The second session of Day One at the Goafest 2011 held at Zuri White Sands, Goa, on April 7, addressed the lessons the advertising industry can draw from other service industries. The speaker list comprised Thomas Simon, vice-president and global head, HR - Talent Engagement, TCS, Sanjay Behl, chief executive officer, DTH and IPTV and president, brand marketing, Reliance, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, Farokh Balsara, partner and national leader, media and entertainment, Ernst & Young, and Arun Tadanki, managing director, Yahoo!. Nagesh Alai, president, AAAI, moderated the session.
Simon, who initiated the session began by stating an important similarity between the advertising and IT industries. He said, "The common aspect between these two industries is that both are about people, their biggest assets. To attract and develop talent is something both industries do, as it helps in creating value for the stakeholders involved."
Behl then proposed four tools that, in his opinion, may benefit the ad industry. "The first thing to get right is the proposition -- one needs to emphasise the experience of the service, as opposed to laying stress on its features," Behl explained, citing the example of how telecom players focus on the two core propositions that drive consumers' purchase decision -- network and reliable services.
Behl discussed various aspects of running a service agency, like any other business. According to Behl, finance management is a crucial aspect in the efficient functioning of an agency, as well.
Behl also explained why it is important to have an employee management framework. "In ad agencies, we see more of 'individual jerseys' than a 'team jersey'," Behl said. "Employee heroism needs to be checked; not everyone can be a hero. Teamwork is important."
Behl went on to state that employee management framework combined with customer management framework leads to value creation.
Balsara spoke next. He addressed three areas in which ad agencies need improvement -- business, people, and technology.
Regarding the business angle, Balsara said that ad agencies ought to go easy on specialised services and offer a single touch-point to clients. "Perhaps, it is time to stop adopting this Anglo-Saxon practice of breaking up agency services, as I'm not sure it works in the Indian context," said Balsara. He added that since we're a relationship-driven bunch, consolidation of an agency's services might be the key to better functioning.
Regarding the people angle, Balsara suggested that it might help to source talent from myriad backgrounds (such as professionals from overseas markets or people with a PSU background). He further stated that agencies would benefit if ad agencies stopped burdening their creative folk with too much administration-related work!
With respect to systems and processes, Balsara urged advertising professionals to upgrade their back-end processing technology and to improve the quality of their internal audit function.
Summing up his presentation, Balsara said, "Overall, agencies can do a much better job of marketing themselves than they are currently doing."
Tadanki concluded the session with one salient point. According to him, agencies need to differentiate their ad formats better. Earlier, consumers were targetted based primarily on gender, age or geography. Today, however, finer differentiation is possible. "For instance, we can target people based on their news reading habits," he said, claiming that this would lead to 'smart ads'.
Tadanki urged agencies to ask themselves whether they're offering different levels of services for different prices, and whether they are giving in too easily on their pricing in client meetings. He further said that agencies need to reach out to new customer segments and invest in growing categories such as digital and mobile.