With New Year celebrations over, the media sector is back to business, and a lot of action can be expected from the sector during 2007. Cutting Edge Media ‘s Rohinton Malloo, who has been involved with various channel launches in the country, from STAR Plus to Prime Sports and HBO to Cartoon Network, draws up a very futuristic scenario as he talks about where media is headed next.
Digital is the way ahead for media, according to Malloo, who feels that the huge potential of the digital world had not yet been tapped in India. What he terms as ‘weapons of mass attraction’ are the various different media that companies are trying to incorporate into one package, and going ‘360 degrees’ by venturing into print, television as well as the Internet at one go. But a company cannot go 360 unless technology is used correctly. “The future is in digital and the mobile phone. We have to use technology for our benefit, and not allow technology to use us,” he said.
According to Malloo, the need of the hour in advertising was for it to be interactive. “It needs to be more engaging than the passive experience of looking at an ad on a hoarding or a print, or even watching it on television. There needs to be a deeper interactivity in it. Because advertising is all about delivering the message to the right person at the right time and place, it is more about context and target, rather than branding,” he added.
Like a Domino pizza ad that can spring up on a computer screen at 11.30 in the morning, advertising needs to be at a particular place targeting the right person at the right time. Or a screen on the side of your trolley that can give you a lowdown on the calories in a packet of cornflakes as you stroll down a grocery store, for instance. Or a barcode that can be scanned from your cell phone at a restaurant, with the bill being sent along with the mobile bill, are some of the possibilities that Malloo is talking about.
“But government regulations cannot permit most of these things, as the government is still not even aware about most developments in the market like IPTV. Consumption of media and technological development changes so fast that no government can keep abreast with it quick enough,” he said.
“You can’t watch TV and movies on a mobile phone yet, but in Japan, it is the most popular thing. The problem is that a 30-minute soap or a 3-hour film cannot be watched on a cell phone. These soaps and films have been shot for the television screen and cinema screens and not for the mobile screen. You have to shoot for mobile, and you cannot take certain shots that you may take in cinema for that, but change the way in which the movie or programme is made,” he further said.
One of the other big changes coming up, according to him, was that television would shift to IPTV. “By 2009, IPTV will bring interactive communication to television. Most TV sets will be Internet-enabled. Because you cannot feel comfortable watching television on a computer set, the best option is to view Internet on television instead,” he added.
“What India needs is a communication act, which will take us into the next generation. There aren’t enough regulatory provisions for everything. Since piracy is a big problem, recording is very easy on IPTV. Any video or film being screened on television then can get copied and sold. This can lead to major problems of protection,” cautioned Malloo.
Another hindrance that IPTV could face is that TV channels are not offering interactivity within themselves. “I should be able to click on an image on television and get a complete information on it. Sooner or later television channels will be compelled to provide this, when there is enough competition,” he ssid.
Malloo also estimated that social networking websites would increase, and that advertising revenue was expected to grow 300 times from what it was now. “Blogging does not mean Internet alone, as it will soon get onto the mobile, like email and messenger have already been getting onto,” he said.
Gaming is another great potential in the near future. “Most of the games that are available can merely have ads incorporated into them. A Formulae One car game, for instance, can have banners on the sides of cola, and the virtual petrol that is filled in before or during the game can be of HP petrol. This is one way to integrate the brands with the games,” he added.
Advergaming, on the other hand, could get the company to create a game on the website for the particular brand. “That would mean 15-30 minutes of engagement with the client, as compared to a mere 2-3 minutes of engagement with a television advertisement,” he said, adding , “It could also get complete detail of the user, who would enter their age, sex and other information while playing the game.”
According to him, the entire scope of news and a newspaper would also change in the coming years. “The word newspaper will not exist as a word in the next 10-15 years. I am not saying that there will be no news, and that there will be no print, but the focus will change. Reading newspapers is a habit for those who have been doing that since years. It is like smoking. The current generation takes information from Internet because they are simply not in the habit of reading the papers.”
That, according to him, was where the growth of the tabloid was coming in. “Newspaper readership is declining all over, and companies are getting into co-brand experiences, a prime example being Shekhar Gupta on NDTV’s ‘Walk The Talk’ show. In the next generation, the term newspapers will change in meaning, and they will have to call themselves something else,” he added.
Metasearch engines will provide customised news on the Internet. “Just as you can search for the best airfare online through one major metasearch engine, you will be able to search for news customized for you in the same manner. You should be able to prioritise what you want to read,” he added.
According to Malloo, there was nothing like a future media. “Anything new that you can think of in the media is already happening somewhere else. You can never know what is going to happen in the next five years, or for that matter even in the next three years,” he said. The only way, according to him, to know was to understand what the media was capable of doing, and using technology to our advantage rather than becoming a slave of it.