21 Sep 2017
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BARC to measure all screens

MUMBAI: For advertisers to take BARC seriously and use it more often, the system will need to measure all screens. It will need to track consumers as they move from one screen to another whether it is TV, radio, print, digital, etc. The first step will be to have a single source and a single metric.

Speaking at The Ad Club’s Media Review that took place last night, IPG Mediabrands CEO Shashi Sinha noted that in the long term an industry body owning and running a measurement system has a better chance of reaching its goals than a private organisation does. He spoke about ‘Measuring Media in A Continuously Partial Attention [CPA] World’. The theme for the event was ‘Is Anyone Listening?’

He said that compromises are made in either situation. If a private enterprise runs a measuring system, then the profit motive is most important. Compromises are made. On the other hand, if an industry body owns and runs it, then measurement becomes about managing various stakeholders and the environment. Compromises are made here too. He noted that the problem is that all measurement tools are in silos. BARC is by itself. There is no common evaluation available.

BARC’s aim will be to have sharper targeting of media. “A single currency of evaluation is critical. Among other things, we need to capture concurrent, delayed consumption.” He also noted that for a single currency to succeed, differences among media owners will have to be kept aside. “What gets measured gets managed. Lack of measurement will hurt the industry,” he warned.

The agency can play a facilitation role in the long run. It was noted that agencies will be independent data providers. At the same time, subscribers to data like IRS are paying much more than before.

Meanwhile, Spatial Access founder-chairman Mennakshi Menon spoke about the relationship between agencies and clients. She noted that the current agency model is broken. “Today, clients are reviewing the agency model not just agencies. The model is broken. One needs to wake up. The ad model cannot behave like an ostrich,” she warned.

She noted that India is in a position to reinvent the game. India can understand the West without blindly imitating it. Clients today want more for less from agencies. At the same time, a discounted fee is not the key reason for clients to call for a fresh pitch and change agencies. “Reviews happen because of a client’s business performance. Companies live from quarter to quarter. It can also happen because of a change in the CMO. Agency tenure is declining. Relationships between clients and agencies are frayed. There is a perception that small, medium-sized agencies are more creative. There is an opportunity for them. Clients want to see a change in their agency without changing their agency.

“Clients are willing to pay a fair fee. However, an agency offers a discount to a client, when they see other clients also want discounts. Relationships between clients and agencies are transactional. It is not long term at both ends.”

Another challenge for agencies is that often their digital unit does not know what to do. Another issue is that clients at the start of a campaign are unsure of what they need or want. Therefore, a thought might look good on paper for a client, but after it is executed, the client is unhappy.

She noted that trust between a client and an agency leads to great advertising. She pointed out to research that showed what the two parties think of each other. Agencies say that clients do not understand their consumers. Clients say that agencies are more interested in selling ideas that will look for their portfolio rather than solving problems. Agencies on their part also say that clients are afraid to take risks.

She advised agencies to focus on interpersonal relationships. They should explain to clients the role of creativity. They should practise the art of business and advertising.

Google India director of agency business Punitha Arumugam dwelt on what each letter in the word ‘listen’ should stand for if agencies, broadcasters, media outlets and clients want to succeed. ‘L’ stands for leveraging insights. She gave the example of the work Google did with Dabur on brave and beautiful case study. A company that is over a 100 years old embraced digital advertising to have a deeper connect with their consumers. The ‘I’ stands for investigate features. This is built in products like Google.

Companies should also seek moments. They should also be thinking moonshots, meaning the ability to think differently. She offered the example of Google X. This is how it came up with the Google Self Driving Car Moments initiative. Google looks at a big problem and sees if a radical solution can be found. It also sees if there can be ethnological breakthrough.

The ‘E’ stands for employing curious people. For Google when it hires, it wants people who are curious and passionate about technology. When you make such hires, then innovations happen such as the Google Art Project that includes India and Google People Finder. Finally, the ‘N’ signifies never stop being amazing.

She noted that the agencies are a sad lot. They listen to everybody—the government, audit firms, clients broadcasters, etc. “The agencies are doing a fantastic job. We need to be applauded not criticised.”

She said that advertisers listen to several things. Some of them focus on data. Others listen to people who they know. Others listen to quarterly earnings and to their bosses. The fourth kind of listener listens to many things in parts and tries to do new things. Advertisers are a combination of these things with a focus more on one thing than on the others.

She put media owners into three groups. The first are arrogant. “Their attitude is I am No. 1. I need to get a higher CPRP. They are inward looking. The second are posturing. Their business is not doing well. However, they feel that if they speak appropriately to agencies and clients, then they will get their business. They sometimes adopt a posture that they don’t need the business.

“The third kind is Mr Really.” She cited the example of Colors CEO Raj Nayak. Incidentally, Colors sponsored The Ad Club’s Media Review. ‘Mr Really’ listens to what the agency wants and then charms them into accepting what the media owner wants. The agency or client only realises what has happened after the meeting is over and they look at the requirements wanted for the meeting.