Madison ventures into the open with MOMS

By , agencyfaqs!, na | In Advertising | January 09, 2002
In a bid to make outdoor media buying and selling more organized, Madison Communications has launched its outdoor media division - Madison Outdoor Media Services (MOMS)

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Madison Communications has formally launched its specialist outdoor media planning and buying division, Madison Outdoor Media Services (MOMS). 'Soft launched' in September 2001 with a share capital of Rs 1 crore, the division today has offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, and is actively seeking businesses.

Actually, for a fledgling initiative, MOMS has had a pretty decent run so far, and has completed 10 projects for blue-chip clients such as Coca-Cola India, Maruti Udyog, HBO, Nokia, Kinetic, VIP and Zee. "Although we launched MOMS in September, we decided to keep quiet about it till we had made sufficient progress," says Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director, Madison Communications. "The role that Madison Media plays in press, television, cinema and radio, MOMS will play in outdoor. There is tremendous opportunity in outdoor, and MOMS complements Madison Media's offering in television and press."

The reasoning behind the launch of MOMS is the unorganized nature of outdoor business, as it stands today, explains Balsara. "The outdoor industry in India is worth Rs 500 crore. And the majority of this business is conducted directly between the advertiser and hoarding owner/contractor. MOMS fits in purely because the conventional agency brings so little to the table - for both the advertiser, and the hoarding owner/contractor."

As Balsara sees it, the benefits that MOMS brings advertisers are a thorough listing of hoarding sites that are relevant to the advertisers' needs, and a benchmarking of rates. For the hoarding owners, there is the assurance of bulk business on marginal profit and timely payments. "The biggest problem for hoarding owners today is the settlement of dues. Credit periods get extended, and this eats into whatever profit they have made from a deal. What MOMS guarantees is payment on time, because the payment will be made either by the advertisers or MOMS itself. I can assure contractors that a 60-day credit period will not become a 120-day affair, as is the practice."

For its success, MOMS is banking heavily on the growth of outdoor, as a category. And Balsara appears certain that he wouldn't be disappointed. "Outdoor will grow in leaps and bounds," he insists. "With press becoming more and more expensive as the cost of newsprint goes up, and television becoming expensive due to fragmentation, outdoor is becoming a medium to reckon with. Also, with new technology, the cost of hoarding-per-square-foot has come down drastically, from Rs 200 some time ago to as low as Rs 50 per sq ft."

The outfit promises relevant value-add to advertisers, as it has seasoned outdoor professionals on board. "The company is headed by Anup Jalan, CEO, who has been in this business for many years, and has a thorough knowledge for the outdoor landscape," Balsara says. "And the rest of the team is a mix of professionals who were hoarding contractors, or buyers of outdoor media. MOMS has already developed in-house tools for both planning and buying, and in the near future, we hope to offer more scientific data - like reach and OTS - so that advertisers can buy outdoor with greater confidence."

The big question is, why have a specialist outdoor division when Madison Media already exists? "Outdoor is a different kettle of fish - the kind of skills required to buy outdoor are vastly different from other media." Balsara answers. "You can buy press or television across the nation by sitting in a room. Databases and fact-sheets exist. Not so in outdoor, where there are hundreds of small-scale hoarding operators who have to be dealt with on a one-to-one basis. Here, databases have to be created. Also, we felt an independent company would do better justice in meeting the ambitious targets Madison has set itself."

Till now, MOMS has worked primarily with Madison clients - on ad hoc projects. But the aim is certainly to grow out of Madison Media's shadow. "Our endeavour is to work for clients on a contractual, long-term basis - either on commission, or on a flat fee," Balsara adds.

Having an independent P&L and independent clients also means dealing with brands that conflict with existing Madison Media clients. And that could be tricky. Balsara thinks not. "MOMS approaches each of its clients with individual offerings and terms of relationships. It's an independent company, so there shouldn't be any reason for conflict. Clients can buy outdoor under a single roof with confidenceÖ and with single-point accountability." ¬© 2002 agencyfaqs!

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