Thursday, 5 April 2018
The 'Crow on a Cow' Metaphor
Since long conventional media houses and ad agencies enjoyed a strong bonding as to the analogy of a cow and a crow.
The cow used to allow crow to sit on its back and peck the insects from its skin. While the cow pacifies its itches the crow scours out a free meal.
A Win-Win for both media houses and agenices.
1990's Ad Salesperson
Then came the golden era of field sales. Publication companies started recruiting smart young people to canvass advertisement from SMB's and professionals. Eventually, print and outdoor media sales flourished as the market was relatively huge and there were very fewer players to compete.
A few years later came the advent of visual media where private TV channels took over the domain. Regional channels with localized content were the newfound turfs. Entertainment, Sports, and News genre were the favorite among viewers and advertisers. The industry soon was buoyed with ad sales professionals mantling the role of selling airtime on national and private satellite channels.
Fast forward 2000, online media started posing serious threats to the established media houses in 'print' and 'visual'. Advertisers were lured by web marketers with inflated and hollow promises.
Not many understood the concept of 'digital' at the beginning. Some tried to comprehend but failed.
Print and visual media celebrated the moment and some of them went to the extent of publishing articles and ads in their own dailies, magazines, and channels to show how miserable the online media were for the advertisers. However, the propaganda didn't last long as the power of online and digital was way beyond their imagination.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the town, the print has almost become part of a sunset industry. The rise of tech and digital companies has hastened the need for consolidation among traditional brands.
Strangely, admen and publishers across the globe acted as if nothing adversely happened.
Rise & near fall of the visual media
In 2010 the crown was dispelled and the visual media empire was almost dethroned.
Google became a demi God in a newly found world of SME (search, media & entertainment). It started selling advertisements with its Adwords program in 2000.
The long fought war, intended to dethrone the visual and print, finally ended with a victory for Google.
Slow Death of Print?
What went wrong with print? It was a more of suicidal than a natural death.
Back in the days, I was fortunate to have worked as an ad salesperson. I fondly recall telling my manager, who was in charge of our website, to develop an effective transition plan for our ad products from print to online. I even shot an email with this idea and urging him to consider this on priority. He gave it a damn! "Who the heck are you giving me ideas?" he might have whispered.
The management thought it would cannibalize their existing print revenue if they promote ads on the website.
Again, when QR code became prominent I urged my management to include it in the print ads so that a customer's customer can know more about a product or service after scanning the code. I found no backers. Today all that suggestions might sound trivial but it was a strong piece of advice at that point in time.
What the publishing houses across the globe couldn't digest was that it's already in an ocean trench and need a life support. To make the matter worse there was no one around to offer any help.
Fast forward today, even the mainstream television media is struggling with low revenues, viewership, and acceptance. Most of the media houses and ad agencies are now on a major consolidation drive. Digital media revenues have contracted beyond one's imagination. The print is no more a priority for most advertisers.
Corporate biggies are drastically cutting their advertising budgets including digital spends. Unilever and P&G is a case in point. Various media offerings are being integrated with the hope of finding new business and buyers.
Social Media advertising was sort of a light in the tunnel. But now that's also faded away. We live and work in a scary media-eat-media world.
Is a survival possible?
Let's agree for now that this situation is here to stay for some more time or until new consensus emerge.
News Papers, Magazines, and other Print Products
These were part of our daily lives in some way or the other. The advertisements were the major revenue. When the media houses flourished many had made a living out of it.
When the visual media started upping their ante, print media initially refused to buddy with them. Soon they realized that each one has a space of its own. 'Readers' and 'viewers' are two different categories to target.
The anomaly was that instead of the pie getting enlarged it shrunk dramatically. This had severely impacted the profitability of print media houses. To counter this some of them have started their own TV channels and Web sites at point blank. Many of them tasted defeat. Few emerged unscathed though.
In future Newspapers will be mostly read by 'class' than a 'mass'. The editorial team will be tasked with creating separate content for print and online. Though topics could remain the same in 'print' and 'digital', it's content will differ in the 'details' and 'analysis' side.
Advertisements will be placed alongside the content. Algorithms shall be set separately to predict the topics for the next day and the ads will be placed based on its relative relevance. Most of the advertisers will opt for the 'occurrence of an event' for approving and releasing their ad. The process will be completely automated without any human intervention for a seamless experience.
Advertising department will be solely tasked with creating ad inventories to use up later for the clients. There will be active bidding for finding the placement and position of the ad. Payments will be effected in real-time.
Agencies will don a different hat as a facilitator than a buyer or decision maker. The reach and ROI of the advertisement will be analyzed and measured based on the 'views' generated from the content. The ad appeared alongside the content on a page shall be deemed as seen or read.
In future, an eveninger will find more acceptance to readers and advertisers. The reading habit of households - individuals and family, will change eventually as times goes by and many would opt to read an evening daily than a morning newspaper.
It is already happening now whether you notice it or not. The purpose of delivering Morning News & Breaking News is already being taken over by digital and online media.
Events like award functions, conferences, seminars, and product launches will continue to contribute a major chunk of revenue to the publication group through sponsorships and advertisements. Native content soon will be exposed and wiped out with genuine contents. Publishers soon will document in their policy statement that they won't accept any paid content or native ads in order to gain the credibility of readers. However, paid content shall continue to appear in the publication if it adopts an FTA (free to all) model instead of a subscription model.
In the long run, subscription revenue will supersede the advertising revenue. Readers will be the ultimate decision-maker. They will emerge as the main stakeholder. The stockholder's top line objective would change accordingly.
Magazines will be compelled to adopt online/digital versions. It is already happening now. Hard copies will be distributed free but with fewer pages as part of the promotion activities. It will have a brief write up of the content or pictures with QR codes to scan and read later on its website or other digital platforms.
Readers shall opt for a pay-per-article model. However, subscribers will continue with their annual/monthly one-time fee to access content on the website. Subjects like technology, politics, legal, innovation, and management shall continue to generate the attention of viewers, readers, and advertisers.
Outdoor / OOH: Will survive the ordeal with the introduction of innovative ideas and breathtaking images giving a visual treat for the riders and onlookers.
In future, the content and design will be displayed real-time over the air. Huge LED screens will replace the flex and lit billboards.
The occurrence of festivals, events, tourism specials etc will continue to define the success of OOH. The only notable difference would be that the content will be integrated over digital and online mediums.
Television and other Visual Media:
TV broadcasting has boasted of its captive audience. There is no other medium which can command the market with its capability to earn billions of dollars. Probably not anymore. Digital and online are becoming the spoilers.
Broadcasters countered it by launching their own digital and online offerings. As a standalone property, they might succeed in their respective categories. But that doesn't mean that they could make significant profits for the entire organization in the near-term and come out of woods.
FT reported recently in its European edition - "The strategic pressures on the financials of traditional TV business are accelerating. Advertising competition is increasing. Content costs in TV and film are increasing. And, alternatives to pay-TV are increasing".
News Channels stand a chance to succeed in the near term for the content it generates over real-time. Relatively less production cost is an advantage for them. But it will struggle with the overheads as more resources are needed to go live from different parts of the world.
Live streaming online platforms are licking their lips for a killing.
GEC channels with the current format of broadcasting will find its cruise more tougher. Television is no more an exclusive platform for consuming entertainment. Traditional and mainstream 'GEC' channels are already witnessing shrinking revenues. Digital, Mobile & Online shall be the preferred sources for consuming entertainment in the future. Chances are that the television will become a mere hardware to pair the content from a mobile or computer device. Neverthless, GEC still continues to be the king of all.
OTT(Over the Top) will be the preferred choice for the family. OTT players like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV delivers the program over the internet without the involvement of any multiple system operators who are in control or distribution of the content.
Interestingly, there are others claiming to be an OTT provider which actually mirrors the programs broadcasted on their satellite channels. They conveniently allow the viewers to watch the programs on the web in addition to watching on TV and merely acts as a storage site for its own TV programs.
To qualify for an OTT it should produce own content and gains viewers with a subscription or pay per view model.
Sports Channels in future will be outplayed by live streaming platforms like Facebook, Twitter or similar. Facebook's recent bidding for the rights of 'digital broadcasting' of the IPL cricket is a case in point.
Star TV grabbed the rights for an all-format broadcasting for a whopping $2.55 billion.Unless Sports TV companies overhaul its existing business models and find new ways to automate the ad buying process the profitability will continue to shrink. Not to forget that in future the mode and means of viewing a sports event could change dramatically. Viewership is highly unpredictable especially when the technology changes at the wink of an eye.
Local fiber channels: These channels will continue to survive as they cater only to the local community or region. However, this kind of model will not create a business on its own. It will always rely on an external network for beaming the content. Small time businesses and professionals may advertise with them.
Corporate will stay away as the TVR is not conclusive and authentic. Overheads will eat up the revenue unless strict measures are adopted. Tying up with associations, chamber of commerce, & other local bodies will help them to carry on with the business model.
E-sports (Gaming) & Live streaming: e-sports will overtake the revenue generated from traditional sports in the long run. Advertisers will not spend hefty sums as like in the past for any sports event, be it IPL or World Cup.
Live streaming platforms developed by Facebook can develop a bidding platform to choose advertisers based on each session of the game. For example, if India is batting first in a cricket match, the program can select which ad to be displayed first. When Virat Kohli is batting it can also decide which ad should run based on the bidding amount.
It's pay-as-you-consume model but only the top bidders clinch the advertising spots. Sponsorship and on-field advertisements shall continue to exist but will go with a combo along with TV ads. With Augmented Reality (AR) the ads can be overlayed on a TV screen while being broadcasted and the viewers could witness a unique viewing experience of the match without any intrusion.
The television industry is already experiencing a new phenomenon called Geotargeting. With this, it can package its content and target to a specific audience in a particular area or region.
Concerted studies and efforts are going on globally so that a channel could simultaneously air different ads created for different target segments, areas or regions while broadcasting a particular program live or recorded.
The ads and the content will be designed and targeted to a specific audience with a demography in mind as agreed by the advertiser.
Similarly, Interactive Television is already making waves in the industry. You can interact over the channel with your content while a program is being aired and your views or input will significantly influence towards broadcasting the desired the channel. Bloomberg TV has been credited with a first mover advantage. Others will follow the suit.
Google is working in the backyard of television advertising without their explicit knowledge. In the recently concluded Partner Leadership Summit Google announced several new TV ad products in DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) like TV content explorer, smarter TV ad breaks with dynamic ad insertion and video placements. Research is progressing well at Google to dominate the TV broadcasting & advertising.
Distribution front is already struggling with the cord cutting phenomenon as prevalent in the west and slowly catching up in other regions including Asia and the Middle East. Once OTT gains momentum all fiber channels will either disappear or migrate to the new platform. Satellite channels are not an exception. Not to forget that licensing revenue will now incline more to the OTT and similar platforms.
Laughing Radio: A long time neglected medium is now witnessing a turnaround and is now at the pinnacle. It was truly magical. If you commute to work or elsewhere in a car the radio comes handy. It is the pet of SMB's and local businesses. Though the 'ad recall' is still a challenge for the advertisers, radio is having its last say and it is going to laugh up all the way top.
Digital & Online: Digital & online has caught up the attention of users and advertisers alike. Analytics is the 'ace' here as the advertiser can now measure the reach of his ad and analyze its return in dollar terms. That's the cherry on the cake for being digital & online.
Magic of co-existence
What many failed to understand was that, to survive both print and online should co-exist. In simpler terms - a reader may stumble upon a topic in print and read it briefly but later or sooner encounter with a detailed analysis of the same article on the website or vice verse. That's the magic of co-existence. In every such situation, an advertisement alongside the main content stands a chance to get unique views and clicks which may eventually turn into conversion or a sale.
Believing that the digital & online is now at a T Junction is nothing but an illusion. It has evolved over a period of time and it continues to improve dynamically in the future as well. Technology is it's better half. As long as they are wedded together and continue to have a strong relationship, no one can sever them.
All kinds & types of media will have their own space and will co-exist in the future.
When the world is calling, be at the top of the curve to see a digital tomorrow.
(Views are personal)
Thursday, 10 November 2016
Who blew my Trumpet?
The last time I wrote something was when Steve jobs bid adieu to this world prematurely. He still lives in our heart.
Now let me do that again on this occasion when Trump triumphs the world by getting into the echelons of the White house as an outsider - as a pure businessman rather than a senator or a military person.
I’m part of the media industry for several years and keenly follow all major and important happenings around the world. Press celebrated his victory by pulling in more pages as specials in their daily. Press had plenty to write on Trump than senator Hilary except that she would have been the first women president if got elected.
I’ve searched in most Indian dailies to find out the takeaways for the business community from this election. Many wrote about how he won, his strategies, his wealth, family, controversies etc. but very few wrote on the lessons we could learn from his election sweep from a marketing and business perspective.
This is the most important among all ideas Trump has put forth in his election campaign. America and its citizens are second to none. Country first and all others come after that. His campaign slogan ‘Making America Great Again’ (MAGA) & ‘Making America safe again’ (MASA) created waves. Though democrats have ridiculed this at the beginning but soon found it difficult to cope with the spread of this message in the country. Clinton countered this by telling “America is already great” didn’t go well with the voters.
In a corporate environment if an employee treat his work as paramount and has an ‘ORGANISATION FIRST’ attitude, the results will be tremendous. All successful people understand that and are implied in their approach and culture.
His opinion and stand on the blue-collar workers, minorities, gays, Hispanics, religions, immigration and all other sensitive topics all were crisp and clear. Many felt that it was more from his heart than from the head. I correct that - it was from his gut.
White-collar people were eagerly watching on how his policies are going to affect the blue collar rather than them. When they found it’s not going to affect them, they didn’t make an issue. It was a reverse approach by Trump.
These days’ people are smart and look for the benefits others get so that they can adjust their demands. Trump sensed this and Hilary missed it.
Strategy is more important than process.
Trump didn’t expressly try to please Blacks or other minorities in US but kept them at par with the whites. Whereas Clinton deliberately tired to give her an image of a pro black and minority messiah. This has upset the white majority in America and later she fall on her face. America is meant for the Americans as India is for Indians.
Trump knew the basic principle in business that he can’t please all. Clinton once again bite the dust.
STRAIGHT FROM THE GUT
Very few understand this statement well. Jack Welsh, Iconic GE man, is the propounder of this great belief. If your gut instinct is right you seldom fails.
Trump was a man of ‘real’. He had his opinion on everything and that was his own. He never asked anyone to subscribe to it. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. So is he. Trump always expressed his opinion straight and upfront. He ended up in several controversies. All short range. People sensed it. Trump presented himself to his voters as he is. In the same way as he is a human being, husband, father, son, divorcee, business man, billionaire, tax evader (legal), womanizer (who is not?) and what not every kind of avatars. Hilary’s was a canned life and sounded artificial in her approach.
Americans live in a most advanced society. They know what is right or wrong in a defined context and also know to take decisions in any adversities or otherwise. They were looking for a true American and didn’t care if he had any flaws. They know that as long as it’s not impacting their country and citizens it’s perfectly fine. Clinton miserably failed to understand that as she was under a false belief that one should always be 100% perfect to rule America. May be her experience from her own husband while he was the president might have made her to take such a stand.
Corporate world has no place to accommodate personal feelings or allegations of anyone. As long as an employee steer clear of this head wind and continue contributing towards the growth of the company he or she should be declared as a winner.
SING & SWING
This is the most difficult thing to do. Virtually impossible to do both simultaneously especially if it’s on a long rope swing and at that too at a good pace. Trump knew it well in advance. He preempted his competition and focused on the core areas. Swing states like Florida, Ohio, Virginia and couple of other states were under Trump’s radar from the very beginning. All his campaign efforts were focused on these Swing States. He knows if at least 3 of the swing states decide to vote for him he will win the elections. He practiced well on how to sing while on a swing. Most of those swing states went for Trump and he tasted victory. Clinton failed to understand the pain points and she focused on other majority states ignoring swing states hoping that they will go all out and vote for her - Mistake # 5.
In business it’s better to have a fall back plan from the beginning. Your existing customers might change their mind anytime and shift loyalty to your competition. Don’t ignore your customers or depend too much on your prospects.
WINNING AGAINST THE ODDS
Clinton had the best of the advantage against Trump on various parameters. Had she won, she would have been the first women president and the past ‘First Lady’ becoming the president in the history of America. Backing of his husband as a former president, backing of the outgoing president, experience as a former secretary of state, senator – Some how all didn’t work.
I read somewhere “Donald Trump is a reminder that you should just apply for that job you want even if you don’t have the experience”.
He is an outlier - a true outsider with no backing even from his own party and without any military or diplomatic experience. He was neither a Senator nor an ardent party worker. But he is a businessman – one who understands what a country/company needs and what keeps him on his toes.
Come and blow the Trumpet and let the party begin!
Saturday, 12 January 2013
Mr. Bertrand Macabeo, CEO of Kompass International and Coface International was in Dubai last week and visited 'Express Print Publishers LLC'. During his visit new business plans and strategies for Kompass were revealed and also reinstated the business relationship with the Express Group.
Mr. Abdul Qadir Mohammed, Chairman of the Express Group received him at Express HO and welcomed on behalf of the Board of Directors. Mr. Abdul Wahab, Director was also part of the discussion. Mr. John McIssac, CEO of the yellow pages division of the Express offered a view of the market conditions prevailing in GCC and also opined to explore ways and means to co-exist and inter leverage the opportunities available for Yellow pages and Kompass directory.
I had the opportunity to present the 2013 Business & Campaign plan for Kompass in UAE. Mr. Bertrand has shared some of the successful business models and best sales practices of the Kompass associates in other countries and were able to gather a global overview on all related areas.
Mr. Bertrand also invited me for the Global Meet planned for Kompass associates in March 2013 in France.
Saturday, 1 September 2012
2nd in series of the article sent to GN for publishing in their properties section. First view exclusively for my friends and followers....
2nd in series of the article sent to GN for publishing in their properties section. First view exclusively for my friends and followers....
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOURS, THEY MAY BE YOUR SAVIOUR DURING CRISIS
"Neighbours envy owners pride" was a celebrated punch line of a famous television brand (ONIDA) for several years. If streamed again it is highly unlikely that the same reverberations may happen with the ad viewers these days. We have gone past those 'envy-bubble' days and no one considers their material possessions as true luxury or worth any real praise. A gentle reminder-- it is high time they value the true worthiness of their neighbours these days.
UAE is a country where the age-old mantra of unity in diversity is practically visible. Perhaps no other country can boast of nesting this cultural dynamics of different communities. A typical residential building in UAE may possibly contain different nationalities from around the world. Though community living among expats is minimal in this country many are constrained to live in apartments and high-rise buildings. Due to work commitments and job timings many of us are isolated from our neighbours. It is quite strange that many of us keep only a HB (Hi bye) relationship with our neighbours. An ideal neighbour relationship may help one at the time of a crisis. A case in point is the recent fire accidents in some of the high-rise buildings.
1. Establish at least a talking term relationship with your neighbours. Probably your children can start of the relationship process with their friends in the next door.
2. It is always better to exchange the phone numbers (Office & Mob) based on the comfort level you mutually enjoy. This will help to alert one another at the time of any impending crises.
3. If the building has got a common meeting place you may frequently exchange pleasantries during a walk around. Meeting outside home are always advisable for a free flow of talk. A Gym, Swimming pool or sometimes parking space in the building would be an ideal choice.
A strong relationship with your neighbours will only payoff in the long term if you have exercised your options carefully to choose them. Keep in mind that when a hell like crisis strike, a known devil relatively will be rescued faster than an unknown angel. Don't play stranger with your neighbours. Neighbour’s envy is no more owners’ pride.