Common media practices in India emphasize reaching adults, focus heavily on urban consumers, and dedicate more media support to the core brand than to extensions by a ratio of 7:3 in the first year. Additionally, advertising formats of 30 seconds or longer are the prescribed majority among the 70 percent of commercials that do not communicate a new message. Nielsen research reveals a better, more effective way forward.
Raj Hosahalli, Nielsen India, and Gayathri Swahar, Nielsen NeuroFocus, break down some common media practices in India at Nielsen's India Consumer 360 Conference in Mumbai and detail four uncommon strategic approaches that can have a significant and immediate impact on improving media spending effectiveness.
1. Know your audience.
The human brain does not grow symmetrically at all stages of life. There are significant differences between how children versus adults and men versus women process information. In 2011, media exposure to Indian adults aged 18–34 was three times greater than to kids aged 2–12. While the right media mix will depend on brand and intended audience, a Nielsen analysis shows that the retention span for adults is much longer than the retention span for kids. As a result, balancing reach across audience segments becomes more important than continuity on one particular segment to win in India in the long term.
Another common practice in India is to invest more heavily on urban rather than rural audiences, as the perception is that rural consumers are hard to reach and are less responsive. But Nielsen research finds that rural audiences are equally if not more responsive than urban audiences. In this way, more balanced media planning will not only reach intended audiences more accurately, but media dollars will be spent more effectively too
2. Build a strong portfolio.
The common perception is that media support for the mother brand will help build extensions (e.g., variants, new packs), which is why 60-70% of media dollars is typically focused on core brands. Conversely, Nielsen finds that though it varies by portfolio, the impact of mother brand media on extensions on average does not halo as positively as extension media support on the mother brand. To maximize impact and effectiveness, decisions on media investment support needs to take a portfolio approach rather than a narrowly focused one.
3. Use shorter ad formats and consider screen size.
Today, 80 percent of TV commercials in India have no change in messaging. Of those commercials, 70 percent utilize a 30 second or longer ad format. Nielsen research shows that a 10 second ad can deliver 1.1 times more ROI than a 30 second ad when used as a reminder to support the original campaign and when there is no new news to report. Neurocompression research helps to keep the most effective components of the ad intact, while delivering the message in a shorter format. Importantly, keep the size of the screen in mind when crafting messages. Smaller screens require more attention to content, while larger screens need to connect more emotionally with audiences.
4. Coordinate marketing and sales plans.
Nielsen’s research reveals that 80 percent of "above-the-line" (promoted sales) and "below-the-line" (non-promoted sales) media investment is managed and executed separately. ATL spend is managed and executed by marketing teams, while BTL spend iss managed and executed by sales teams. When media and distribution activities are coordinated, an additional six to eight percent of incremental volume is sold.