The year 2012 has indeed been an extremely dynamic one not just for the media industry, but for the larger ecosystem as well.
This year saw the inception of some great movements, be it the anti-corruption movement or the more recent fight for justice against the gory gang rape in the Capital. This was also the year that saw the public at large becoming more aware and more assertive and that was in some ways made possible by the active role media has begun to play in the country, be it print or electronic, and more recently social media.
Reminiscing about the year, one can clearly look back on a lot of changes that were challenging. With the economy being under the sort of stress that it was under, several industries contracted, unemployment increased and sentiments went southward, profitability remained under pressure, and the stock market stayed in suspended animation. But on the positive side, the digital world saw the arrival of new innovations and technologies and new categories being created. So, at one level consumer confidence might have shrunk due to inflation and the economic setbacks, but on the other hand, there was new found consumerism on display through the various online shopping and deal portals launched and heavily advertised (several survived, and a few beyond Flipkart also thrived, one understands!).
In terms of marketing, one of the biggest changes this year has been the integration of digital in practically every part of the mix – be it crowd-sourcing of content and creative (18 of the last 22 TVCs that HT has aired have been briefed, sourced, selected, and voted online through crowd-sourcing from readers), or indeed dissemination (who can forget the extreme viral-ity of the two excellent campaigns by The Hindu this year; given that the TG for the core campaign was localised, possibly as many people saw it online as on TV!) No wonder then that digital is not an experiment anymore that goes out of the CEO’s 5 per cent trigger but increasingly a core part of every brand initiative.
HT’s popular ‘No TV Day’ initiative in Mumbai was a huge success, promoted – apart from the core backbone of print of course – primarily through social media. HT’s technology led company, HT Mobile Solutions, offers creative solutions today for numerous brands in India through a combination of social media, mobile and internet.
2012 also saw the resurgence of print advertising in many ways, in the way it was often used smartly to not just stand out, but to engage and reach the consumer in several instances. To celebrate great advertising, HT Media Group published a book on ‘The Magic of Print’ with contributions from Alyque, Balki and Piyush.
This year also saw forays into new markets by various print brands such as Hindustan – into the last remaining areas of UP – and The Times of India, who ventured into Kerala and into Kolkata with its Bengali offering.
This was also a year where media houses and marketers stood up for greater accountability and an era of transparency in terms of ratings and measurements, affecting, on the one hand, the entire TAM ratings, which got challenged in court, and on the other hand, the IRS, which saw print media publishers, advertisers, and agencies coming together in the newly formed RSCI to create a state-of-the-art new IRS that is getting rolled out as one speaks.
Through 2012, many brands have also started taking greater social responsibility, particularly in the area of education. HT’s ‘You Read They Learn’ initiative was launched in 2012 with the mission of sending 10,000 kids to school every year. Coca-Cola India’s ‘Support My School’ campaign was another popular initiative contributing towards education in India, as was the Digital Literacy Mission driven by Intel and supported by Microsoft, NIIT and the Nasscom. Through such initiatives, companies are not just investing in brands, but also investing in the future of India.
Looking ahead, one believes 2013 will bring tidings of an economy that finally gets out of its sluggishness and of companies starting again to invest in building brands in a much bigger way. All the experimentation of the last year in new technology and new media will be integrated into businesses, catalysing the growth of the marketing and advertising worlds.
But one doesn’t expect to see an end to new experiments, new step-change technologies, and new ways of functioning, and a large number of agile, winning businesses will continue to constantly adapt in this ever-changing environment and equip themselves with the right tools for success.
The author is Business Head and Vice President, Marketing, HT Media.