afaqs! news bureau
The Planner’s Special

"The planner is almost a marketing resource for the brand"

An interview with Amol Dighe, CEO, Madison Media Ultra & Head Investments. This is part of a special series of conversations with media agency heads - interview 18 of 31.

What, in your view, was your agency’s best campaign of 2019? What about it impressed you?

Saffola World Heart Day. While it’s done every year, Saffola highlighted the importance of a healthy heart and, importantly, made people take the ‘heart ka exam’ test on the brand’s live portal. This gave them the real picture of their ‘heart health’. OTT platforms actually went ahead and asked audiences not to skip their sleep to binge-watch content, as lack of sleep is one of the key reasons for heart problems. Also, a moment of experience was created on newspaper jackets in HT, when readers were asked to choose lifestyle habits using a toothpick!

In 2020, what is that big trend that ought to concern or excite media agencies?

Consumption of content on digital. There is a rapid change in the way content is being consumed on digital; OTT platforms are the new TVs. With superior content and customised screens, media agencies will have to look at a new planning paradigm.

In the context of media planning/buying, what’s the one global practice/trend India will do well to catch up with fast?

Multi-screen planning and buying. How do we establish a single currency across various screens to normalise viewing? This is something we have to crack at the earliest as agencies could lose potential audiences especially on OTT media.

From a media spend perspective, which product groups do you suppose will be most affected by the economic slowdown that has crept up on us – and least?

Telecom, definitely, as the industry is going through a very rough patch due to losses, taxation, etc. Also, the auto segment will not continue to see the momentum of spends it did in the last five to six years. FMCG will continue to spend as there will be volumes to garner. And new categories, like OTT, will also invest for higher subscriptions and eyeballs.

And within that, what consumption trends are you seeing in rural versus urban markets?

Rural markets are impacted most due to weather conditions and crop failures. They have driven consumption until now but that has slowed down considerably. While we’re hopeful that rural markets will recover, it will take some time. For the economy to recover rural has to drive consumption; urban markets have, maybe, reached a level of saturation.

In the next 12 months, the solution to the digital ad fraud menace will come from…

I think a consortium of publishers will have to come forward and invest in solving this menace. The only solution is to develop high-end technology to control this phenomenon.

What kind of specialisation/talent is missing in media agencies today?

Two types: One is strategic brand understanding. I believe the brand planner is almost a marketing resource for the brand and has to be as close to the brand as the marketing manager is. That talent needs to be revived. The second is medium-neutral brand custodians. We need talent that can look at the entire gamut of media and not just approach it as traditional versus digital. That bifurcation should end.

I wish clients would…

Look at partner agencies for business growth and not just from a commercial value perspective. Also, I wish freedom of creativity to deliver more effectiveness is encouraged.

Note: This interview was conducted for the mid-March edition of our magazine afaqs!Reporter. It is a special issue dedicated to the top media planning and buying executives, who service some of India's largest advertisers. Market conditions have changed dramatically since this interview was first written and any apparent obsoletion therein must be seen in that context. To read/download all 31 interviews, please click here.

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