Contributed by Dhruv Sahgal, Co-Founder, Business Operations,

Dhruv Sahgal

Despite the Internet being around for just over two decades, its impact, from an advertising perspective, has been revolutionary. Ad dollars now are flowing by the billions into online marketing where terms like CPM (Cost Per 1000 Impression) and CPC (Cost Per Click) are common in advertising. However, it is interesting that Internet ad spend for both mobile and wired is still far less than what is spent on traditional media (Out-of-Home, Print, TV & Radio).

According to PWC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2012-2016, Internet and Mobile advertising in 2011 was only around 18% of total ad spend in 2011 and projected to be just under 20% in 2012. This leaves nearly 80% of the other ad dollars spent in traditional media! This same report projects that Internet and Mobile advertising will barely reach 30% by 2016. Though the growth is strong in the online segment, it still is not as big or hyped up it’s made out to be.

There seems to be an obvious gap here, but also an obvious opportunity. If we dig a little deeper and look into how traditional media is bought and sold, we uncover some interesting insights.

In general, the MNCs of the world will tend to use big media agencies to help them find the right avenues to advertise. Media agencies assist in creating a campaign, planning the various distribution channels, and executing the media plan.

While the creatives deserve every bit of credit in fashioning the intended message, the purchasing of the media space often resides in a grey area. A MNC has no way of discovering advertising distribution channels themselves with the exception of the digital space. There is no centralized location to see who owns that Billboard in Lan Kwai Fung or how many luxury magazines exist in India or what are the viewership stats for Indonesian TV. The MNC relies solely on the media agency to ensure their ad dollars are spent efficiently and through the right distribution channels. Often times, despite the sizable budget, MNCs receive neither transparency nor measurable value for money.

What if you’re an SME looking to advertise your new widget you’ve just manufactured and can’t afford the steep commissions of top agencies? Trying to book advertising space locally or abroad by oneself is just like trying to find a house, book a flight, or source a supplier for steel in China without the Internet.

Traditional Advertising is ripe for change

It’s surprising that the Internet has transformed and revolutionized so many industries yet the latest technology to revolutionize the traditional advertising industry is still just the telephone. This begs the question to why nothing is being done to address this obvious problem for traditional advertising.

Having identified this gap in the market, the best solution to address this problem would be to take the buying and selling of traditional media online. As the whole world goes online, so should traditional media. With an online platform for all forms of traditional media, media buyers can easily search for offline media opportunities throughout the world. MNCs / SMEs can easily bypass the middleman for cheaper, more efficient and transparent media buys.

Traditional advertising is only one of the inefficiencies that exist today and there are plenty of opportunities out there for the brave to venture into solving. To quote Sir Richard Branson, “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”

Dhruv Sahgal spent most of his childhood in Singapore and graduated in electrical engineering and business from The Northeastern University, USA. On moving back to Singapore, he worked for one year with The Royal Bank of Scotland, however, Sahgal’s ambitions, inclination for tech, and restlessness led him to join the world of tech-startups. (

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