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GoaFest 2008: Creating value for the ad industry

By , agencyfaqs!, Goa | In Advertising | April 04, 2008
The final session at the Ad Conclave saw the panelists offer word of advice for the advertising industry body

Why is the younger IT industry much bigger than the advertising industry? What can Indian advertising industry learn from the IT experience?

The Ad Fest Conclave at the GoaFest brought in a combination of NASSCOM chiefs and a veteran advertising person to shed light on how the advertising industry body should evolve to create value for the advertising industry.

Pramath Sinha of 9.9 Media moderated the session which included speakers such as Kiran Karnik, and Saurabh Srivastav of the NASSCOM; and Ranjan Kapur, country head India, WPP.

Sinha opened the floor for discussion with the query: where are we as an industry today? Making a comparison, Srivastav drove home the point that the challenges faced by the advertising industry today are, more or less, similar to the hurdles that the IT sector crossed back in 1988 when it was struggling to make a mark.

Reminiscing, he said it was a challenge to create value in the global market as there was a major image problem. The global clients would have a hearty laugh if any Indian software company suggested offering them services. It took a combination of baby steps and some rigid changes to bring the change we see today. From those struggling days, when the business model was not right, to today, the IT industry body has come a long way. It learned from the mistakes, evolved; created a much bigger market, and created a brand.

According to him, the Indian advertising industry body could borrow a leaf from the NASSCOM experience and form a body. It needs to learn from its own mistakes and evolve. Keeping in mind that it is difficult to create an industry body than creating an agency, it needs to be strong, outward looking, capable of bringing the members together, predict trends, and be the leader.

Adding a dash of criticism, Karnik said that going by the discussion that took place throughout the day, it seems that the Indian advertising industry is inward-looking. It needs to have a much wider perspective. Kapoor agreed - according to him, it is time now for the industry guys to step out of the self-congratulatory mode. Citing some statistics, he adds: despite the advertising expenditure in India being 0.4 per cent of the GDP (it is higher than the global 0.1 per cent) the Indian advertising market is heavily underutilized. Despite the strong 300-billion middle class consumer base, we are still an under advertised nation. There is great potential which needs to be tapped.

The industry body needs to look at macro sides of the business and set some goals. If we become the third largest economy of the world, the industry should at least strive to become the third largest advertising sector of the world - by all standards.

Karnik ended the session by offering a few words of advice to build up a stronger advertising community. It makes sense to build a road map - for instance, a 10-year plan. It also makes sense to set aside inflated egos and take up issues that bother the industry as a whole - issues such as talent retention. While internal competition is good, the industry as a whole should draw boundaries and act responsibly.

The general consensus was that the sector needs to do a lot of introspection and design its own boundaries and find its own solutions to the problems that crop up.