Abhishek Chanda
Points of View

<span class="htext1"> How advertising has changed:</span> Traditional advertising is losing its sheen - Sameer Suneja

The millennium began with creation of specialists - media, creative, direct marketing and public relations and now each has a unique identity of its own

The new millennium is just nine years old and we have already seen two recessions and one big boom. We have seen banks crash, governments fall and England winning the Ashes twice. Consumer moods have swung from highs of consumerism, excesses of luxuries to savings, anti-capitalism and at times downright despair.

Advertising, which is about creating demand, also has undergone a complete transformation. The millennium began with creation of specialists - media, creative, direct marketing and public relations and now each has a unique identity of its own. Advertising agencies are on the way to becoming more accountable with remuneration based on performance. Advertising is no longer only responsible for brand health but is also expected to help increase sales.

<span class="htext1"> How advertising has changed:</span> Traditional advertising is losing its sheen - Sameer Suneja
Client-agency relationships have become more professional with agencies no longer able to hold on to an account just because of loyalties and emotions. Also, a client expects agencies to give strategic or marketing inputs rather than just make television ads. Another big change that has happened is 'communication' changing into 'conversation'. Traditional advertising is losing its sheen as it does not give a chance to the consumer to respond, neither does it listen. Brands today are being built upon word of mouth, blogs, viral marketing and social marketing. Facebook, Orkut, Twitter and Google are big brands today because they start conversations. This has changed the media approach, too. Today, slowly but surely brands are interacting on mobiles and social networking sites. Traditional agencies have been resisting this change as their forte has always been TV and print but today there are a lot of young creative firms who do great stuff on the internet and mobile. Crystal gazing into the future, soon communication strategies will be built keeping digital in mind.

In India, we are still comfortable with traditional media - TV, print and radio accounting for more than 80 per cent of the media spends. The biggest problem with traditional media is that consumers today have lots of choices for ad avoidance. Fragmentation is high and there is no scope of customised messages. On the other hand, digital advertising is being exploited by just a select few only while others are just paying it lip service. The other major change is the advent of DTH. In two years the category is already 16.3 million households strong. It is already firmly entrenched on the conversation route with value added services like matrimonial services, jobs and travel.

Soon it will have critical mass of interactions on value added services and brands will no longer be able to turn a blind eye. Gaming is another medium waiting to explode. A brand's communication is no longer limited to a black box of TV, print or radio.

In last 10 years the ad spends of brands have grown exponentially but communication effectiveness has come down. Brands today are more focused on competing with other brands on SOE (share of expenditure)/ SOV (share of voice) but nobody is concentrating on initiating a dialogue with the consumer. But marketers will soon have to learn the power of new mediums and start interaction with everyone. The new formula for success would be media-neutral, customer-led, personalised and will have plans for future interactions or dialogue.

To conclude, in the words of Alvin Toffler, "The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn."