Advertising: Hanging by a thread

| Updated on: Jan 03, 2013
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Converse with anyone worth his/ her salt in the world of advertising and media, and they would struggle to collate significant happenings from last year. The market sentiment has been pessimistic, clients have become more cautious than they ought to be, and the end result is advertising budgets getting postponed or curtailed. The last quarter was the worst, and media houses were scampering to make best of a last-minute sale. Some patterns that have emerged over the last year are discussed below.

Small media dictates big media

A tweet is enough for a news channel to fill footage for hours. One news channel picks it up, and twenty others follow suit. Days later, one realises that the tweet was an unnecessary and misleading one. Viewers are questioning the genuineness of content. It is getting even more frivolous as we read this.

News channels: Credibility and reputation at stake.

There are vicious rumours going around that content on news channels is being sponsored. We saw some concrete action by the authorities when two senior news journalists from a TV network were arrested for wrongdoing. It seems there are many men still standing, and this has seriously affected the credibility and reputation of news channels. As a viewer remarked, “If you want to relax and watch some fun, watch a news channel”. Nothing can be more demeaning for a news journalist. Newspapers have been a kickstart medium in the mornings, and news channels have now become a sign-off medium before you retire to bed. The other put-off for viewers is the celebration of negativity — be it death, destruction, rape, violence or any wrongdoing in society, taking the shape of ‘breaking news’.

Cable dark to data darkness.

The Government’s decision caused parts of the four metros to go cable dark. The digitisation drive ensured that all non set-top box homes converted immediately. The advertisers and the media agencies had a more torturous time as neither advertising nor media benchmarks could be measured as Television Audience Measurement or TAM (the monopolistic measuring agency) stopped data to media agencies under advice from the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF)/ Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI). The reasons could be as many as there are speculations. The fact stated is that data is being studied for variances, and corrections are imperative. The release after corrections will reveal whether advertisers and media agencies have been wise or taken for a royal ride. The advertisers and agencies are not pleased, and millions are invested to build brands using these benchmarks.

Digital in the media plan

A media plan without digital usage is not fashionable these days. Digital, even in an insignificant form, is a must. Clients love discussing digital nuances, and the big advantage they got from minor investments at cocktail circuits.

E-commerce and advertising

Business on the Net seems to be booming, and consumers have stopped being fence sitters. There are perfumes, after-shaves, sports shoes, jewellery, kitchenware, home furnishings and casual apparel being bought online. As a result many dot.coms have sprung up, and each has been innovative in its offering. The last quarter has seen an upsurge in media investments by six to seven players on high ticket media programmes.

“Exploitation of greed” below expectations

Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) didn’t turn out the way the media pundits had predicted. The reasons could be manifold. It could be the change from weekdays to weekends, or from changing the format of the programme. There was an overdose of the downtrodden and the rags-to-riches stories. Initially it seemed to be working, but too much of a good thing can be bad, and KBC was no expectation. Maybe this was also the reason that it saw hardly anyone in the ‘hot seat’ from the Southern states. Viewers moved on. Thanks to the stature of the presenter, and the way he conducted himself and the programme, KBC managed to remain in the mindset of advertisers.

BCCL redefines the rules of the age-old relationship

The old lady from Bori Bunder has always been fancied for having green dollars in her eyes but the new rules of engaging media agencies seems to be taking its toll. Cancellation charges if not cancelled within 10 days of the release seems to be a sore issue of dispute with advertisers and media agencies. It seems to be getting bitter and someone needs to hold the bull by its horns to prevent collateral damage.

No more advice for free

The best thing that happened in 2013 is that advertising and media agencies seems to have realised the futility of new business pitching. The best agency never won, but the best connected agency always did. So the advertiser’s game of calling the best brains and asking them to solve problems that they have been battling for years is over. This has raised hopes for all that maybe some lost respect and glory would come back into agencies. But experience has taught us that hope is never part of a strategy.

Gopinath Menon is CEO, Melon Media - Crayons Communications Group, New Delhi.

Published on January 03, 2013

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