The Advertising Club Bombay hosted the annual Media Review in Mumbai on 6th August focusing on the motion: “Media-unstoppable or unsustainable.”
Moving away from the erstwhile single speaker format, this year’s review saw a panel of experts dissecting the year gone by. Speakers for the evening included Sam Balsara (pictured), chairman and managing director, Madison; Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal; Vikram Sakhuja, COO, Group M South Asia, Lynn De Souza, chairman and chief executive officer, Lintas Media Group and Ravi Kiran, CEO South East and South Asia, Starcom MediaVest Group and CEO, Asia, specialist services, Starcom MediaVest. The discussions were moderated by Sanjay Behl, head-branding and marketing, Reliance Mobile.
De Souza, while reviewing TV, said that there was 7% growth in TV viewing homes in 2007 as compared to 2006. While C&S viewership was up by 12%, terrestrial viewership went down by 6%. 74 new channels launched during the year. Notable highlights included a 30% increase in advertising sales, innovations such as the Star TV roadblock created for Vodafone, advertisers deciding to not air their TVCs on channels during the IBF-AAAI issue and TRAI’s recommendations on TRPs. The biggest innovation, according to her, has been the PL.
Sakhuja discussed opportunities in the ambient media and sponsorships. In the OOH category, hoarding accounts for about 35% of the spend but are still hindered by lack of clear regulations. The positives include increase in the street furniture infrastructure including bus shelters, utilities, over bridges, benches and police posts.The important trend in the static is the consolidation and integration -- 10-15 players control over 40-50% of the billings. In the activation and digital category, there are about 10,000 screens across clusters. There will be aggregation of activation in five years. In the overall ambient medium, non-metros are an opportunity and premium inventory is expected to become more premium.
In sponsorships, cricket still rules, says Sakhuja. “It remains pretty sensible investment in spite of the variations.” Sports apart from cricket have smaller outlays. While blockbuster movies have low leverage potential, music and dance sponsorships have the strength of high integration. The international formats like Paanchvi Paas are not justifying hype and even the telecom revenues (based on that) are coming down. Targeted sponsorship is done by glamour shows like Fashion Week and Miss India. Sakhuja outlined that for both ambient and sponsorships, there is a need for measurement.
Sinha discussed the print medium which was supposed to be dead by now according to some predictions. It still remains a dominant medium for advertising. It has had more sustained launches than any other medium. The trends in the medium include more youth readership especially from the small towns. 370 million people are still not served by any publication, so there is an opportunity there. The Hindi belt shows 11% growth in space consumption. In terms of categories, telecom is moving out of print and automobiles and durables are increasing. Also, educational institutes and coaching classes are using print to connect to youth. Sinha felt that consolidation and expansion would be the key growth drivers for print. He also pointed out that specialisation was the name of the game, with rapid growth of niche content publications. There has been a positive impact of foreign players on the print medium as the production quality has improved at the top end of the spectrum. The areas of concern included low reach of each title. Sinha clearly outlined the fact that digital in India would surround and drive print and not replace it.
Should we call digital a medium, asked Kiran in his presentation. He mentioned examples of music and movies being digitised and the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut to say that we have “started poking digital and flirting with digital.” In the last year, 20% more advertisers have started using digital. More brands were using digital, doing different things in that space (media owners are creating their own channels on YouTube). Mobile advertising was increasing, but not at the rate players in the space would want. The industry was learning how to integrate digital into the so-called non-digital to provide seamless solutions.
Kiran felt that there was concern at the top echelons who ask themselves the question, ‘what are we doing in digital?’
However, Kiran wondered if there was too much experimentation in this medium. Digital is about people, not about brands, he said. Kiran warned that advertisers should not attempt to over-measure the medium just because it was measurable and asked them not to kill the media by over-demanding. He believed that traditional media planners were trying to transfer attitudes from one medium to another, which was wrong, as every medium has its own process, including digital.
Balsara was the last to present and he had the onus of presenting the issues faced by the industry. He requested media agencies and the media owners to co-exist to enlarge media agencies’ role in a sustained and profitable way for media owners. He said that “media agencies want to be counted as outstanding professionals who possess high intellectual capital. This would give us courage to demand our price.” He urged agencies to reject clients who felt that the value they deliver is not worth the price sought. “As a group, we also need to take adequate measures in order to safeguard healthy growth of the industry, like adoption of a client’s credit and process rating system, outsourcing a rating provider, group insurance on bad debts and late payments, digitisation of the commercial process, and bringing in talent from different walks of life.”