Media buying agencies also referred to as the Agencies of Record (AORs) have emerged in the recent past. They can be defined as the middlemen or space buyers. Their function, as seen by industry observers is to provide service to, and not replace, the media departments within the advertising agencies.
Such media buying agencies, according to Cohen, “offer a specialized service in time buying, particularly in the area of spot broadcasting, with its innumerable combinations of offerings, and its requirement of extensive data on demographics”.
Such outfits buy space and time in bulk most of the time putting together many clients, which enable them to avail of discounts and negotiate rates wherever possible. The AORs for their services charge an additional 2.5 percent to the advertising agencies, who retain the remaining 12.5 percent. When the AORs are asked to provide media strategy, they charge an additional 2.5 percent dorm the ad agencies, on whose behalf they work. As it is a new phenomenon in the Indian context, the system lacks transparency and to many it is still shrouded in mystery.
Over the past few years, there has been an increasing use of computers in media planning. Some of the marketing and media research outfits like IMRB have developed software which are sold to the agencies to retrieve media source information with out going through the rigmarole of consulting voluminous media reference books. The data are updated on computers regularly. With a number of databases available, none of them comparable to each other, decision-making, according to Narayanmoorthy becomes subjective for clients, agencies and the media. “It is anybody’s guess on what is actually the correct interpretation of the available data”, laments he.
Whatever the media planners’ blues, it sis believed that media planning will gain more importance once the Indian viewers have the benefit of the Direct to Home (DTH) broadcast receiving facility against the present system of receiving channels through the cable operators. From the present estimated 750 hours of cumulative programme choice available to an average India home with access about 40 channels, media planners will have sleepless nights thinking about innovations to lure the “promiscuous” viewer against channel surfing in times to come.