Ad Agencies in India Advised to Wake Up

Indian advertising agencies need to wake up to the challenges posed by global
economic trends and emerging interactive technologies like the Internet,
according to speakers at a two-day convention in Chennai.

The conference, called “Advertising’s Future Shock,” was inspired by the
business strategy book Competing for the Future, co-authored by
native and University of Michigan professor C.K. Prahalad, according to
correspondent Madanmohan Rao in India.

Prahalad said Indian companies need to pay attention to characteristics of the
new economy like open standards, digitalization, and volatility, as Internet-
based communication offers “tremendous new opportunities for Indian companies
via media convergence and re-intermediation.”

This also requires Indian advertising agencies to pay attention to the
importance of online market research, since new media like the Net are bound
to affect people’s perceptions of advertising, according to Nigel Hollis,
group research and development director at Connecticut-based Millward Brown

He said more money is spent on market research in the U.S. than anywhere
else, for sectors ranging from retail outlets to Web sites and users. “Our
research has shown that interstitial Web ads can sometimes score twice better
than TV ads,” he said.

Furthermore, the Internet is one of the “most wonderful ways” to get and
distribute information, according to Shunu Sen, CEO of Quadra Advisory Private
Limited. “But the Net user base is still small in India, and hence it is not
yet on the radar screen of Indian ad agencies.” India has an estimated 150,000
Internet users, but may have as many as 8 million by the year 2002, thanks to
a newly liberalized ISP policy.

“The challenge for Indian advertising agencies in the coming years is to be
able to target the rural market as well as the sophisticated urban market who
may have Internet access,” said Kiran Khalap, CEO of Bates Clarion, which he
claimed was one of the first ad agencies in India to set up an Internet

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