The post tea-break session of the first day of the Annual South Asia Conference 2009 held by the International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA) at Le Meridien, New Delhi began with a panel discussion titled 'What top advertisers expect from print'.
The discussion was moderated by Bhaskar Das, executive president, The Times of India and the panellists comprised Pradeep Shrivastava, chief marketing officer, Idea Cellular; Santosh Nair, senior vice-president and strategic marketing officer, NIIT India; and Sandip Tarkas, president, customer strategy, Future Group India.
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Shrivastava said that at times, the mindset of an individual does result in the organisation failing to recognise an available opportunity. He admitted that decisions do turn out to be outcomes of some predictable response to frozen expectations. This is the point where both brands and the media owners need to come together to think and act 'big'.
He stressed that being a telecom player, he is very much in sync with the fact that Idea is not into the business of creating news. However, without doubt, with a large number of subscribers, it can serve as a distributor of news for various media, including print.
Nair of NIIT suggested that even with fast changing patterns of media consumption in the education sector, print still continues to account for almost 70 per cent of the media mix in any given advertising plan. This is so despite the fact that a majority of print players concentrate their energies on school education, in comparison to news or information related to college or higher education.
Opportunities for brands lie in increasing the focus of print media on college education, as well as rich content related to school education. At the same time, one has to take account of the fact that teenagers have more say in matters related to their career choices. One has to make full use of digital media to reach and influence the young crowd keeping these factors in mind.
Das turned to Tarkas to gauge the relevance of print media for a category such as retail, which is placed at the bottom of the pyramid and hosts lakhs of people at stores.
Tarkas said that print continues to be relevant to the retail sector as it denotes a sense of immediacy and provides enough room to create shopping environments relevant to retailers to attract prospective buyers.
Shrivastava seconded Tarkas by bringing out the fact that print is still the best bet for communicating in detail about, say, various value added services being offered by telecom players.
The moderator sought the reactions of the panellists on the resultant adversarial relationship shared between advertisers and media owners, with increasing expectations of deliverables, measurability, reduction in price and content coverage by clients.
Tarkas explained that despite increasing pressures on media owners, clients are not short sighted to realise that there are other variables to account for the success or failure of a communication other than the platform used. In case something does not work according to the expectation of a client, one needs to look into product, price and distribution as well.
He acknowledged that since the advertiser spends a lot of money, he does expect some returns on investments.
Nair drew attention to the fact that conflicts between client and media owners is a natural function of marketing and the relationship between the two is driven by growth, productivity and better results. A medium such as print continues to hold immense power to influence, owing to the fairness and sacredness associated with print, which is lacking in emerging media such as digital.
The panel members agreed that three forms of media, including bought media, earned media and owned media are evolving and have their own places in the advertising mix.
Bought media relates to buying space and carrying out innovations in publications and will continue to be relevant as these provide mass reach. Owned media, such as portals and microsites, provide good options for representation. Earned media such as Orkut and Twitter provide users and brands platforms for two-way communications.
The discussion concluded with Tarkas saying, "Ad spends and choice-use of media flows from the fundamental principle of maximum time spent by consumer on any given media and in that sense, print, for some time to come, will continue to hold advertisers' interests."