Campaign India Team
Jun 21, 2010

Use digital delivery to target: Irwin Gotlieb

So says Group M's Global CEO Irwin Gotlieb in a freewheeling conversation with Campaign India editor Anant Rangaswami, when he spoke about global and local trends and challenges.

Use digital delivery to target: Irwin Gotlieb

So says Group M's Global CEO Irwin Gotlieb in a freewheeling conversation with Campaign India editor Anant Rangaswami, when he spoke about global and local trends and challenges.

It's a very difficult time understanding the changes in media. You have the advantage of having a global view of the situation. With the growth in digital, with the advent of hardware such as the iPad, etc., where do you think print will go? Does print have a future at all?
‘Print’ has a brilliant life ahead, but not on paper. We have to stop thinking of print in terms of the delivery mechanism and begin to think about it in terms of the content. In fact, digital delivery of print provides a much richer experience than the paper experience does. Those businesses that define themselves in the business of content distribution will have a bright future ahead; those who focus on the method of distribution, i.e., newsprint will not do well.
Will ads get noticed even if newspapers migrate from newsprint to digital?
Digital delivery doesn’t just enhance the way the content is presented; it also enhances your ability to target your advertising messages. We’ve always known that one of the key variables in determining the effectiveness of the message is the relevance of the message. If I’m reading a photography magazine and there is an ad for a new camera, it’s very relevant to me because I’m interested, and I will look at the ad. If you look at women’s magazines, we know that women spend more time on the advertising than they do, often, on the editorial because it’s relevant to them and that’s why they bought the magazine. The secret here is ensuring that you use digital delivery to enhance your ability to target, and, by doing that, you actually have the potential to improve the effectiveness of your advertising.
Will this mean that measurement and data will have to improve dramatically?
Through digital, we can get census level as opposed to sample methodology. We can dramatically improve the data we get, the analytics we impose on the data, and the way we use our insights to form our strategies.
Will television get affected as much as print in terms of how they see themselves, especially with the emergence of broadband, 3G, IPTV, etc.?
The screen will become less relevant, but I believe that long-form television will, for the foreseeable future, remain a lean-back media consumption category. Television is, perhaps, the most effective medium ever developed. Television will become that much more effective because there are, today, mechanisms that enable addressability on digital television, where different commercials will go into different homes to improve relevance. That will dramatically improve TV’s life. The other thing is, we will stop looking at individual mediums and messages. Communication will become conjoined. The ad that I serve to you today maybe different from the one I served to you yesterday, because I know we’ve shown you some of the characteristics of the product – and we know you’ve seen it. It’s not just the effectiveness, it’s the individual mediums and what you can do with them and how you plan with all of them together.  
There is still a lag, especially when it comes to digital, between what happens in, say the US, and India, thanks to issues such as bandwidth. What would planners in Group M companies in India have to focus on? Can they afford to stay behind the US in terms of knowledge?
I don’t think they are at all behind the US in terms of knowledge.I meant, they might not need all that knowledge; the depth of knowledge. They might not need it, but the thing about markets like India is that by not being the first to deploy a technology, when you do deploy the technology, you tend to deploy it 
better. For example, the US has, arguably, the oldest cable television infrastructure in the world. It was first called CATV (Community Antenna Television). If your community was too far away from wherever the tower was, the community got together and paid for one tower and put an antenna on the top. Today, the age of some of the infrastructure which dates back 30-plus years, is a mitigating factor to commerce. The fact that your (India’s) infrastructure is primarily satellite actually gives you much more flexibility and there’s a leapfrogging opportunity. It’s important that you stay cognisant of what goes everywhere else, because sometimes it’s not a matter of reinventing the wheel but sometimes just a matter of adapting 
what happens in other places to the practical realities of local markets.
To get to new tech, the iPad, I spent some time with my colleague, the editor of Stuff magazine, to understand what one could do on the iPad with magazines. Specifically, he showed me what Popular Mechanics and Wired were doing, and what one could do with ads on these iPad versions of the magazines. One starts wondering, are the creatives ready for the changes? The media agencies seem to be up to speed, but the creatives seem to be stuck in the ‘present’.I would suggest that that’s not a new development. If you look at television, television has always suffered because there has never been enough creative firepower to provide the highest quality programming on all the available channels. People ask me, disingenuously I think, why some of the programmes on TV are not very good. The answer is, it’s very difficult to create great programmes and on TV, you have to put something on whether you have something great or not. On television, if you don’t have something great, you put on something good. If you don’t have something good, you put on something mediocre. You do your best. It’s not like in feature films wherever if you don’t have something good, you don’t have to make it. Media is going to create an enormous appetite for high quality content. We have not, in the past, we don’t, today, and we will not, in the future, have sufficient talent to provide all the content that is required. 
I wish that wasn’t so.
Your prognosis on data and measurability and analytics and the move to digital — is it going to be that much more difficult for the average to survive?
My comments are going to focus on the US. If one were to take the US as an example, one of the issues that has surfaced is, people have started to question the credibility of the news they read. People know that there is content on the web that is designed to be manipulative, which is put out by questionable sources. Brands like the NY Times, the WSJ, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, I believe will do quite well because they are credible brands and the consumer will go out and find them as sources.
Will the consumer pay for them?
Yes. In addition, there will be trusted sources that are local or hyperlocal that provide information about your community, your neighbourhood, etc. I don’t know what happens to the hundreds of newspapers in between these two extremes, between the top five/six national papers with high credibility and the hundreds and hundreds of hyper-local publications that serve the local communities. The ones in between, I think, are under threat. They have to look for a new business.
Will this be true of news TV as well?
News TV has a lot further to go. One could argue that news TV exists today, because the newspapers, in their legacy formats, only published only once a day. The best case you got was a morning paper and an evening paper and people went to news television because it was refreshed 24 hours a day. As newspapers move from paper to digital, they too will be refreshed 24 hours a day and I think that TV news will encounter some challenges from other legacy media types that they have not encountered in the last couple of decades. 
So would you say Rupert Murdoch has got it right on his print strategy and his pay-for-print strategy?
I would never bet against Rupert Murdoch. I think he’s right.
We’ve just seen the launch of the iPad and the attendant hype. Is the iPad a medium that all media owners and advertisers should be concerned about?
The iPad is an extraordinary successful device, but today they’re only 2 million around the world, around 1 million in the US, out of a population in excess of 300 million. You can do the math. It’s a non-consequential penetration. What we’re seeing with the iPad is simply the tip of the iceberg. In the course of the next 18 months we’re going to see tablets with Android OS, we’re going to see Microsoft OS tablets as well, we’re going to see every computer manufacturer jumping into this business. Whether they use applications or other mechanisms to exploit the print and other legacy media typoes, we will have substantial penetration. I cannot tell you who will get to 100 million of these devices in the US, in three years or six years, but it will, unquestionably, happen the way it did with mobile handsets. At some point, when the penetration exceeds 40 to 50%, you will have a tipping point, and when that tipping point occurs, the legacy businesses come under dramatic threat and the businesses that made the early investments begin to gain.
What should newspaper owners worry about?
It’s very easy to be lulled into doing nothing, because it is India, and because it is a little bit further down the development curve. But that would be a huge mistake. The reason for that is, history tells us that adoption in developing markets happens in a much faster pace than in developed markets. If you look at what happened with the DVD player, for example, it took ten years for it to replace the VHS format in the US and Western Europe. In Southeast Asia, it took just 2-3 years. The rate of adoption in developing markets has a leapfrog capability and occurs at a much faster rate – there is a significant risk to being complacent about how technology develops in a market like this. When it happens, it will happen quickly. It may not happen with the first generation iPad, I’m certain it won’t, but don’t think it will wait till the tenth generation. It will happen somewhere along the line and it will happen with speed, and I don’t envy the print owner who allows himself to get caught.
Should news television also worry?
News television is already in the 24-hour content update business, they already have websites that have more detailed information. What they need to do is to create a situation where they can do addressable advertising and refine their targeting. But their task is not as challenging as newspapers.
Will the media salesmen be ready for the changes?
It may require some generational shifts. Sales people from some of the legacy media houses were not often able to adapt to digital as we understand it today. But then again, I can give you examples of legacy media sales people who went on to lead digital organisations with great success.. There’s this old business school case study which says that if the railroad owners in the early 1900s had defined their business as transportation, they would have gone on to own trucking and airlines, but they defined their scope too narrowly and lost their focus. The same is true at this business today; you have to say you’re in the business of content.
What would be your advice to creatives?
Today, creatives focus on a very loosely targeted world. As the targeting improves, there is no point for media to be able to slice and dice audiences into very refined segments if we communicate using the same message to all the segments. We have to understand strategic segmentation, sequencing, serialization of communication (chapters of communication, if you will) and knowing how to deliver them in the right 
sequence. In that context, creatives will have to keep up with our ability to do all those things. We’re going to have to understand how to deliver different messages to different kinds of people at the same time. We won’t be limited to a 10, 25, 30-second commercial. I can create a series of six messages that have to be delivered in sequence and deliver them to you one after another, and I can do this across different media. Someone has to create that message.
Campaign India

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