Clients have to pay for what they NEED, not the lowest they can pay: Ruby Bana

Known for speaking her mind, Ruby Bana, CEO, Catalyst and Head Research & Strategy, Havas Media, Asia, is a very accessible professional. Her role expanded to head research and strategy at Havas Media for Asia from the dawn of the year 2010, to which she is ready to add value with her proven track record. She shares her close to 20 years experience in the industry with Adgully and tells how media agencies in India have come a long way from what it used to be and also predicts the future of the industry. She talks about the business of Catalyst and also about some issues that the industry is facing that needs attention and her take on how it can be worked upon. So read on to know more:

Adgully (AG): Close to 20 years of experience in industry how has the experience been?

Ruby Bana (RB): I started out in the era of full service agencies. It was exciting to be involved in the entire process, and have a broader perspective of the complete communication product. Then when WPP happened I was part of the first management team. The independence was exciting, the investment that came in towards developing the profession of media planning per say, the ROI metrics etc. started gaining ground, without doubt it enriched me with experience. But then I saw a generation move out and a new generation of specialists move in, the young who had not seen the full service days and who were sadly disconnected from the larger objective, the objective of connecting with consumers hearts and conviction (that really is the true ROI for our clients!) I realised that this has to work synergistically for two reasons; the first is the fundamental one that message and media cannot be disconnected second is that the technology explosion is hastening the emergence of consumer generated content on the brand and these messages are much more powerful than that sent out by the traditional brand advertising approach.

AG: What clients Catalyst handles and what is the growth rate of the company? Is there any specific category or nature of business of client that you handle?

RB: The mandate for Catalyst is to provide solutions where we are accountable towards the client's business mandates.

This comes through Strategy, Innovation & Research. What matters is our client's growth as a result of our work. We are the Havas Groups investment into what would be the future of communication industry, in that sense we are boutique.

Catalyst has two kinds of clients first are organisation, media/creative agencies that recognise the evolution of the new world. They work with us either on project to project or on retainer basis. The second are direct clients who buy mostly Research & Modeling led solutions. We are still awaiting our 1st FULL service in client INDIA & our 2nd full service client in the region, where we are truly Catalyst in the entire process of bringing, research, creative and communication channels partners together in one integrated offering. Hope 2010 is that year!

AG: 2011 will see the beginning of new decade, what do you foresee for the next decade for the industry as a whole?

RB: The next decade will see changes faster than the decade that went by, and for many good reasons!

Consumers will be in control, sure TV will still be the lead medium, but advertiser will no longer be able to ensure that they can get the 30 sec to the consumer.

Place and time of viewing the TV will also not be in control, the old home based research measurements systems will have to evolve to adapt to that.

The role of the traditional 30 sec ad will also change, it will lose relevance as consumers will control what information they seek and when. So targeting by need states and by consumer segments will gain importance. And this certainly will be critical as the fragmentation will crazily drive up the cost per reach point. The pressure to make monies work harder will mount.

The new workplaces in the industry will get more flexible. A group of professionals with diverse expertise will collaborate as a team to deliver solutions/projects and then disperse. The old hierarchy & location based teams, client based captive teams that work in the respective discipline silos may perhaps loose out in favor of these flexi arrangements to ensure economies and right talent leveraging.

These are trends I see emerging to enable us to adapt to the new reality of Consumer in Control!

AG: How do you foresee India's growth in advertising vis-à-vis rest of South East Asia and why?

RB: India will grow substantially faster than the rest of SEA, at least for the first five years.

AG: It's been a trend in the industry that after gaining enough experience most of the people turn entrepreneurs, when do we see Ruby Bana in that avatar?

RB: Personally I feel in the consulting organisation the days of "The Organisation" will end, and the days of loosely held together professional like clubs will emerge.

These will be a bit like the Hospital - where to perform an operation a bunch of doctors from various disciple work together!

When this happens it will truly be days of satisfying and rewarding work! And yes I do think will be around for that. After all that is the Catalyst mandate!

AG: According to you is there any issue in the media, marketing and advertising industry that needs to be addressed?

RB: Yes there are many! But the starting point is the same - Money!

Clients have to pay for what they NEED not the lowest they can pay.

Agencies have to educate clients on what they need, and not take the easy way out of providing clients with the most efficient acceptable solution in what they get paid.

The focus has to be on ROI, not on COST. Good talent often costs more but always delivers ROI.


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