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Traditional media will die, digital media will take over: Mahendra Swarup

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Traditional media will die, digital media will take over: Mahendra Swarup

Digital media is becoming a force to reckon with and shaking up traditional media like never before. Putting the spotlight on digital media, exchange4media organised the first ever Digital Media Conference in Mumbai on March 11, 2010. The theme of the Conference in its inaugural year was ‘Insights into the digital business’.

Mahendra Swarup, Chief Mentor, Smile Interactive, and President, Indian Venture Capital Association on Emerging Digital Trends, delivered the keynote address. He started out by giving an overview of the digital scene today and said, “Both the audience and technology for digital has grown today and billions of dollars are being invested in digital media. In the US, we have different mediums like iPads and pagers. In India, growth is poised to leap frog by 7.5 per cent to 8 per cent.”

Looking into the future, Swarup predicted that the print medium would die out even as the electronic arena was growing at an extremely fast pace, and along with were growing the content owners, advertisers and distributors. He added, “With the advent of digital, the paradigm of advertising will change. While traditional media currently is a one to million medium, digital facilitates a one to one interaction. Thus, more and more advertising will be done on a one to one basis. The launch of 3G in India, which is expected in April, will further grow the digital medium.”

Speaking about the challenges faced by digital media, Swarup said, “Despite the advantages offered by the medium, adaptation of digital media is not happening at the pace it should have been, mostly due to opposition and ignorance. There is always some resistance to any change. The reality of social media is quite different and there is no prime time on the Internet.”

Further stating that one could not hide anything in the digital world, Swarup cited the example of Coke and Pepsi and said, “Brand is the creation of advertisers. For example, Coke and Pepsi have some adverse effects on health, but the advertisers will never disclose those. However, people started discussions on online forums about the harmful effects of these cola drinks and shared relevant information. Thus, brands have to be present in the digital world to build greater connect. Consumers can take more informed decisions thanks to digital media. For instance, one can simply do a Google search and do a comparison of all the toothpaste brands and decide on which one is the best.”

Swarup noted that based on the online onslaught, “Pepsi has adopted a strategy wherein it is moving from cola beverages to healthy offerings such as juices and health snacks. They are not aggressively promoting their cold drinks, though these are still a big hit in India”.

“Digital media is powerful in the West. I will stand behind every Indian who wants to invest in digital media. Currently, digital media is worth Rs 120-150 million in India. The Digital Media Awards initiative of the exchange4media Group is a great idea and in the next 7-10 years, these Awards will grow to be a big hit. Things are changing fast. Today, there are 50-plus million Internet subscribers in India. With a population of 1.3 billion, the scope for this medium to grow is great,” he added.

Speaking on the scope of mobile advertising, Swarup said, “Mobile advertising is the next big thing. Mobile is a P2P (people to people) device, however, I don’t see mobile advertising catching on in a big way here, though mobile will play a key role in decimating information. For instance, if you aware of the product price, then you will pay accordingly, the more you know about a product, the less you will pay. The brands which were making disappropriate advertising on television, will make less in digital.

Swarup concluded his address by summing up, “India is going to adapt digital at a faster rate in times to come, and we are not going to copy from the West. Digital is tomorrow, however the challenge is that digital advertising is not growing at the required pace. Use of landline phones is declining, while mobile usage in growing fast. Today there are 100 million TV households in India, but the distribution cost of DTH is high. Print is surviving, though it is slowing dying in the West. On the other hand, penetration of digital is increasing. Internet will become cheaper in coming days. As for Internet speed, laser broadband enables download in less than 3 minutes, and India is set to be an early adapter of laser broadband.

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