Voice, video & languages to get bigger in 2020: Prasanth Kumar

In a chat with exchange4media, Prasanth Kumar, CEO, GroupM, says when the market sentiment was poor, advertising did not come to a standstill but was done smartly enough to suit the needs of the time

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Jan 23, 2020 9:46 AM


Prasanth Kumar

How are brands leveraging the growth of content? How did media agencies survive the slowdown in the year gone by and what opportunities does 2020 have for the industry? Sharing insights on these queries was Prasanth Kumar, CEO, GroupM, in an interaction with exchange4media.

PK, as he is popularly known, says many brands have actually grown in 2019. Even when the market sentiment was poor, advertising did not come to a standstill. It was just done smartly enough to suit the needs of the time, he said.

Excerpts from the interaction:

Brands have been using content to advertise, educate and entertain. What do you think about this growth in content marketing?
The fact is a lot is going on because there are abundant opportunities. As we all know, there are a number of new platforms which have opened up like in OTT. Content in traditional media itself is increasing. We have got more than 50,000 hours in just the top 25 channels. So all of this is actually giving birth to newer space to experiment where newer ideas are triggering new concepts. That's also helping some of the brands to look at some of the bolder aspects on how they can connect with the consumers. Then there is lot of technology and data available that is helping us to get insights faster and use the same for some actionable plan for the client. All these are really forthcoming and encouraging, and that’s actually shaping the ecosystem to come up with better ideas to try out new formats and new products. So yes, it’s an exciting phase.

How do you think the usage of content is evolving? What did the clients ask for in this phase?
Doing content associated activities for brands is not anymore just in movies or music and sports, there are a lot of web series and short films too. There are content creators for brands for just representing the attribute and treating brand in a way that it communicates with the consumer in a slightly more innovative and inventive fashion. Leveraging influencers, local celebrities and influencers is another important aspect that is shaping up. But all this is not putting native advertising behind in any form. So simpler ideas but stronger and bolder aspects help the brand to communicate with consumers better.

What is required is that brands should experiment, especially in such phases where we are seeing lots of challenges across businesses. Content is a very powerful tool as it allows you to create new habits for the consumer. I think the creators have also expanded. All this put together has made content a powerful tool.

How did media agencies survive the slowdown? What are clients asking for in this slow phase?
It is really important that whatever we are doing plays back to progress and solutions for growth. Value for growth is absolutely the number one aspect.

This is a phase when brands are actually up there in the effort to reach out to consumers because advertising is not a reason for the slowdown. So the question is how to use advertising and marketing as a solution to get business up and how to do it intelligently? So communication in such times needs to be more frequent and effective, and these are the aspects brands are looking at. So creativity, insights and an effective plan make the winning formula for brands in such times.

We are still far better than some of the markets globally and brands are growing. We're sitting with opportunities because we have a large audience. So how we use these to make it work for each other is the big deal. Definition of success is actually very dynamic. For some categories 70 per cent equals success, for others it is 10 per cent. There are categories where growing 2 per cent is also a big deal. So I think we just have to be at it. I think, across sectors, it's also a pit stop for all of us to pause and think about what is the new way of looking at things for the next two to three years.

How has the year gone by been for GroupM? What are you looking forward to in the new year?
We had a good year in 2019. A number of business we won in 2018 actually started in 2019. We also had a lot of new business come in. That's one way of looking at how things are progressing. At the same time, I think the solutions which we have been talking about for clients also progressed making it more inventive and relevant for them.

So there's been a lot of work being done within the space of content, sports and digital and data. Even on-ground activities have gone up taking clients closer to consumer marketing. This is an important factor that many brands are using as their winning formula. So all that has helped us and I think 2020 will add to it. What is important for us is the speed. The speed at which we respond, change and adapt. You got to try few things, experiment with few things and take a bit of risk too. That’s how we see this year going on.

What according to you will be the key trends of 2020?
I think the intelligence of technology is going to be a good trend, whether it is in format or space of content or innovation. Brands that would get into consumer marketing will see larger growth. Voice, video and languages will play a larger role in 2020.

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