Can media audits improve efficiencies?

14 Nov,2011




By Rishi Vora

India is in the midst of a media blitzkrieg, where advertisers are hounded by a plethora of media options. What this fragmentation has done is for advertisers and clients, is the need to be more accountable. The need to improve efficiencies. The need to be measured.

Last week, a London-based global media auditing firm – EMM International announced its launch in India. The company will offer its services of measuring media effectiveness for national as well as international brands, operating out of India via a joint venture initiative with Indraksh Media and Management Services. Global CEO Stephen White will serve as the chairman while Yuvraj Agarwal of Indraksh Media will lead the India operations as CEO.

Though media audit is not a completely new phenomenon in India, it’ll be apt to say that the market is at a very nascent stage. There is only one national player in Spatial Access that is playing a significant role in the market. Media reports suggest that Spatial Access audits more than 40 percent of TV spends in India and that the plans are on to expand business operations to countries within the APAC region. Broadly speaking of the Indian industry, it is only roughly about 5-10 percent of the total media spends that are audited vis-à-vis, a 30-35 percent in the UK and 60 percent in the US.

However, the market for media audits in India is at a stage, from where it could grow rapidly in the next few years to come. Speaking to MxM India, Mr White said categorically, “India needs more than one player, surely. It needs a company that can take a different approach to challenges, bring in fresh perspectives and of course, the experience of a global company – the knowledge, the skillsets and the reputation it brings to the market.” Mr White further added, “Next three to four years is going to be a very interesting period. India will see growth in media auditing by a significant number. From currently where it stands at 5-10 percent, I see that increasing to at least 25 percent.”

The preliminary research that was conducted by the company before official launch stated that more than 90 percent of the respondents in India feel the need of an international audit company with a local partner. The thought process that EMM is adopting is “constant improvements” and for media agencies – the need to be more open to individual assessment. The London-based company will use market insights and data to evaluate performances.

A senior member from the media agency fraternity said that media audits do bring in value to the business, and only time will tell if EMM India is able to live up to its international reputation, whether it is successful in providing solutions that are more meaningful.

On whether or not media audits are useful for clients, Ajay Kakar, CMO – Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group opined, “Like all audits which help to optimize, increase efficiencies and provide an external perspective; I feel that media audits are also gradually becoming more acceptable to marketers as they provide an objective assessment of the marketing investments. This is more relevant from a process and compliance point of view especially when we include marketing initiatives like BTL programmes/events/production etc and make it a 360 solutions audit rather than only a traditional media audit.” Kakar feels that the space is relatively unchartered in India with a very few players, but is likely to grow as the market is seeing more value in measuring efficacy of media spends.

While it is clear that there is growth and opportunity for both existing players and a few more to come in the years to come. There might be a possibility where we could see big one of the MNCs enter India acquiring one of the existing businesses, if the industry sees unprecedented growth. It will be interesting to see how EMM shapes up, and of course, how the current market leader responds. It’s going to be interesting watching this small but rapidly growing niche.

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