, it is mostly revenue-led.

And my take is that most media brands still haven’t been able to make that leap from being a space/ time provider to clients over being a solution platform.

There were a few truths and learnings that I took forward into my new role. While most of them appear apparent, the difference to me was experiencing and practicing them first-hand.

Media trumps market
The challenge of the marketer continues to be maximising their brand share, hence the constant search for potential audience bases to reach out to. While it is good to get the message across by partnering with the lead media in each market, there have been situations where a couple of clients (in recruitment space) have moved away from a market to another purely on account of cheaper media costs.

Brands seek solutions
Most media brands are comfortable selling their product (space/ time) with maybe added bits of value additions such as sponsorships, etc., and the expectations of agencies have mostly been transactional in nature.

However, true collaboration will come about only when agencies are able to deliver briefs that challenge the media brands into offering solutions that are genuinely game-changers. Also, media brands need to equip themselves with brand custodians who ideate proactively on solutions.

Value overshadows cost
Most discussions that I have had in the recent past involves around lowering of cost (or rate), usually with little or no rationale. While the pressure of the market-place and demands of the clients are understandable, brands (and therefore, agencies) opting to choose the cheapest option are actually operating in a myopic way.

I do believe that the conversation needs to move to a value platform rather than the dated cost platform. Given the limited resources brands seem to have, it is prudent to extract better value from one vehicle rather than spread it thin across a larger set.

Value addition concept in its current form has been abused far too long now and needs to be seen in a fresher and hopefully dynamic perspective.

Multiple media use isn’t IMC
The trend to bundle different media options available under the same brand/ company is finding acceptance. But unfortunately, the packaging tends to be at a superficial level driven by cost-structure rather than offering brands a true and integrated platform to get the messaging across.

Media companies (with multiple brands) need to package (and repackage) their brands to make them more endearing for end users. And brands need to have well defined strategies in place to extract most from these multi-brand, multi-platform options.

The year 2013 was an interesting year, with more hits than misses. In a year when print was struggling, we saw growth that was exponentially higher than industry average. While growth came from FMCGs and traditionally non-print clientele, true-blue print consumers such as automotive faltered in recent months.

I have no doubt that 2014 will be another challenging year for the industry in general and print in particular. With new features and advertiser-friendly sections, we hope to grow stronger and dynamic in the New Year.

Narendra Kumar Alambara is COO, Soveriegn Media Marketing.

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