India leads APAC region in media audits: Meenakshi Madhvani, Spatial Access Solns
Media audit space in India is still an uncharted territory in India,and there aren’t too many players in this space. Spatial Access Solutions one of the key players pack, has recently announced its ambitious expansion plans, in India and globally. Meenakshi Madhvani, Managing Partner — Spatial Access Solutions shares with Amit Bapna the game plan for this fledgling category within the communication industry.
How mature is the media audit space in India? And globally how has it evolved?
Madhvani: India leads the APAC region when it comes to media audits, and that is because we have a 7-year lead in a very young and developing region. This is a significant percentage when compared to the UK, a market where media audits have been around for close to 2 decades and where, currently over 75% of TV spends are audited. America has been slower to adopt media audits primarily since broadcasters work with guaranteed CPRPs and that changes the nature of the game. Also there are checks and balances in place to ensure transparency between Agency, Client and Media owner.
How have you managed to find acceptance amongst be useful for both the clients and the agencies?
Madhvani: Media Agencies have understood that we are brutally honest with both parties. The Advertiser and the Agency. Often we have to caution the advertiser that they have to accept ownership because the brief comes from them and the Agency output may reflect inadequacies in the input (brief). As both advertisers and agencies realize that it helps to have an independent objective external part assessing the media performance, audits will get widespread and become part of Corporate governance and risk management. Finally, if an advertiser is not interested in objective assessment of their marketing investments then they are not value seekers and are probably uncomfortable with demanding accountability and transparency from their partners.
How has the journey been in this relatively new category, for Spatial Access?
Madhvani: I have been fortunate in being able to build traction for untried and tested initiatives. Starting with Zee TV, then Carat and now Spatial Access. Each of these organizations were ahead of their times and benefited from being path breaking and innovative.
We have found greater acceptance of media audits over the last three years. The initial period was difficult because we were trying to sell a new concept to sceptics. Now however, we are selling a proven concept to believers and that makes it easier for them and us. Spatial Access is auditing over 40% of TV spends as of date. Every single client we have ever worked with (with one exception) has come back for a follow up project, and that I feel is proof that media audits can deliver greater efficiency. (When asked to share some of the clients worked with, Madhvani shared, they cannot share any of the work done by them since they are bound to confidentiality by NDAs (Non Disclosure Agreement).) .
What are the plans for Spatial Access? How has the journey been so far?
Madhvani: That’s why we have now expanded our bandwidth by appointing two joint CEOs to manage the business. Nikhil Rangnekar will manage and grow the Media vertical covering audits, advisory and analytics, while Geetanjali Bhattacharjii will manage and grow the Marketing services which covers audits for BTL, Production, PR and Events. The plan being to take the service to every value-seeking advertiser in the country and very shortly in the region. While the team grows the business I plan to focus my energy on developing new concepts.
What are the plans on establishing a global footprint?
Madhvani: We have already taken a small step in this direction and have been working with clients in Thailand and Indonesia. Philippines and Vietnam are next on the cards. Before the end of the year we would have launched Spatial Access in at least two of these countries. We are associates of two large global players Ebiquity and FLE, both UK headquartered media audit companies and have been their India representatives for over 5 years.