As slowdown bites, media agencies spend right

Written by Lalitha Srinivasan | Mumbai | Updated: Jun 30 2012, 08:13am hrs
As clients seek a lot more accountability for their media investments during the downturn, media buying and planning agencies are helping them eliminate wastage and make every rupee count.

Media agencies need to stay ahead of the curve," says CVL Srinivas, chairman of Starcom MediaVest Group, India, which handles media accounts of Samsung, Dabur India and Aircel. As digital media is gaining a lot of traction during the slowdown, the agency is recommending this mode of marketing to its clients. And clients need a lot of hand-holding here, he added.

When budgets are squeezed, eliminate wastage. In a slowdown, it is important to spend right rather than cut spends, said Vikram Sakhuja, CEO South Asia, GroupM, part of WPP Group, which handles the media accounts of of Hindustan Unilever and PepsiCo India, among others.

We have an integrated media planning tool to help our clients. Even without data fusion, we have made attempts at capturing cross-media reach. So, an integrated television, print, radio, cinema and out-of-home (OOH) plan that captures reach and cost per thousand (CPT) across media can make a more efficient plan during the slowdown, said Sakhuja.

According to the Ficci-KPMG report, ad revenues brought in an estimated R30,000 crore for the media industry across print, broadcasting and digital platforms in the year to 2011, up 13% from the previous year.

Many advertisers are slashing their ad budgets to cut costs in the last three months. The ad industry is expected to register only 6-8% growth this year, said an industry analyst based in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, RK Swamy Media Group has invested in media tools, processes, automation and training by which strategic planning decisions are becoming faster and will save costs in the long run, said Sandeep Sharma, president of the agency. We are suggesting a higher use of digital, online and social media, which ensures value for the client. In a slowing economy, it becomes so much more crucial as a media agency, to provide value-for-money solutions, he said.

Like RK Swamy Media Group, Aegis Media Group, which handles media accounts of Phillips and Adidas India, is also investing in research,& training programmes and media tools. Our focus is not on cutting costs, but to increase value of our services during the slow down, said Ashish Bhasin, chairman India & CEO South East Asia, Aegis Media Group.

On Madison Media's strategy, Gautam Kiyawat, CEO, Madison Media Group, said: There will be tradeoffs to be made to balance efficiency and support our long-standing media partners. We will continue to enable our clients to make smart and objective buying decisions."

Meanwhile, as part of an internal cost reduction exercise, Starcom MediaVest Group has slashed all its non-essential spending this year. We are prioritising our hiring to cover critical positions. And we are very selective about our recruitment this year, says Srinivas.