Anchor | One Big Idea by Sundeep Nagpal: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

22 Jan,2013

By Sundeep Nagpal


Only over the last decade-and-a-half, our industry has witnessed the emergence of a new occupation – called media negotiations. It even serves as a source of livelihood for some. Much as the industry would like to be described as an ‘organized’ sector, this practice (of negotiations), which leaves no official trail or record of prevalent pricing, has now come to thrive in the same way as in the real-estate industry. Rate cards, even if some of them still exist, have become meaningless. They don’t even serve as a yard-stick any longer, and for strange reason, buyers (even large advertisers) still prefer to make savings, a criterion for remuneration / evaluation of a professional service (that of an agency)!


Another popular conception in our business seems to be that value can be driven by clout (and by now, thankfully some of us have understood the fallacy of this notion), and since the negotiation process, per se, doesn’t seem to involve much expertise, it tends to become anyone’s prerogative.


And needless to say, what’s much worse, is that business becomes much more opaque (shrouded in secrecy) in a competitive scenario.  While one could argue that this is the most natural outcome of a demand-supply situation, one can’t help feeling that among other ramifications (such as a change of culture and fraternity), it deprives media practitioners of their due respect, and thereby even reduces media space / time to a commodity.  Even this would be acceptable if whatever was being transacted was just plain vanilla space/ time, or the decision making process was really straight-forward. But as we all know, that’s not true, because what is being bought / sold is a specific set of audiences who could be potential consumers of a brand! And therefore, even the decision making process has to bring some intellect into play.  And this is what could restore the respect and the value of a business.


All said and done, a huge amount of time and energy gets spent on negotiations and I believe this can be effectively avoided – especially on Print media!


The possible solution can be, what I prefer to call, “Value-Based Pricing”! In other words, in my opinion, it’s not difficult to quantify both, delivery and value (even if some of it is intangible), on Print Media. I also submit that in some cases, it may be happening willy-nilly, but in the ultimate analysis, there still seems to be a huge variation in yield for any given publication, and (if I may reiterate), even after much time and energy has been devoted to negotiating! And if one has to reluctantly submit that this phenomenon has now pervaded the industry, the challenge remains to be able to put it on paper and revert to a more organized and productive system.


And, it’s easy to imagine why the print media (let’s say dailies, more specifically), could be the first to adapt to this model. That’s because, the medium is relatively less dynamic & more stable (it hasn’t witnessed high birth/ mortality rates & positions don’t change radically) and as a result, it makes it easier to quantify delivery & value and thereby practice Value Based Pricing, sustainably.


So, on print media, it mostly boils down to just following the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle. It’s not that difficult…really!


The writer is Founder-Director, Stratagem Media and Contributing Editor, MxMIndia


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