Prime Time Awards: 2017 is going to be the biggest year ever for media measurement in the country: C V L Srinivas

At the third edition of the exchange4media Prime Time Awards, C V L Srinivas, CEO of GroupM, South Asia, forecasted trends of 2017 and the opportunities it holds for the industry

e4m by Madhuwanti Saha
Updated: Jan 23, 2017 7:55 AM
Prime Time Awards: 2017 is going to be the biggest year ever for media measurement in the country: C V L Srinivas

At the third edition of the exchange4media Prime Time Awards, C V L Srinivas, CEO of GroupM, spoke on the "2017- A year of Opportunity" and touched upon measurement, mobile, accountability, industry growth rate and challenges. He started off by commenting on the quality of entries and the criteria of judging. He spoke about the observations he gathered from being the Jury Chair. He said, “The quality of entries was better than last year which indicates we are moving in the right direction.”

“However, FMCG advertising was overall a bit disappointing. Maybe FMCG advertising is focusing too much on long form content for digital and not paying attention to the good old 30 seconder that still has a role to play. Once upon a time FMCG really led the way with good work,” he added.

He went on to add that there was some extremely creative work from BSFI, cement, jewellery and ecommerce brands. 

Srinivas shared pointers on what the jury looked for, as he said, “It is how deep, strong and differentiated is the insight. Everything follows from there. The ones who emerged winners today have a powerful  insight. Some brands are overstretching themselves. 360 degree seems to be the flavour of the season, which is tortured to death. It is high time we look at doing fewer things and linking all of them up through a solid insight.”

Year 2017 and what it holds for the advertising market

He took a departure from PTA to talk about the year 2017 and his take on it. He started off with the challenges saying, “There are global uncertainties. There is economic recovery in India. However, volume growth is under pressure across most categories. There is also supply side cost pressure, which many of our clients are facing; which is leading them to control ad spends. These are challenging times. And when everything fails, we start blaming it on demonetisation. However, (this is) despite (the fact) that ‘Dangal’ crossed Rs 350 crore and all India vs England matches were sold out. But that’s a debate for another day.”

“Let us look at the growth rate in the market. Even today globally the advertising market is growing at 4.4 per cent as per the GroupM TYNY number. The total ad market is about $547billion. Few markets are doing well. China surprised last year with 7.5 to 8 per cent growth rate.  India was the fastest growing big ad market last year. Despite demonetization and the slow down we will probably end 2016 at 12 per cent over the previous year.  What’s 2017 going to look like? Given the challenges it will not be as high as 12 per cent but it’s still going to be double digits.”

Advertising growth in India versus global counterparts

Srinivas pointed out an interesting global trend and how India is at a better place; “Globally almost 80 per cent of the incremental ad growth is coming from digital, 14-15 per cent from TV and all other media account for the rest. India is evenly balanced, as 40 percent of the incremental ad growth is coming from digital, 40 percent from TV and 20 from the rest (print accounts for 14 per cent of the incremental growth). These are as per initial estimates for the year.  There is a lot of headroom for growth for all media unlike other markets.”

When it comes to sectoral trends the chief executive forecasted that BSFI, media, government automobile (to an extent), infrastructure, government sector will be “big this year in terms of ad spends and will grow in double digits.” He added, “2017 will be a defining year. We all know what’s happening on ecommerce, telecom and, to an extent, traditional retail and services. Some of these sectors will see consolidation. Then there are sectors like FMCG, real estate and durables which are facing challenges like volume and cost side pressures. Given the way different sectors are going to pan out, there are some lessons for all of us (advertisers and the media communications business) in terms of what kind of solutions perhaps need to be worked upon for which sector.”

A year of new initiatives

Srinivas put lot of emphasis on measurement. “For me 2017 is going to be the year of measurement. It is going to be the biggest year ever for media measurement in the country. There will be a lot of initiatives this year. For instance, BARC which has been expanding will get into digital ratings; ABC will start giving online data for online versions of newspapers and magazine; IRS which has been on the backburner for couple of years will bounce back with a much-improved product. The IRS numbers will be out before the end of this year,” he said.

With so many types of measurements by different industry bodies there lies a problem as pointed out by Srinivas, “Some of us in the industry have got together and realized that we are getting too fragmented as an ecosystem. We don’t have a common establishment survey that cuts across all these studies and gives us a base set of numbers.”

But he assured that there have been few initiatives taken by the industry bodies and that they are working towards that. “I really hope 2017 is the year we come out with a common establishment study.”

Srinivas believes that measurement is fine up to a certain point. He suggested, “You cannot kill creativity and innovation with too much of measurement. If there is balance in play we will be better off.” 

Under the same context he made another significant point on accountability, “It’s also going to be a year of lot more accountability which clients are going to force advertisers and media partners to show whether it’s accountability in terms of viewability of digital advertising. Also, we will see lot more transparency being demanded by clients from media owners, agencies and media partners.”

Srinivas takes it as a positive sign. He explained, “More the accountability more belief will be on advertising and its results.”

He talked about the other positive spots in the industry, “TV is still the number one mass media in the country. In our estimate, it’s still close to 50 percent of AdEx. 40 per cent of the incremental ad growth comes from TV. If you look at the numbers with regards to household, reach and viewership from two years they are all up. There are opportunities with digitization, with niche and HD channels opening. So, TV is here to stay.”

At the same time, he mentioned the challenges from a TV owner and advertiser’s perspective, “Times have changed. Advertisers have a lot more options with consumers spending time across multiple media platforms. Thus, advertisers who do not get the right price value equation on TV unlike five or 10 years ago will not hesitate to experiment with other media platforms. So, this year there will be lot more experimentation from clients.”

“I foresee that a lot of the sectors that we believe are traditional TV sectors will spend lot more money experimenting with new media platforms, especially digital.”

Mobile marketing to take centerstage

Srinivas is also expecting mobile to take centerstage with all traditional media and media channels gravitating towards it. “TV owners are getting into OTT platforms, print publishers are spending a lot more time on digital products and the measurement system is following suite. So it’s going to be the year when mobile will start taking centerstage. We recently set up the MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) in India. We incubated it last year. A board has been set up under the chairmanship of D Shivkumar (CEO, PepsiCo India), and the agenda is to evangelise the mobile sector in India. There are a lot of things we need to do to better organise the mobile ecosystem, like what kind of creative formats work, what kind of standardisation we need to have, given the challenges the medium like mobile has.”

With so much happening, what’s in it for agencies, advertisers and media owners, he wondered out loud. 

“Because of the multiple platforms and data points there’s confusion and chaos in the lives of our clients. So, there’s an opportunity for agencies to become even more relevant today by moving up the value chain. It’s time agencies invest in technology, talent, data and move up the value chain to become the most trusted business partner for their client,” he said.

What about advertisers?  “There is still a lot of herd mentality and we see it often within sectors. But we will hopefully start seeing a lot more experimentation going forward It will be a good practise to set aside a small part of the media budget to experiment and learn.”

Another challenge clients and advertisers have is the fragmented nature of their own structures. “It becomes an issue for us sometimes to deal with multiple verticals at the clients end especially when each one moves in a different direction. We need to see lot more integration on the advertisers’ side as well just as we need to simplify the agency ecosystem.”

With so much of digital consumption happening, he advises traditional media owners to build strong equity that can be leveraged across multiple media formats and integrate their offerings a lot more. “In tough times value partnerships because it is the long-term partners who are going to stand by you when you need them,” he said.

The Prime Time Awards were presented by & TV and powered by Zee Media.

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