The Indian media industry in 2018 was coloured by a strong recovery after it suffered some hiccups due to demonetization, GST etc which led to lower media consumption as well as reduced ad spends. 2019 will be a strong year for the industry, fueled by a robust economy, solid domestic demand and the continued surge in digital access and consumption.
India is ranked third in terms of contribution to the world’s Adex and in 2019, it is expected to touch $1.35B. India’s Adex grew by an estimated 13% in 2018 and is forecast to grow by over 14% in 2019. This is an extremely good number when you compare it to the global forecast of 3.9%. With very well-funded Unicorns like Byju’s, Swiggy etc on the block, E-commerce advertising is expected to play a major role in this growth. The number of people shopping online is growing fast and is expected to touch 50% of all internet users by 2026. The appetite of Indian consumer is increasing very fast and the advertisers are willing to spend big to tap into this.
New Platforms& Tech
Over the last few years several new platforms and technologies have emerged making the life of the marketer much easier. Data continues to play a major role in decision making. OTT platforms are thriving and players like Netflix are now coming up with original content. Television Attribution is a technology with which a marketer can optimize his media spends and get higher ROI’s. While this tech is widely used in the western markets, it is seeing an increased interest in India as ecommerce players continue to increase their ad spends and are looking for ways to track and optimize this spend. Going forward, AI will play a key role in making big advertising decisions.
Awards & Talent
Piyush Pandey did India proud when he got appointed as the Chief Creative Officer for Ogilvy Worldwide. History was created at the Cannes for India in 2018 when we won not just one but two Grand Prix’s. India also won nine metals at the 2018 New York Festivals Advertising Awards. Let’s look forward to another stellar year as India continues to rock the international scene in 2019.
Penetration of Digital
We can talk about expansion digital in terms of data, Internet subscribers, smartphones sold, or per capita data consumption. But what is noteworthy is how digital landscape is shifting to be more inclusive. There are now digital agencies operating out of small towns and delivering excellent work. They are serving big and small players of the region without being part of any network. Another benchmark is how these smaller towns are producing some big names in the tech startup industry such as InstaCar, Locus, HackerKernel, and IndibniThese startups have proven to be big advertising business for small and big agencies.
Data and Technology Trends
Trend 1: Conversational AI (Chatbots)
Going forward, a large number of brands will be using Chatbots to engage with users to offer a highly personalized and contextualized experience. These bots will become more specialized depending on the domain where the tech is deployed – finance, eCommerce food tech, cabs etc. Brands are very keen to offer 24X7 personalized conversations to every consumer and these bots will do the same for them and become seamless in the external communication strategy.
2019 will see more and more companies handing over their customer communication to chatbots.
Trend 2: Voice Assistants
Indian market has been very proactive in adapting the voice technology in its various forms in 2018, such as voice assistants on smartphones or as smart home assistants. Asia-Pacific region is spearheading this growth, most notably India, China and Indonesia. The challenge now is how to monetize it.
The interesting aspect to look forward to in the advertising industry in 2019 will be the battle between the two most popular voice assistants (Alexavs Google). The duo will continue from proprietary speakers and wireless headphones to other voice enabled devices. Expect more turf war (intense advertising) to gain access to our voice in every possible environment to deliver the ease of consuming and ordering both physical goods (voice enabled commerce) as well as digital content.
Trend 3: Programmatic Media Buying
Use of AI in Programmatic media buying improves efficiency and helps in making better budget decisions for the advertiser. Deep learning algorithms give us the ability to automatically adjust activations in real time in response to the changing market dynamics. These activations include dynamically amending creatives, changing website content, or bringing in changes based on seasonal differences.
Currently, machine learning has widely been deployed in RTB (Real-time bidding) platforms to aid with bidding strategies (for media buying), fraud detection, dynamic creative optimization etc. Expect this to grow to other aspects like recommendation for specific strategies derived from vast amount of data.
Trend 4: Advanced Brand safety & Fraud detection
With marketers continuing to grapple with increasing losses due to ad fraud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to be at the forefront in the war against it. With ad fraud methods getting more and more sophisticated, only AI can keep pace, or better still, stay ahead of the constantly evolving fraud techniques. The AI-based approach has the ability to crunch through multidimensional data and self-learn as it goes along. With increased sophistication deployed by fraudsters, the algorithms currently in use in media buying platforms need to constantly evolve.
Expect current vendors to increase the sophistication of its use in their already specialized products to ensure brand safety and prevent fraud.
Empowering women in the industry
The silence has been broken with the #MeToo movement. It has clearly shown the dark side of the industry not just at the India level but at the global level. Thanks to the first few women who were brave enough to come out in the open and talk about it, the industry had a shake down and people responsible for it got penalized. The movement also brought some fresh air in the agency space. People are now more conscious and respectful of boundaries so that women can feel safer in this environment. The movement has also brought the issue of gender pay gap to the fore. 2019 will see even more women leaders emerging at all levels.
Media trends of 2018 and forecast for 2019
Finally, the industry has been able to come at par with the intricacies of GST and has left behind the effects of demonetization. The business is up and running at full scale again. I would say that the novel advertising category to emerge in 2018 was OTT platforms. Both Amazon and Netflix took the baton for the category and were fighting an intense advertising battle to promote their shows across the country. They spent money across all advertising platforms. Other than that, there were the usual categories such as Handsets, E-commerce, FMCG, Automobile.
Interestingly, 2019 will see OTT and the above-mentioned categories continue their spending. However, general elections will add a significant portion to the adex in the year. The ad rates on news channels & print publications will go up and so will the viewership & readership of these platforms respectively.
Top Creatives of 2018 that moved the needle for the brand
Swiggy IPL Ads
These series of ads by Swiggy clearly showcased the USP of Swiggy in a fun manner. Cleverly interspersed with very apt cricket commentary playing in the background, it was an absolute rocker.
My roots being from Kerala, this ad is very close to my heart. After the initial chaos brought on by the floods died down, the next challenge was on how to revive the economy and the tourism in Kerala . Samsonite’s #We are Open campaign put exactly that in the spotlight. It brought to the fore, the hopes and dreams of various people who are dependent on tourism for their livelihood. Beautifully done.
HUL The Shower
The ad beautifully drives home the message of water conservation by showcasing the disparity that exists in the world in terms of availability of water. On one side are people living a life of plenty, with no thoughts on how scarce or how precious water is to some. The last line of the ad is bang on!
Policy Bazaar Akhsay Kumar Ads
The optimists amongst us might not think much of life insurances. In this ad the actor Akshay Kumar, playing the mythological character Yamdev, drives home the point that insurance is cheap and easy to buy online. So it should be a no-brainer for anyone with a good conscience who loves their family. And for the rest, hell awaits…
Amazon Alexa Ad
I love the abandon with which the guy dances in the ad, and the wife and kid’s reaction is the icing on the cake. This ad showcases how an Amazon Alexa fits seamlessly into everyday family life and brings in music and fun into the living room with the help of AI and connectivity.
The article is written by Bindu Balakrishnan, Country Head, DCMN India.