Initiative Media, BBC World track consumers' ad tastes

Initiative Media and BBC World have concluded a study on consumers' attitudes towards advertising and its relevance to media.

The study, whose findings will be released on Saturday, is the first of its kind in the country, claim the two companies. Christened Initiative Media - BBC World AdWatch 2002, this research helps to understand the synergies that arise while considering Brand Communication (Advertising) in conjunction with the Media selection. Initiative Media has now set up a Centre for Media Excellence (CME), to be headed by Partha Ghosh and Dinesh Kithany, to conduct other studies of this nature and to provide meaningful media research to its clients. The company has also recently launched a suite of the world's latest media softwares like IMprove, IMphase, IMRadar and several others this year. Some of these softwares evaluate over a million spot options, within 30 seconds, before deciding on a spot, says the company.

The key findings of Adwatch 2002 include -

· Consumers in India are as positive about advertising as those in the US and other European markets.

· In India, positive attitude towards advertising is more prevalent amongst women, middle and lower social class.

· Mumbai consumers are comparatively more positive towards advertising than the Delhi ones.

· Consumers do sense an increase in advertising volumes, but this does not yet elicit a negative response.

· Upper and middle class are more affected by 'too many ads' than lower socio class.

· Females as well as elders use ad breaks as an opportune moment to do other chores.

· Visual appeal, humour and creativity encourage Mumbaiites to watch ads. In Delhi, it's primarily due to creativity, relevance and music.

· Print ads appear more boring, uncreative and irrelevant.

· Ad avoidance is starting in India too. The level of ad avoidance is quite low as yet, across all media, except Internet.

· Correlation does exist between behaviour and attitude. The more a consumer likes an ad, the less he/she avoids it.

· Some bad ads can lead consumers to avoid all advertising. · Consumers in Asia describe good advertising in simple terms :

…. Fresh, Entertaining

…. Tells a story

…. Respects their intelligence

…. Relevant (character, brand)

In depth personal interviews were carried out in Mumbai and Delhi amongst all adults (15+ years) and across socio economic classes for the purpose of the study. More than 700 interviews were conducted to understand the consumers' perception towards advertising, their interpretation of 'good' ads and its relevance to the product. Consumers were profiled on their media habits and ethnicity.

This research was carried out during December 2001 - March 2002. The findings were then compared across USA, UK, Europe, and other Asian markets. "If people enjoy the advertisement, it is more likely that they will remember to act upon it. Some bad ads can lead the consumer to avoid all advertising. It is thus critical to raise the overall industry standards. While we all relate to this on a common sense level, it's the first time in India a study has been conducted that monitors consumers' attitudes towards advertising and media," says Ashish Bhasin, president of the Rs 900 crore media buying and planning giant.

"Brand advertising will have a harder role to play due to increasing clutter and media fragmentation. The greatest challenge for a media planner today is to ensure 'effective meetings' of the brands with the consumers." says Partha Ghosh, Associate Vice President, Initiative Media. This study, says Ghosh, is not for sale but is exclusively available to Initiative Media clients and its key media partners. It also includes an IM Media - Communication Matrix, an unique guideline for Media Planners, which helps them fine-tune their plans in line with consumers' attitude towards communication in general and strategic media issues in particular. This is available across demographic segments. Initiative Media says Adwatch 2002 will be followed by Adwatch 2003 to help the industry to identify emerging consumer trends.

Clients will not only benefit from the insights thrown up in this research, but they will have access to the learning and experiences gathered across other global markets. This would make them better prepared to meet the future of advertising with a view to maximizing their returns.

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