Note to readers: Media Mavens is a new Storyboard18 series featuring media investment firms and power players - the X-Women and X-Men who make the big calls on how and where to spend advertisers' money. This is a peek into their minds - how they work in a dynamic landscape, the next big trends they’re watching for, insights into what advertisers need today, the disruptions driving change and the factors driving their decisions. Watch this space for all that and more.
It’s been two quarters since ratings are back, which has spelt good news for media planners and buyers especially as we get into the great Indian festive season or the Golden Quarter, as it is known in the marketing world. Overall there is a lot of media buying happening in the television ecosystem where planners are looking at a long list of factors such as reach, affinity, engagements and integrations before spending any ad money. But that’s not all. The media landscape is fast-changing and through our new series - Media Mavens, we decode the shifts that matter.
Amol Dighe is CEO, Investments and Business Development at one homegrown media investments company Madison Media. In an interaction with Storyboard18, Dighe talks about how planning and buying is quickly becoming media neutral and tells us how the return of ratings has helped in decision-making.
Are you happy with the return of BARC ratings?
This has been a big relief. It always helps to have the measurement mechanism for decision making. Ratings form the basis on which decisions on channel selection and spends are made. However, factors like affinity and reach cannot be ignored.
BARC ratings are back but there has been a change in measurement methodology. Do you think that has impacted ratings?
When the ratings were back, we saw a change in the pecking order of News channels. Some channels dropped in ratings while some channels saw an increase in their ratings. We are still seeing a fluctuation where the final pecking order does not seem to be settled as of now. We will have to continuously monitor the trends and performance of the category. So yes, managing the flux will be challenging.
We understand ratings are important but what are the other factors that help you choose one channel over the other?
As I said, performance of the channel in terms of ratings forms the basis on which decisions on channel selection and spends are made. Then there is reach and affinity which is also critical. Other factors like what is the kind of value the channel offers to the brands in terms of special deals, integrations, activation etc, which also determine the share of investment the channel gets. For example, if the brand associates with the channel for an Impact property with content integration etc, then naturally the share of spend on that particular channel will be higher. So, spending on a channel will depend on what role the channel plays for the Brand, in addition to the ratings it garners.
Secondly, trade feedback also becomes important for channel selection. Feedback from various market or consumer surveys in a particular geography are also considered while selecting a channel.
After the ratings returned there was a lot of shuffling in terms of rankings. What about rates?
When the ratings were back, we saw a change in the pecking order of news channels. Some channels dropped in ratings while some channels saw an increase in their ratings. We are still seeing a fluctuation. As buyers, this needs to be keenly watched and deals will be dynamic till this settles down.
Everyone is always talking about reach but are ad rates and reach directly proportional?
As we have seen, News Channels are not major reach builders. They add some reach in some brand TG’s but the role is largely for building frequency. Combination of factors like frequency, trade pull, affinity, network strength etc., determine the final rates for the news category.
With the festive season round the corner what are the factors you are considering while doing business with a broadcaster? Any genre that is leading the charts?
News Channels should focus more on reach and increasing share of ‘organic content’ and reduce the share of sensational content. They should make the environment more conducive to get more brands on board. They should also try to make News genre attractive for the female by marketing news as an all adult category
News channels could well focus on reach by increasing share of organic content and focusing on monetizing their marquee anchor shows and non FCT elements especially during festivals.
Demand and supply estimation especially during the festive season is critical. Many of the channels have impact properties to leverage the festive demand and the demand for regular inventory is also high. As smart buyers, we have to navigate these challenges to ensure visibility for brands.
What are the big trends in GEC, especially with the festive season just around the corner? Between GEC and Sports, who has an upper hand during the festive season and why?
There is a lot of action happening in the festive season especially in the GEC and the sports genre. Marquee shows like KBC, Jhalak have already started with Big Boss etc, slated to launch shortly. These shows are big opportunities for brands to build saliency, awareness and launch new communication etc., during the festive season. Also, there are big blockbusters planned during the festivals which help. Brands can ride on the heavy promotion and leverage these properties by product integration, etc.
Ditto with Sports. A packed cricket calendar during the festive season is good news for brands which are heavy on sports. The Asia Cup, Bilateral Series followed by the World Cup is ample enough opportunity for brands.
Are there any big pandemic trends that have continued? With the stay-at-home crowd now out of home, what are the differences in spending patterns that you’ve seen?
Largely, things have settled down. Things are back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of planning. However, dip ratings across genres is a worrisome trend as that’s impacting deliveries.
With digital and an ever-evolving ecosystem how has the role of the media planner and buyer evolved over the years?
We have seen how digital has evolved so quickly and has become a strong medium for advertisers according to all the media reports. It’s no longer a support medium and has become one of the leading mediums. It’s challenging and at the same time exciting for planners and buyers to build plans now. A lot of creativity and out of box thinking is put in when plans are made now. Bundled deals, integrated deals are in the offering and Networks also have realized that integrated deals are the need of the hour now. Planning and buying is becoming media neutral, which is the right direction.
What are the big trends to watch out for?
With more and more cricket being telecast, it will be critical to monitor the impact on viewership on other genres. Also, it will be interesting to see how the digital medium leverages sport in tandem with TV.