It’s nearly a decade since the media independents came into being in India and in these ten years this industry has “lived” and “died” at the least ten times. Starting from the legacy led “2.5% commission” that was attributed to media buying, which eventually became the millstone that led to the slowing down of investment in talent, to “fee based model” to “fee based plus incentive model” to “fee based plus incentive plus penalty model” to “submitting a fee to pitch model” and to many hybrid models.
All this was happening against a rapidly changing environment; rampant fragmentation, declining readership, the questioning of measurement metrics or the lack of it, digital boom-bust-boom, the loss of trained talent to our own friends on the other/many sides of the table…..we have really come a long way.
I believe the next decade will mark the arrival of the mature Media Independent; well past adolescence, talking real and serious business with clients. The time has come. those who had left the ship, disillusioned, will come back to board this ship, albeit with new and bold convictions. We will no longer talk about the “toothpaste that has come out of the tube” but will talk about co-existence and collaboration. In any case, the number of stakeholders who influence the entire Marketing Value Chain has multiplied in the last decade too…
Keeping all this in mind, amidst all chaos and cacophony (550 channels notwithstanding!), I believe media agencies should focus on these five areas as we enter the next decade. For each of these focus areas, I have just given only one example to trigger the thoughts…obviously we all can do more than one!
1. Get the right people and invest in them At last count, our industry has, at the most, 1500 trained professionals in the country working across all the media agencies and I believe this is definitely not enough. We keep poaching from each other, and, in the process, have overheated the market with a false sense of achievement. More importantly, we are not getting enough “new blood” into the system. It will do a world of good if we bring in good and trained talent from the marketing discipline of the industry, even if we ruffle some feathers to come out trumps.
2. Specialism is IN and not OUT – Agencies must focus on getting diverse set of talent across various functions within and not look at them as “add-ons”. Otherwise we will be left with the danger of just being transactional and will never be seen as creating value for the clients. I personally fail to understand why a planner cannot choose between Google and Yahoo when he can make the same choice between Star and Zee in a media plan!The same philosophy applies to whether it is Social Media or Experiential Marketing.
3. Going back to basics – We will have to look beyond the very definition of Advertising. During my management days I was told by Philip Kotler that Advertising is a “non-personal’ form of communication, conducted through “paid media” under clear “sponsorship”. Now this business is both personal and non-personal, we are talking about “paid-owned-earned” media and we are discussing beyond sponsorships. Media Independents must talk the Marketing Communications language and for this we must look beyond intermediary variables like GRPs and Impressions and move towards the final result – Sales and brand health.
4. Financial management – I believe we will have to work a lot better with all the industry bodies to ensure that our clients pay on time (and not treat us as their funding banks). This comes on the back of behaving like a mature Media Independent. This obviously means that we have to improve our processes currently in place to manage multiple channels (for the same 1000 GRP plan we require 200% more transactions/not to ignore the spots that are bumped off by channels to maximize their yields which means it is 250%). This is a vicious circle. The industry should come out of this for its collective good.
5. Invest in Products – We all can do a world of good to this industry if we can develop some unique and customised planning/buying/research products that help us move up the value chain. While, as an industry, we will have some “least common denominator” products like TAM, IRS etc., each of us should invest in developing some unique and world class products that raise the bar in accountability, channel neutrality and efficiency as the “greatest common multiplier” that help us command a premium for our service.
The next decade will mark the arrival of the mature Media Independent; well past adolescence, talking real and serious business with clients
Read Jai Lala's views on what's in store in 2011 in his Mindshare India Predictions 2011 piece here
Read Vikram Sakhuja's views on what's in store in 2011 in his Mindshare India Predictions 2011 piece here
Read M A Parthasarthy's views on what's in store in 2011 in his Mindshare India Predictions 2011 piece here
Read Prasanth Kumar's views on what's in store in 2011 in his Mindshare India Predictions 2011 piece here
Read Alok Sinha's views on what's in store in 2011 in his Mindshare India Predictions 2011 piece here