When Lynn & #BANNER1 & # de Souza, Ravi Kiran, Vikram Sakhuja, Shashi Sinha and Sam Balsara sit under the same roof, media magic is bound to happen. At the Media Review 2008 organised by the Advertising Club Bombay, the five media agency heads spoke on the topic for the evening, 'Media: Unstoppable, or Unsustainable?'.
Lynn de Souza, chairman and chief executive officer, Lintas Media Group
Lynn de Souza, chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group was first on the dais and spoke on the developments in the television and radio space. She said that TV viewing homes increased from 93 million in 2006 to 100 million in 2007, while multi-TV homes increased by 16 per cent during the same period. 74 new TV channels found their way onto the Indian TV landscape (adding up to 447 channels currently), and there was a 30 per cent increase in advertising seconds. The highlight of the year was Rs 10 crore spent on a single day, on 5704 spots, with 1.4 lakh seconds of commercial time and over 600 GRPs - all to announce the transition of Hutch to Vodafone.
Moving away from controversies, de Souza said that people are hard-pressed for time and want entertainment in everything. "Meeting these requirements was a tiger on the Indian television landscape last year - the DLF Indian Premier League," she said. Perhaps the success of the IPL is an indication that short formats will rule television and that sheer entertainment (in this case, good cricket, celebrities, gossip and cheerleaders) works. She added, "Further, IPL was the perfect example of a global/universal show, with artistes from all over doing their bit." The radio industry, too, is looking positive with radio adding 7.2 million listeners in 2007. With 260 FM stations across 93 towns, things are looking up. Further, de Souza said that advertising seconds have doubled while revenues have also increased.
Vikram Sakhuja, chief operating officer, GroupM South Asia
"There will be high bids for airports, railways and other premium inventory," Sakhuja said. As far as activation is concerned, the advent of screens is a big development. Today, there are over 10,000 activation screens in India in the shopping environment, lifestyle/gaming environment, eateries and pubs. Also called last point TV, these help reach a difficult target group (TG) and are good frequency builders. However, Sakhuja advised creative heads to tailor make creatives for these which don't extend beyond 10 seconds and provide a call to action. For ambient, Sakhuja felt that metros will remain crowded; non-metros are an opportunity. Billboards will give way to street furniture and measurement is a huge opportunity, Sakhuja opined.
Sponsorships (which traditionally means the rights a brand acquires to associate with a property) is a Rs 2700 crore game, divided into TV sponsorships (Rs 1900 crore) and on-ground (Rs 600 crore). Cricket is the biggest contributor (Rs 850 crore) followed by movies, music, dance, fashion and movie award shows. There are title sponsors, ground sponsors and on-air sponsors - and that's only the tip of the iceberg. "Usually, the ratings of the previous series is the determinant of the next game," Sakhuja stated. Other sports constitute a smaller booty of Rs 50 crore, including Formula1, tennis and football, among others.
Movie Awards (a Rs 100 crore sponsorship space) command Rs 3-4 crore for title sponsorships. Blockbuster sponsorships on television account for Rs 435 crore. Sponsoring international format shows is like a 'Matka' or a gamble, Sakhuja said, as it is risky business and may not pay off. Then there are the targeted sponsorships (in fashion shows or youth shows such as MTV Roadies) which are a much bigger payoff than the rest. "Sponsorships help brands leverage a passion bigger than the brand onto themselves," Sakhuja concluded.
Shashi Sinha, chief executive officer, Lodestar Universal
Sinha also spoke of emerging segments: niche publications are the name of the game and help deliver more segmented/targeted readers to advertisers. There were over 20 new niche publication launches in 2007, but interestingly, these did not include any sports oriented magazines/supplements. The entry of international players such as Conde Nast will lead to improved production quality and access to global content. "However, niches have low reach and high cover prices," Sinha said, which is another debate altogether. On the fourth point - emerging digitisation - Sinha said that digital as a medium will enhance print and not replace it. Lastly, Sinha spoke of emerging revenue streams for print owners. By venturing into other arenas such as television or outdoor, things are going towards a 360 degree offering to advertisers. "But we're not doing justification to this. In a bid to offer everything, we are spreading ourselves too thin," Sinha concluded.
Ravi Kiran, chief executive officer, South Asia, Starcom MediaVest Group
On the negatives of digital, Kiran frowned upon too much experimentation in the medium by clients, despite eight years having passed since the dotcom bust. "Why are we still experimenting?" he asked. "People often do digital, but don't have a strategy." Intrusive elements such as site captures, for instance, are big right now, which shouldn't be the case. "Most clients don't know what to do on digital; others expect too much just because it is measurable," Kiran declared. "Don't kill the medium by over-demanding," he concluded.
Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director, Madison World
Balsara said, "We must question, who are the media agencies ultimately working for? Channel owners are becoming large advertisers themselves, and trust me, when they don the hat of an advertiser, they become even more demanding for lower rates." Next, media agencies should revise their business models and not feel shy to ask for what they deserve, particularly regarding remuneration. A client credit and process rating system should do it. Digitisation of processes and finding appropriate talent were some of the other things he mentioned. He concluded his talk by addressing media owners. He said, "Your media agency acts as your collection agent, evangelises your new ventures and shows with advertisers, gives you a wide reach with advertisers and encourages these advertisers to take risks. Finally, if the media agency weren't there, you'd miss out on your favourite whipping boy or girl."