Sohini Sen

Ad Club Media Review: Retaining Audiences' Attention

Shashi Sinha, Meenakshi Menon, Punitha Arumugam, Pradeep Dwivedi and Sam Balsara discussed how stakeholders tackle the challenges arising out of audiences' partial attention in the digital age.

The Ad Club hosted the Media Review in Mumbai on Tuesday, July 21. A panel of eminent media persons took to the stage to discuss the topic under review - 'Is Anyone Listening?: How Did Ad and Media Industry Combat the Challenge of Continuous Partial Attention of Audiences?'. As part of the event, spokespersons from Taipei's AdAsia 2015 conference also presented their road show.

The highlights of the event included enlightening talks and presentations by Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India; Meenakshi Menon, managing partner, Spatial Access; Punitha Arumugam, former director, agency business, Google India, and Pradeep Dwivedi, chief corporate sales & marketing officer at Dainik Bhaskar Group.

Ad Club Media Review: Retaining Audiences' Attention
Ad Club Media Review: Retaining Audiences' Attention
Ad Club Media Review: Retaining Audiences' Attention
Ad Club Media Review: Retaining Audiences' Attention
Ad Club Media Review: Retaining Audiences' Attention
Menon started her discourse with a debate on the differences of opinion between an agency and its clients. According to Menon, an agency cannot continue to behave in the present way in the competitive age. She expressed her doubts about the numerous digital agencies in the industry today. While there are many agencies which have a digital unit, the truth, she said, is that neither the agency nor the client knows what is to be done with it.

"While I do not want Indian agencies to blindly follow the west, I do think we have a big opportunity in trying to reinvent the game," Menon said in her discourse.

According to a survey done by Menon's team, there are numerous reasons for any client to do a creative agency review. Majority of respondents said the reason for a review is usually the business performance, followed by a change in the marketing head. However, creative dissatisfaction and general reviews are also major reasons. Most CMOs are ambivalent to advertising, because the days are gone when they believed the advertising craft could actually impact sales of the product.

Menon's view is that even advertising professionals do not have faith and confidence in their own work now. If the client says it is a risky idea, more often than not, the agency also backs down. According to her, the client is often unsure of what he wants and needs. However, he is willing to step out of the comfort zone if the agency accompanies him; which means, the agency must have faith in its own idea. Menon concluded her talk by saying that discounting fee can only be an icing on the cake and never the sole reason for choosing a creative agency. "One must remember that the client is not here for the long term, it can change the agency, if it fails to show positive impact," she stated.

Pradeep Dwivedi presented his views on the dilemma surrounding the future of print medium. He accepted that the sheer proliferation of gadgets mean that everyone is bombarded with information and needs to sift through it and prioritise. In such a scenario, the need to rediscover print becomes all the more important.

Print, Dwivedi said, is a rational medium which lets readers absorb and engage. But, when it comes to building emotional appeal, brands prefer to take the audio-visual way. However, according to him, even print can be emotional. It lets brands enjoy non-partial attention, unlimited exposure and also can be displayed only to selective audience. The fact that regional print is growing stronger than English print, also seems to point to the direction where the print industry is going.

Shashi Sinha spoke about the need for a common unit of measurement According to Sinha, there are multiple challenges in the absence of one, standard way of measurement. Sinha feels that one can improve the media ROI and decrease the bane of partial attention by using correct measurement.

He elaborated on how the radio, television, digital and print industry have their own measurement bodies and systems (OOH, unfortunately has none), which are independent of each other. However, while that may sound good, the truth is that the lack of communication also leads to a lack of common measuring source and metric.

Punitha Arumugam took to the dais next and spoke about the need for all stakeholders to communicate and listen to each other. The brand, the media agency and the creative agency cannot work in silos, she said. And these three stakeholders must listen to the most important one of them - the audience. According to her, this can be achieved by the following points - leverage insights, investigate features, seek moments, think moon-shots or different from traditions, employ curious people and, finally, never stop being amazing. Together these form the word 'LISTEN' which is exactly what all stakeholders must do, to forge ahead, she said.

The event ended with a panel discussion which was moderated by Sam Balsara, chairman and MD of Madison World. The event itself was powered by Dainik Bhaskar and Colors was the presenting sponsor.

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