Give us a brief about Vivaki Partnership Unit, its structure and alignment...
Vivaki comprises of three main companies, one is the Starcom Media group, another is the Zenith Optimedia and the third is Vivaki Exchange which buys for both these brands; Starcom and Zenith Optimedia. Typically Vivaki Exchange buys for Rs 2,800 crores of media space and commercial time including radio. We are the second largest buyers in the country after Group M and the single largest in Delhi.
Vivaki Partnership Unit is a flagship unit housed under Vivaki Exchange. This is formed to pursue partnership between local full service agencies and media agencies in tier II and tier III markets. VPU also works with small scale advertisers in metros and tier II and tier III towns to help them achieve better value on their media spends and to give them a different perspective.
We have heard too much on digital already, but do we see digital becoming a focus even in the metro cities? How is the situation in tier II and III?’
As I always say, ‘digital is not a medium, digital is a way of life’. Smartphone penetration in India is close to 60 percent, internet penetration in metros is around 80 to 90 per cent. This is the new way of life with every other person today using two phones with internet just being a touch button away. Today you don’t need to carry a hard copy for anything as we all have a soft copy of all we need with us. Thanks to 3G, downloading is becoming much easier and fun. All this states in itself that digital is very much already there.
When it comes to path breaking work in terms of digital in India, it’s still going to take some time as people are still experimenting. There is work that is different and out of the box but there is still some lack of innovation, as of now digital is all about differentiated use of medium. But the day when we see path breaking work when it comes to digital is not very far. For digital, life is just not online now, its moved to location and mobile.
Though digital is growing by leaps and bounds, what we need now in our country is more focus on creative when it comes to digital. Once there is a focus on creative, that’s when we can expect some sturdy and interesting work coming out in digital. I’m sure this will happen by the next two to three years.
How different is your new role in Vivaki Partnership Unit from your previous role at Starcom?
Very. This role is a very challenging one. When you go for established brands like Samsung, Aircel etc. and then move to small scale advertisers, it’s a different ball game altogether. Here you need to be clear with your facts as there is no time for a 100-slide presentation. You need to give them a clear prospective and a clear RoI. So, the efforts are more, the thinking needs to be very straight and needs to be RoI-led. It’s not easy to get Rs 10 crores out of an entrepreneur; you need to have logic and reason behind everything.
What was the whole strategy behind creating a special unit for tier II and tier III?
From growth point of view, we had Starcom and Zenith Optimedia taking care of the (top) four metros. Today when we see, a lot of growth is coming from tier II and tier III towns since most of the retail, jewellery, real estate, travel and tourism and tele-shopping sort of categories are blossoming in these towns.
Currently, their partners in terms of media agencies are not able to take care of their needs and explore their potential. So, VPU has been established to cater to their needs and work in line with their business models. Depending on these business models we either go directly to the advertisers or we approach the agencies that have been working with these advertisers for over a span of many years, giving them the backing of a full-fledged media agency.
How competitive is the scenario in small cities vis-a-vis the metro states with regards to digital?
It’s competitive in a sense that you have to first make them understand. When it comes to the digital aspect of tier II and tier III they are still where the metros in India were some five years back. It’s still living in the age of display and content. Search-led hasn’t reached out much, there is a very little bit of social media that has started creeping in but it’s still at a very nascent stage. Given the right focus and channelisation there is a great potential of it going further and it will grow faster than the rate at which the mainstream towns are growing
What is VPU's strategy for tier II and III markets in 2013?
We are looking at Lucknow, Kanpur, Cochin, Pune (where we’ve already aligned with a partner) and the fourth could be between Ludhiana and Jaipur. The categories we are looking at targeting are jewellery, travel and tourism, spices, tele-shopping and furnishing.
We will approach the advertisers directly and if the market is extremely competitive then we’ll align with the key players in that market.