Chairman & Managing Director
An alumnus of Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, Sam Balsara took over Madison Communications in 1988 and went on to turn it into one of India's most successful agencies. In the quicksand world of advertising, completely dominated by multinationals, small-built Sam Balsara stands tall. Even as Indian ad mavericks have sold off their businesses one by one, Madison Advertising, controlled by Balsara has gone from strength to strength, in a tough, no-holds barred fight against his more formidable and resourceful competitor. In this interview, the doyen of advertising shares with allaboutoutdoor, the high points of the media arm and touches on various other aspects that keep the Madison juggernaut rolling. We present some excerpts:
1. With other wings like PR, Creative, Outdoor and Merchandising in the same umbrella, which segment is the chief contributor to Madison's turnover?
The chief contributor to Madison's turnover is Madison Media, followed by Madison OOH. Within OOH we have separate units for Traditional Outdoor (MOMS and PLATINUM), Experiential Event and Activation (TURNT), Retail (MRP), and Rural (Anugrah Madison). Within OOH, Outdoor is the largest contributor. All our units are doing reasonably well. After Madison Media, our OOH unit comprising of Outdoor, Experiential, Events, Retail, Merchandising, and Rural would be the second largest contributor to Madison World.
2. How do you place the outdoor wing in this roster?
Our two main Outdoor Companies are MOMS and Platinum Outdoor and both are doing well. Last year they dealt with almost 200 clients.
3. What do you have to say about the current scenario of media buying and selling?
It's a competitive market. Both at the Buying end and selling end. As the media noise in the market increases, for arguably the Return on the Advertising Rupee invested is becoming less and less. Digital, which has added a new dimension to the market, is now almost Rs. 9,000 crores, having grown at a compound annual growth rate of 30% for the last three years. Consumer usage of Media has changed rapidly in the last few years, but both media owners and advertisers are slow to incorporate these changes in their media plans. Advertisers are putting too much emphasis on buying parameters like Rates or CPRP and not focusing enough on Effectiveness.
4. What is the role of innovation in outdoor? Please site a few examples of innovative campaign you have come across recently.
The Outdoor medium lends itself to innovations rather well and that is why you see lots of interesting innovations at Award shows and in the market. I have many favourites among Outdoor innovations, but a recent one that comes to mind is, when our Platinum Outdoor got Tata HEXA to pull the giant Boeing on the tarmac to amplify its strength and power positioning. Innovations in OOH play a big role and deliver a lot of Impact for the brands. Brands that understand this reap rich dividends.
5. Where do you see OOH industry three years down the line?
Despite all the problems that the Outdoor industry faces, like Fragmentation, lack of organized players on the supply side and lack of measurement metrics, the OOH Advertising market has been growing at approximately at 10% every year and has now cross Rs. 3,000 crores. I expect the Outdoor market to continue to register growth. I do believe that we as an Industry are not exploiting the full potential of the Medium.
6. Any general advice for young entrepreneurs?
There are many brilliant ideas which could be made into business propositions, but I maintain that all good ideas are not monetisable. So my first advice to entreprenurs would be to put your idea to a strict test of how monetisable is the idea. My second piece of advise to an entrepreneur is to keep your costs low. Much before you expect it, a competitor will appear with a superior product at a lower price.
7. What is your vision for Madison in the next few years? How do you place MOMS & Platinum in this vision?
Our vision for Madison World is to be the Agency Partner of choice for every discerning advertiser and meet his every communication need. We want each of our units to be world class, deliver a quality service at a competitive cost, in such a way that it helps the client meet his business objective. MOMS and Platinum Outdoor are two important and critical members of Madison World and have made good progress in the last few years.
Interview by: Aarti Pahwa
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