The sheer speed of change today redefines milestones and boundaries ever so often. Predictions therefore are of limited utility and the supposed pundit who attempts to do so, rather foolish. Having taken on this assignment, let me now proceed to make a spectacle of myself with scant respect to self-preservation.
Everyone’s invited; marketers, media owners, agencies and consumers, aboard this rollercoaster! Systemic shifts have disrupted the status-quo of participants and the front-of-line ticket now indisputably belongs to the consumers.
Consumers wield absolute control, decide the loops and inversions that turn our worlds upside down, at times into a complete freefall. Involved, opinionated and completely media agnostic, they are quickest in adapting, adopting, rejecting, discarding with equal alacrity and airing their opinions freely. They shape their own path and consume as per their convenience of time, space, technology.
Connectivity: Average speed on broadband has jumped from 0.5 Mpbs to 2.0 Mpbs, slated to reach 3.3 Mpbs in 2015, seven times the performance of 2013. Alongside this, improvement in compression has reduced the bandwidth required for data, video-on-demand streams, allowing broadcasters to serve more channels in the same bandwidth. It will both, improve the quality of service for the minority who use it and encourage others to adopt.
Technology: Mobiles, tablets, phablets, PCs, TVs will become smarter & smarter, with better processors & high resolution screens, available at increasingly lower costs, fueling penetration, which in turn will lead to further economies of scale. Smart, pricey fitness bands is not mainstream but has its niche followers. Smart glasses is very nascent, has to overcome multiple hurdles, but look most promising among the wearable.
Resulting in connected & converged consumption, serving the consumers’ need for entertainment and media like never before. Watching TV with a second screen in our hands or our laps. Viewing video live or later. An episode at a time or binging, consuming news on mobile, TV, net, perhaps newspapers.
Content will be the driver. Live content, specifically sports will command an increasing premium. The symbiosis between TV and sports is potent, commanding a passionate, fully engaged following like no other. An increase in the rights fees, broadcast production quality and costs, subscription, pay-per-view fees and sponsorship, advertising fees go hand-in-hand. Content tailor-made to the consumer, at times by the consumers will be served and shared. While smart TV will prompt and serve content basis earlier viewing pattern, social media sites are already serving information, sourced across publishers, basis consumer interest.
Video; subscriptions to both, C&S and specific video-on-demand will continue to grow alongside. Piracy will continue to thrive; better broadband networks facilitate illegal viewing of content such as Game of Thrones, etc.
Few Constants- and thank goodness for them
M&A- a question of survival- The rupture in the traditional narrative will continue to have media marketers reaching out to forge new bridges, mergers and acquisitions. 2015 is ripe for more of the same.
TV- traditional TV will continue to reign supreme in India, but nowhere is change more intense and complex than in video. Time-shifted, on-demand, device agnostic is already making its presence felt. While the where, when and what we watch will continue to evolve, TV remains the strongest of all media.
Print- growth will at best be sluggish with regional offerings the saving grace. Extensions onto online and other media is pure survival move for publishers.
Radio- Much is being made of Phase 3 of FM licensing. With the government’s price expectations exceeding ground realities in many markets, this has the makings of a still born.
OOH- the medium continues to have a very promising growth potential
Mobile and Internet- Digital India has gone mobile. 3G services, advent of 4G and falling smartphone prices have all contributed to mobile being the new mass medium, with penetration across strata. Both mobile and digital will go regional in 2015 with more languages gaining over English. Text messaging, both SMS and MIM will co-exist in 2015. Real time bidding and programmatic buying will be the dominant mode of advertising
New TV measurement- will go through prolonged labour pain and be born again. Hopefully in H1 2015. Much more accurate, across a healthier sample size, this new methodology will track time-shifted viewing and eventually also integrate TV viewing on PCs, tablets and smartphones. This may provide a massive uplift for niche content, alongside much needed authenticity and accountability of TV investments.
E-commerce- will change the way Indians shop. Travel, retail, white goods, extending across categories with Flipkart, Snapdeal, Myntra, Jabong and the big daddy Amazon, here for the long haul. Their scale and willingness to operate at zero or negative margins, both delight consumers and represent a formidable force for brand marketers and competitors alike. And naturally communication investments will follow the consumer. Waiting in the wings, is Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and eVisits. Both potential game changers, with proper recognition and fostering.
Beginning and ending with consumers- Google, Amazon are prime examples of this. Every feature of Google serves consumers, making their life that much easier. Amazon too ruthlessly puts the consumer before marketers.
And being true to them- observe the frequency with which automobile manufacturers are recalling defective units. Shameful, unheard of a decade ago. Today as long as manufactures honestly admit and are willing to address shortcomings they are forgiven. Truth in what products do, how and by who they are made, truth in performance and, yes, truth in advertising. Truth; the one ingredient that breathes life into a brand and its communication.
The author is Divya Karani, CEO, Dentsu Media