MUMBAI: Almost Rs 9,000 crore of advertising expenditure in India is wasted every year according to a new study which argues that marketers are too focused on core brands and certain media channels.

Market research company Nielsen analysed several years' worth of spending data across brands and categories for its report titled '7 Steps to Unlocking Marketing Effectiveness' and said that the 30% media wastage rate for India was at the top end of a global spectrum that ranged downwards to 15%.

"In many cases, there is no new message conveyed and the emphasis, more often than not, is on the mother brand, rather than extensions or variants," according to Nitya Bhalla, executive director, Nielsen India, and co-author of the report.

The other major challenge facing advertisers is the fragmentation of channels, and not just the rise of digital and mobile – the number of TV channels has grown sixfold over the past decade to almost 800, while the print sector has seen recent growth in regional language publications and brands have become increasingly local in their marketing.

But it is digital that is redefining how planners think about media. "Earlier brands would tap into media channels for building awareness, but now the emphasis is on the tangible benefit of advertising on a certain media channel," P M Balakrishna, COO at Allied Media, told the Business Standard.

Nielsen's solution to the wastage issue involves greater synergy between above-the-line and below-the-line activities; greater understanding of the life-stage of the brand to be advertised before deciding on the media mix; looking at avenues beyond traditional media, such as sponsorship; and using longer ad formats than the usual 30 seconds to communicate complex messages.

The Business Standard highlighted Hindustan Unilever (HUL), the FMCG business, as one advertiser that appeared to be following this route, with a focus on more efficient media buying and the effective use of media other than TV.

As regards the latter, HUL has found innovative and award-winning ways to promote its products, most recently with Kan Khajura Tesan, an on-demand entertainment channel delivered by mobile phone.

Earlier, its Lifebuoy soap used the unlikely medium of roti – by stamping a message on the bread – to remind people attending the Kumbh Mela to wash their hands before eating.

Data sourced from Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff