Partnerships for sharing costs, risks will inspire innovation

MUMBAI: An innovation must result in the development of a successful business model at an appropriate time. These words by Madison Communications CMD Sam Balsara summed up the discussions during the session on "Innovations..The name of the game after CAS? What kind?" at The National CAS Media Summit 2003 organised by at Mumbai's Hyatt Regency Hotel on 4 July 2003.

The general consensus was that broadcasters, advertisers and ad agencies must join forces to share risks and costs in order to implement innovations. SABTNL president (sales) Kanta Advani pointed out that broadcasters have started making efforts to join hands with ad agencies and advertisers. CEO Anil Wanvari moderated the session that panelists such as SABTNL president (sales) Kanta Advani; Madison Communications CMD Sam Balsara; MindShare Fulcrum MD Vikram Sakhuja; BroadMind national director Suku Murti.

Here, we present some excerpts from the discussions.

Madison CMD Sam Balsara

The launch of Zee TV in the early 1990s is an ideal example of an innovation in the broader sense. An innovation must result in the development of a successful business model at an appropriate time.

Our proprietary research indicates that TV viewing remains static during different time bands. People will watch the best available fare.

The immediate short term (one year) will provide opportunities for FTA channels. FTA channels have to generate good content and this is a challenge for them. FTA channels should be supported in their drive for content. Ad agencies, clients must capitalize on this opportunity and be prepared to share risk with the broadcasters. The entire chain has to share the risk. We had taken this risk long back with the afternoon show Shanti on Doordarshan that was sponsored by Godrej. It created a whole new audience and redefined the concept of prime time. This was innovation too. Ad agencies will have to take the lead or else an outside trader will grab the opportunity.

Cable channels is an opportunity lost as ad agencies haven't really understood their true potential.

In the medium term, broadcasters with niche content will do well. There will be real innovation in terms of focused channels such as fitness channels, health channels, game show channels amongst others. All these channels will be targeted at a certain kind of audiences and there will be takers. Also, powerful content ideas with low content costs will become the order of the day.

Broadcasters will need to unlearn. A programme such as Rajani or Buniyaad made more impact and delivered greater value than a Kyunki Saas Bhi….does now. Broadcasters have to understand that advertisers don't make huge profits or get high returns from placements of ads.

Media planners and buyers will also have to unlearn because the standard marketing formula is dead. There will be no single solution that will fit all the needs. CAS will take segmentation to greater heights. There is a great opportunity for little but measurable fragmentation.

Media planners and buyers who have failed to don the mantle of "media consumers" have given advertising a bad name. They have added to the kitty of broadcasters and stopped being media professionals. They earned themselves the tag of "TAM rating consumers".

In the long term (five years), if CAS becomes a success, then convergence will become a reality. CAS will become the catalyst for convergence. However, nothing will change overnight.

Our initial feeling that CAS couldn't have been successfully implemented in the original way in which it was conceived seems to have been proved right. An innovation needs a strong road map. Why is so much importance being given to television sector when the media stocks contribute to less than five per cent of the total stock market capitalization?

CAS or no CAS, the time has come to introspect and move up the value chain. Ad agencies must realize that their clients have grown because they had the inclination to take risks and experiment. It is time ad agencies start doing so too.

MindShare Fulcrum MD Vikram Sakhuja

Innovation will become more evolved during the era of choice driven control.

However, there is a huge opportunity as a data gateway will enter the households for the first time in a decade. Yes, CAS households will be a subset of the C&S homes but will have access to two remote controls. The last mile capability will encourage different behaviours and this trend will have to be measured.

The key aspects will be interactivity and interconnectivity.

Till now, media planners and buyers have been thinking in terms of "cost per reach point" and "cost per rating" point. Post CAS, they will have to give respect to "cost per action point."

Viewers will be empowered to seek out, choose - similar to the manner in which present day Internet surfers behave. Ways will have to be found to address focused or segmented viewers; to devise a stimulus that has to elicit response; to create integrated communication solutions in the true sense; to lure the viewer who will be passive to programmes that he doesn't want. The communication has to stand out.

Till now media planners and buyers have equated innovation with "marrying message with the medium". They must elevate their thinking and take it to the next frontier with out of the box thinking. Customised plans are the order of the day. Media planners must come up with alternative media plans.

Broadcasters need to think in terms of unique content ideas and deliver the same at lower costs. Broadcasters have to work on smaller viewer bases. The Big Ticket items will come from programmes that appeal to the lowest common denominator - such as cricket or an idea such as KBC.

The Indian television ad pie that is valued at Rs 32 billion involves ad spends of 3000 brands. There are very few brands that spend more than Rs 100 million. The fragmentation is detrimental to the interest of advertisers.

BroadMind national director Suku Murti

Smart marketers have realised the need to go beyond TRPs and GRPs. They are asking for ways to strengthen and supplement their ad spends. The market has to move beyond the obvious.

There is a need for broadcasters and publications to come out with integrated offerings - The Times of India group has already started doing so.

TV buying in India hasn't progressed much.

Channel subscription packages will become part of the offerings during brand promotions. For instance, buy a television and get Star Plus subscription free for a year so on and so forth.

Value added services through the set top box will provide a whole range of opportunities.

Yes, there is logic in sharing costs and risks.

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