With nearly 25 years of experience, she has worked as part of the leadership team at Star, Turner and HBO. Her efforts were validated when she was recognized as ‘Next 30’ most powerful women to look out in 2010; and was also adjudged as one of India’s hottest young executives of the media industry in 2009 by Business Today and adjudged amongst the top 50 influential women in media, marketing and advertising by a leading industry magazine - IMPACT in 2012 and 2014. She has also received Women Leadership award by World Women Leadership Congress in 2014. She was judged amongst India’s top 100 important people in the industry by Digital Studio a leading magazine in Broadcasting and Production.
Markathon: Do you think “aggressive marketing campaigns “ can hamper the long term positioning of a company or a product?
I think there is not a yes or a no to that, it also depends upon how we are defining aggressive marketing in a given scenario and it also depends upon what the objective of the marketing campaign is. Sometimes you are launching a new product or a new proposition, at that time aggressive marketing is important because you need to get that message across through a large base of consumers and then you need to come up with a marketing strategy that caters to that aspect of the consumer behaviour. Although sometimes there is a launch of a product variant of a product that exists in the market or there is launch of a new season of a T.V series that is already existing, then aggressive marketing is both a waste of money and effort. So you really need to identify the objective of your campaign and create communication accordingly, thus I think the answer to your question would vary situation to situation.
Markathon: In case, for an existing brand, the brand recognition is already quite high, then in that case, do you think aggressive marketing would be a good move?
I don’t think we can ever be judgemental about a marketing campaign till we know about its core objectives, as in the present case, may be it is expected out of the brand to be constantly present in the consumer’s mind because it is a very competitive market and constant brand recall or brand presence it required to convert sales. If this is the market scenario then consistent efforts of communication are required. But if it’s not the case than there is definitely a threat of overkill, because every campaign has a tipping point and beyond that point it is a waste of money and energy. That is why, it is very important that you are very dynamic in your approach. You should have clear objectives in your mind and although you have set of goals and targets to achieve, you need to be flexible about them. Like in my experience, I have witnessed that at times, although the marketing budget was set for 2-3 weeks but the required GRPs (gross rating points) was not achieved in that, then you need to extend the campaign or in some cases if it is achieved before time than you should be bold enough to understand that although you have a budget, it would make more sense to ease out right now. So you need to keep evaluating your campaigns regularly, especially if the mediums are as dynamic as digital media or television.
Markathon: How do Television channels segment and target their audience? So how a channels segments and targets depends upon the genre.
For eg. Hindi entertainment channels are usually very focused about their target audience. It is usually between the age group of 25-55 and it usually SEC BCD. So now they would be very focused about this target audience, now if SEC A men or SEC A women watch their channel than its good , but still they will create content which appeases their target market. If they are missing on SEC A OR Apus, they don’t mind. While an English channel usually focusses on male 22-45, majorly SEC A or SEC A plus. Now their content would be completely different and the kind of movies or shows they would run on that channel would be usually in sync with their overall targeting. So it completely depends upon the genre we are talking about. Like entertainment channels have cut out a different audience, sports have it differently, news channels have it differently and then they work out their content accordingly. Advertisers slot their advertisements in a similar fashion, if their target audience is women of majorly SEC BCD, then they will probably slot it in a Hindi entertainment channel during a show that matches their exact specifications.
Markathon: Do channels have a systematic mechanism to evaluate if they are able to reach their target audience or not? May be the product was targeted at someone and it was consumed by someone else.
Absolutely there is, so all these years there was this one bible that the industry used to use and it was called, TAMS- Television Audience Measurement system . But as of, early this year, it has been changed to BARC- Broadcasting Audience Research Council. So that’s the third party which does the analysis of your channel or show. Like you would have heard of TRPs , it comes from them. So it is not just about ratings, they do an in-depth analysis of what the audience is watching, when are they watching, and where are they watching it. Then there are departments which analyse that data accordingly, in coordination with other factors like geography etc. and come up with the overall strategies. This data is also used to evaluate promos as well. Initial promos of a show are a very integral part of the communication designed for the consumers. So if a show is about to be launched then usually in depth research is done on the kind of audience the promos have reached. So if the target was young women, they evaluate how much of the population reached matches with the target audience. Then it entirely depends upon on the broadcaster if they want to take the research analysis on face value or not. As at times too much of analysis leads to paralysis.
Markathon: There is a change in the content of movies and soap operas made a decade ago and now? Do you think the current scenario is more people centric than product centric and major emphasis is on building connect?
Absolutely and that is how it should be, because the audience and the consumer is so much more intelligent these days and they are exposed to so much. They go through so much Indian as well as international content. So there is a change in their consumption pattern, like even if you see in movies, the movies which used to work in 1980s or 1990s, they will not work today. On the same lines you couldn’t have thought of a movie like Queen to be such a huge success, 10 years ago. So there is an evolution of taste amongst the consumers. The consumers want content which they can understand easily and they can relate to. So it is about the simplicity and relatability of the content. It’s not just about the functional aspects but the emotional connect that you build for your product. As emotional connect is the best connect you can build with your consumer. For e.g. If you need to advertise a bottle of water and you say that this a blue bottle and the water in it is pure, it just costs 10 bucks and it is Bailey, come buy it. Then there is a huge chance it won’t work, but instead if you build a story around it, on how the water is coming from the mountains just to your home and it brings purity and positivity in your home, it might connect with the customer well, and he might think that it is a good option for a bottled mineral water. Taking it further, there is a great advertisement by Tanishq, in which a dark women is getting remarried and it is showcased that her daughter makes a fuss to be with her during some crucial ceremonies. It shows how his husband to be is sensitive towards it and handles the situation, now these kind of advertisements do make connect and it conveys a beautiful message. Now it is both beneficial and responsible on the part of the advertisers, brands and agencies to come up with content like this. Another such ad, is an HDFC ad where they showcase a woman talking about having a house and how is she planning for it. Buying a house has always been a man’s job according to the Indian society but it is advertisements and products like these that not only create a strong place in the mind of the target audience but also encourages them to break the norm.
Markathon: What would be the revenue split for a television channel between advertisement and distribution?
Currently the ratio is 60:40, in favour of advertisers by large. I am talking about the industry average, for certain broadcasters the skew might be different. But the ratio used to be 80:20 and 70:30 in the favour of the advertisers earlier, so it is shifting now. Globally, if I speak it is 70:30, in favour of the broadcaster or the distributor. So we are way off that bench mark and we need to work on that balance. The distributors favour this majorly because such a high share of advertisement in the revenue model adds to a lot of ambiguity as money coming from advertising could go really up or really down. It is not fixed. So you need a better split to manage your risk, at least what is needed is a 50:50.
Markathon: What will be the one advice you would like to give to our readers?
That would be passion and passion. Follow what you are passionate about. I have been a big propagator of that, I am a big believer of that and I am a live example of that. If you are really passionate about something, there is very rare chance you won’t succeed at it. So if you really are doing what you believe in and what you love, everything would follow. Fame, fortune and money is a by-product and if that becomes your goal then you are starting in the wrong direction. It might work for you but there is a huge chance you won’t be happy in that scenario. So in case you want to be happy and successful, follow your passion. Passion has been my mantra and that would be one advice that I would like to give to any budding executive.