The Covid-19 pandemic has forced media planners to craft their strategy in a much more, sharper manner as every rupee spent on advertising now needs to deliver even stronger returns, says Jaikishin Chhaproo, Head, Media & PR, ITC Limited.
Chhaproo, a jury member for the upcoming Rising Star Awards, believes the current pandemic period could be a great learning curve for young media planners.
In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, he suggests a way forward for young media planners.
For the last year or so, there has been uncertainty around everything, including business continuity and market consumption. How has it impacted the media strategy process?
Advertising is one of the oldest professions known and over time, the touchpoints for communicating to your prospective customer have evolved. There is no linear way of reaching out to your customer. The customers are wanderlust and need to be followed to trigger the brand message at all opportunities. Lord Leverhulme had once said, half the advertising spends goes waste. In current times, the challenges with mediums have also gone up multi-fold — we hear about bot fraud, viewership panels being compromised among other things.
With businesses being impacted, the need for communication has not gone down. Now, the rupee needs to be more accountable and each paisa needs to deliver stronger results. This definitely calls for a sharper and more involved media strategy more than ever.
How do you see media strategy function today compared with the time when you started? Has it become tougher?
Life was much simpler when I started. There was Doordarshan — National Network, DD-Metro and Regional Kendras — that had a defined time band for local content before these became common feed for National Network. For newspapers, there was NRS & IRS. TV Data used to come in floppy disks—one for each of the nine monitoring cities, and cable homes were around 25%.
Now there are TV homes, connected TV homes and cord-cut homes. TV is itself offering 500-odd channels. The market is highly fragmented. The youth now needs to be reached through OTT/ digital only. News consumption happens in real time and not necessarily via TV or print. Social platforms are springing up. It has become more science now. Earlier it was numbers and lots of gut.
With media strategy becoming more complex, what should be the key traits for young professionals to make a mark in this field?
They should not get disillusioned by fancy titles. Currently, there is some frenzy on having a C added to the title really soon. I have seen young professionals jumping jobs in 5-6 months for a fancier title and money. There is no hunger for knowledge. Youngsters should realise there is no race to the top. It is not how fast you add the C designation to your title, it’s how much did you learn in your journey to reach this title.
I read somewhere: it takes at least 10,000 hours on a task to call yourself an expert. Some maths here will tell us that around 6-7 years will make you qualify for the 10,000 hours. The journey for growth begins after this. With a strong foundation, you will be geared for success better.
It’s a dynamic industry and only surviving on your existing knowledge is not sufficient. There will be times when you need to adopt, adapt and adept to new learnings and also forego some of the past learnings. Youngsters should invest in their learning.
There's also a need for the young talent to be respectful to their ecosystem. If you are the client or agency, respect the brethren, respect their time, respect their work. It’s a symbiotic equation with each other. You will be known for your behaviour and deeds only.
How will the Rising Star Awards help young media strategists?
"Have I spent some time today to find a solution to an existing problem? Have I thought of all the possibilities? Did I think lateral? Did I think out of the box? Did I do something different? Did I build a better mousetrap?" I guess the Rising Star Awards should recognise young professionals who have identified a better mousetrap. Let there be a hunger for the young professionals to be recognised as Rising Stars.
Under the ambit of the Rising Star Awards, BestMediaInfo can actually fund courses with reputed universities for 6-8 week courses in Strategy for these professionals.
What is advice for young media strategists?
As young media professionals, our significant amount of time goes into meeting deadlines and getting plans and ROs out. This essentially means we only deliver for the plan. Do we take a step back and take some time out from the 8-10 working hours to think through the solutions for the common issues or common problems, which will probably be a bit out of the box? There is a probability that the client may not agree and support you but at the same time, one streak chance gives you big joy. I wish you all the best and I hope each of you takes some time out to think through a solution that has never been attempted before.