Mediaturf completes three years of operations on 5 June 2003

MUMBAI: Mediaturf Worldwide, the leading specialist online advertising agency which has a presence in India, is celebrating it's third anniversary on 5 June 2003. The agency cum consultancy firm has "really arrived" - it broke even in February 2002 in less than three years. It also has an impressive rooster of clients such as Intel, Prudential ICICI, MTDC, SET MAX, Voltas, Britannia amongst others. The agency also claims to be "worldwide" in its true sense as currently 30 per cent of it's business is on international sites/from international advertisers.

The Mediaturf blueprint was drawn up by Jan 2000 when Ishan Raina and V Ramani of EuroRSCG Advertising were approached by Neeraj Bhargava of Eventures (a Softbank promoted VC). The intention was to create a one-of-it's kind entity mixing the best of emerging global practices and traditional advertising strengths for Internet Advertising. The Indian arm started its operations in June 2000.

A press note says that Mediaturf was clearly focused on delivering value to the advertiser instead of buying and selling a commodity like site banner inventory. This approach along with investments in research, technology and most importantly the right people has held the company in good stead in the current media scenario.

The note adds that Mediaturf's decision to merge Media2India and Indiaeyeballs was a step in the direction of consolidation. It was seen as combining talent and leveraging strengths to build the Internet industry. It was a merger for strength, says the note.

EuroRSCG director V Ramani says: "Intel was Mediaturf's first account and till date it remains one of the most prestigious clients. Not only has Intel helped Mediaturf grow in terms of business, it has added tremendous knowledge in terms of approach to the medium and how to use it to one's advantage. We have gained immensely from exposure to their international best practices and have contributed to the same."

During the Internet boom, all the players started out on either the "Network Model" where they tied up with a number of websites and sold inventory for those websites, or the "Reseller Model" where buying inventory in bulk and retailing it with padded up margins was the focus.

Mediaturf, however, was quick to realise that the key to survive long term in the Internet advertising and marketing space was to operate with a "Brand Outword" approach. The brand and its needs is the core from which Internet strategy is derived. The Internet strategy in turn drives the activity recommendation, the site selection and the media plan.

The Mediaturf planning process revolves around the brand:

Stage I: The clients marketing and communication objective is matched to the unique audience, capability and delivery mechanisms available on the medium. The measurement metrics are also agreed to.

Stage II: The media plan is built up using proprietary research and indices that have been developed for the medium.

Stage III: Creative format decision and execution

Stage IV: Campaign implementation using the Double Click Ad Manager 4.1

Stage V: Real time campaign optimisation, monitoring and reporting based on live performance

Stage VI: Post campaign rigorous analysis and learning. This learning is incorporated back into the client/industry specific knowledge base as future inputs for all the Stages.

The core management team has developed three main sources of revenue

· Online advertising

· Creative

· Technology

Online advertising was the only source of revenue for Mediaturf, initially, where the agency got media commissions on online campaigns. The Mediaturf management felt that there were opportunities in creative and technology and today almost 25 per cent of the revenues are from creative and technology.

Ramani adds: "There have been serious players like Prudential ICICI, ICICI Bank, Intel, ING Vysya who have evaluated the medium for its strengths and continue using it to their advantage. As a category travel and even relevant FMCG brands are coming on to the Internet in a big way."

Mediaturf analysis shows that in the US, Internet accounts for anywhere between four per cent to five per cent of the total advertising spend. In South East Asia, the percentage is as high as 10 per cent. Even if it touches the five per cent mark in India, it is a potential Rs 5 billion per year medium. In India, it is currently less than one per cent currently (Rs 500 million in 2002). In the year 2003, the Mediaturf team expects the inflexion point to be when the medium reaches out to 25 million people.

Mediaturf received the Abby Award for Internet advertising in 2001 for Prudential ICICI AMC and the Abby Award for Internet advertising in 2002 for Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation. "However there is one campaign in particular that stands out - for Prudential ICICI Growth Plan, we did a 'Hand' creative for the Internet that was then used by the client across all other media - outdoor, print and TV. We believe this was the first time an Internet creative has been adapted for other media and not vice versa," says a proud Ramani.

Talking about the future, Ramani says that Mediaturf is looking at more investments in technology, research and people in the immediate future. "We are in an undisputed leadership position today and feel morally responsible to grow the medium and build the internet franchise. The Internet is at a stage today where it is about to explode. Ten years ago, Cable & Satellite exploded when it reached critical mass at 30 million. Internet should reach this figure in the coming 12 months," Ramani adds.

The next phase will also see a situation wherein clients would give Mediaturf their Internet AOR. "We already have the AOR for Internet business for seven prominent advertisers including Prudential ICICI Mutual Fund and ICICI Bank Homeloans and some other seasoned Internet advertisers are already in conversation with us as they plan their Internet strategies for the future. Some of these talks are close to fructification. We saw this as the obvious next step for advertisers and the results are there to see," says Ramani.


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