2014 is already here and quite a few things that we spoke about as being ‘in the future’ are already upon us. Usually, this is also the time of the year when crystal ball gazing into the trends for the forthcoming year starts. I have been doing this as a ritual for the last decade or so, but I can assure you its only getting harder, not easier, to predict trends.
Some of the key trends that I foresee in 2014 are:
Consolidation of media owners: 2013 saw consolidation at the agency side. The Dentsu-Aegis merger, the Publicis-Omnicom merger and others hogged the limelight. 2014 will see the same on the media owners’ side. The television broadcasters will consolidate, as there is just no space for so many channels. I feel, in the long run, not more than 4-5 players per genre will survive. The weak will be merged into the fitter players and a wave of consolidation will sweep the industry. OOH will see the same. There are probably 15,000 plus media owners in that space. Consolidation is bound to happen.
Research data migration related chaos: In 2014, the industry is going to see the biggest migration of research data, both in the print and in the broadcast arenas. The industry, hopefully, is moving towards more robust data gathering and reporting under the aegis of BARC in TV and RSCI in print. This will be good in the long run, but in 2014, it will be naïve not to expect some pain and chaos when the migration from the old to the new researches takes place. However, since the end result will be in our interest, we need to bite both those bullets in 2014.
Year of Activation and BTL: There is a clear trend of shifts in client spends from ATL to BTL. With the increase of modern trade, the desire to reach and engage the consumer directly is increasing for the advertisers. In 2000, the ATL: BTL spends ratio was approx. 80:20. Aegis Media calculations indicated that by 2015 this may change to 50:50. There is a clear trend and need for areas such as Events, Ground Activation, Retail and Rural Marketing to get their space in the marketing spends. 2014 will see this trend increase.
Monetising mobile & omnipresence of digital: You don’t need to be a trend spotter to suggest that digital as a medium will continue gaining importance. Yes, that will happen, but a clear trend will be that after a decade of using mobile for basic SMS type advertising, thanks to 3G and perhaps 4G, we may finally see a way to monetise mobile advertising. We’ve all heard of the 700+ million mobile users, but as an industry not learnt, so far, as to how to convert that to an effective advertising medium. 2014 will lay the foundation for the same.
Content will be king & will be medium agnostic: One of the outcomes of the rapid digital development will be that content will become medium agnostic. A consumer will be interested in a good content that he/she can relate to, but it won’t matter to them whether content was viewed on TV or on the PC during a lunch break. This will pose a new set of challenges for the broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies, who invariably tend to trail the consumer, rather than lead him.
These are some of the key trends in the Indian media industry that I foresee in 2014. Like every year, I will revisit them at the end of 2014 to evaluate which trends gathered momentum and which didn’t. What’s important to remember is that often trends transcend years because no one gives a calendar to a trend!
The author is Chairman India & CEO South East Asia - Aegis Media.