The Advertising Club hosted its annual Media Review in Mumbai on 21 July on the theme: 'Is anyone listening? How did ad and media industry combat the challenge of continuous partial attention of audiences'.
Addressing the audience were Meenakshi Menon, chairperson and founder, Spatial Access; Pradeep Dwivedi, chief corporate sales and marketing officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group; Punitha Arumugam, director - agency business, India and SE Asia, Google; and Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands.
'We have the opportunity to re-invent the game'
Menon kicked off proceedings talking about the blurring of boundaries between creative and media agencies, among other trends. She said, “Labels don’t matter. Today, we’re not only reviewing our agencies but also our agency models.” Her contention was that the current agency model is broken.
She reasoned, “Do clients know what they want? Do we know what they want? 25 billion dollars went up for pitch and that’s happening globally.” She did however say that she was hopeful for the future (especially from an Indian perspective), because, “We (India) have the opportunity to re-invent the game.”
She urged the audience to not follow the West, but to understand what’s happening there so that we can better adapt our agency models in future. She spoke of the issue of transparency and the move towards digital. When it comes to clients and digital, things are being driven by the FOMO (fear of missing out) factor, she noted.
Increased pressure on clients is showing on agencies -- another point touched upon by Menon. Shorter agency tenures and more reviews also contribute to increased distrust between the client and agency, she pointed out. Citing research from the Cannes Lions Festival 2014, she underlined how while clients attributed one in four sales to the creative, agencies felt the work deserved credit for twice that number.
She proposed a four-point plan to bridge the distrust divide. She said, “One, focus on the interpersonal communication. Two, work with clients to better understand the role of creativity. Three, understand the distinction between different and risky. And four, practice the art of business as much as advertising.”
Menon surmised saying that agencies need to be more visible, as the agency-client relationship has become increasingly transactional.
“Move away from digital onslaught; to think, to intellectualise”
Dainik Bhaskar Group's Dwivedi took stage next. He spoke about the problem of ‘continuous partial attention’ (CPA) and how the print media can provide a solution. The role of media, he underlined, is to sift content to make sure people’s attention can be retained for longer periods of time. “Media needs to do (things) more efficiently and not necessarily in a quantitative way,” he said.
Besides touching upon the geographic reach of print, he pointed to how it also appeals to the 'emotional' and 'reward' quotient of the brain. He added, “If you want to develop emotions towards a brand, we have to start thinking of print in non-traditional ways.”
Dwivedi reasoned that one of the biggest strengths of print is to rally for social causes. “Its strength is touch and permanence. It’s something other mediums will never allow. We need to move away from the digital onslaught; to think, to intellectualise.”
The speaker surmised saying, “In India, print will remain strong because in the rural areas, regional languages are emerging in their own right and they are drawing audiences in like never before. As marketers we need to get out of this metro-centrality that we have in our mind, go to the un-metros and really understand the audiences. We all need to wake up and see that that’s where the needle is shifting.”
Measurement is key
Sinha was the third presenter of the evening. He too spoke on the issue of CPA and the need for bringing about a singular measurement system.
He went on to add that the time has come for all the stakeholders (across disciplines) to come together and decide to keep their differences aside, because measurement or lack thereof, is going to hurt the industry. “It has to be single source. Because that’s when our key custodians will be able to best use the data,” he added.
He surmised that the future lay in audience buying and said, “It’s very short-sighted to say that we’ll get measured only if we’re doing well and not get measured if we aren’t doing well. If we’re armed with measurement, we’ll have one of the factors that will help us reach one and a half percent of GDP (going towards ad spend on media).”
Even Google needs storytelling
The final speaker of the night was Punita Arumugam. Admitting that the digital world was partially responsible for the rise of CPA, she added, “We’re doing some fantastic work, despite of the fact that people say we don’t listen. We also find some great solutions to problems caused by CPA.”
The speaker emphasised the need to L-I-S-T-E-N, with some examples.
L- Leverage insights
Arumugam used Dabur as an example to show that how, by listening, media agencies have been able to gain insights and steer traditional brands such as Dabur.
I- Investigating features
She spoke on agencies finding creative solutions by integrating features from existing products to ensure consumer involvement, with the case of Burberry Kisses.
S- Seeking moments
T- Thinking moonshots
E- Employ curious people
A video featuring the creators of the Google People Search and Google Art followed. It is important to have and listen to curious people because it is curiosity that will drive creative solutions, she reasoned.
N- Nothing stopping awesome work
The talk ended with an ode to storytelling, as Arumugam ceded that even Google needed to tell a story like the India-Pakistan Reunion film.
Sam Balsara, CMD, Madison World, moderated a panel involving all four speakers to wind up proceedings. There was no consensus reached on a single measurement system that could be used across media. While panelists agreed that there was need for more investment in measurement, it was unclear as to where the money should go.