For Ratnakar Rai, manager director, Prime Time-IP Media Services Ltd, life seems to have come a full circle. From a situation where his media marketing company (formed in 1985) seemed content doing television ad sales for DD and STAR TV (during its early days between 1992 and 1994) to rethinking his business strategy all over again, coupled with the painful process of re-invention, has been both exciting and challenging indeed.
As Rai himself puts it, "The process of change really, began in 1996-97, when we did some internal soul searching to figure out our options besides television (TV has been a dominant area of operation for the company). We were looking to provide differentiators or value additions and realised that the outdoor medium was our best bet."
The reasons? "Outdoor gives you size thereby ensuring advertiser interest. Besides, it is highly fragmented with the credibility of information doubtful. Moreover, there is no professional delivery mechanism in the business, raising a number of question marks in the process," explains Rai.
The company saw an opportunity to plug these loopholes through an online database that took two years to construct. "Well, after having zeroed in on our objectives, the task was to set the process in motion, which we did between 1998 and 2000, by developing, a database of 20,000 sites across 42 cities. To this end, we employed three external field research agencies, putting in a rigorous system of back checks and random checks, to ensure that the information was credible and authentic."
Over time, the company through its outdoor venture, PrimeOutdoors (launched in 2000) has been scaling up operations in terms of width (that is, the number of town/cities included in the database) and depth of information including vital details such as the visual of the site (long as well as close-up shots), site-map and physical description of the site based on 18 to 20 parameters.
Apart from addressing the core issue of providing credible information, the company has also focused on the ease of availability, by leveraging technology in the process. "The database has been loaded on to a software and is available online," he avers. "This means that an advertiser can get necessary details, sitting in the comfort of his office."
In fact, the greatest advantage to advertisers while using the database is its ability to plan and execute an outdoor campaign in multiple cities, claims Rai. "Our revenues are generated by transacting this model," he asserts. "Our front-end or media sales team goes beyond cracking deals by actually doing a media plan for the client, which is then handed over to the operations or field team (also called the back-end team) to execute appropriately."
Advertisers can also monitor the progress of the campaign online, which, incidentally is the third spoke in the wheel for PrimeOutdoors. "We realise that the outdoor business is an activity-prone business with a number of layers or processes to be tackled before actual completion. Which is why, we've put a process-management system in place to ensure that there is some method in the madness.
Developed by an external process management consultancy titled Qualteam, the result of this meticulous implementation is "control of the various activity points, identification of accountability levels and establishment of benchmarks". It also captures deviations from these benchmarks and throws up the resources required to actually meet the deadline, he says.
With 50-odd campaigns running across the country and clients such as TVS Motor Co, NDDB, Telco, Whirlpool and Hyundai, Rai seems upbeat about his business model, claiming that the next step for his team is to integrate a vendor database into the central system through an interfacing software. "We've also prototyped another medium, namely cinema, borrowing heavily from our outdoor experience," he re-iterates.
He points out, verticals or services in other areas such as radio or Internet cannot be ruled out. "We plan to close the year at Rs 25 crore and are pretty confident that we can achieve it," he adds. © 2002 agencyfaqs!