'Advertisers should look at metaverse, blockchain applications as an opportunity'

Atique Kazi, GroupM India President-Data, Performance and Digital Products, talks about evolving trends in digital advertising ecosystem besides the work being done by the agency to help its clients

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Feb 8, 2022 8:53 AM  | 12 min read

E-commerce, addressability, performance marketing, and data will be the key focus areas for GroupM in 2022, says GroupM India President - Data, Performance and Digital Products Atique Kazi. In an interview with exchange4media, Kazi spoke at length about the evolving trends in the digital advertising ecosystem besides the work being done by the agency to help its clients in areas like connected TV, e-commerce, and creator economy.


As President of Data, Performance and Digital Products, what will be your key agenda for GroupM in 2022?

The areas that I would be focussing on would be e-commerce, addressability, performance marketing and data. When it comes to e-commerce, what I am trying to do is to reimagine our e-commerce practice that enables our clients to be on top of their game in media commerce, brand dot com, and marketplace activities. On the addressability side, I am sowing the seeds of addressability for the future and launching India’s first addressable TV solution. My third focus area is performance marketing. The idea is to craft our performance marketing offering into a full-funnel marketing ecosystem that would deliver hard outcomes to our clients. Lastly, it’s about collaborating with my colleagues at GroupM to create a robust data spine that feeds into every single Operating Company (OpCo) and specialist functions within GroupM to give them that data edge.

India has emerged as a testing laboratory for tech companies. Do you see agencies following suit wherein advertising and marketing solutions and innovations will come out of India and then travel to global markets?

Absolutely! There have been a lot of innovations that are India-first. If you look at the GroupM ecosystem, there have been certain data applications where we have ingested first-party data and looked at other sources to create cohorts, and on that basis, given outcomes to clients. From an innovation lens, there is a lot of work happening in the areas of addressable TV, automated content recognition, etc. The role of an agency is to really go ahead and use these levers, try it out in India, scale them up and then possibly take it across the world. In India, we have seen data through a different lens. We have seen a lot of innovation and application of data sets that have come out of India.

According to you, what are the key trends to watch out for in 2022?

There are five or six important trends to watch out for. 1) Brands will focus on communication led by purpose, diversity, and inclusion that resonates with their audiences. This will not be limited to millennials or GenZs but it will apply to all sets of audiences. 2) Marketing and advertising teams will see massive restructuring both at the advertiser and the agency level. There are lots of opportunities and challenges in the digital era. 3) Creator economy will create content around the customer and that will play a very pivotal role across all funnels of advertising. 4) Advertisers can’t shy away from Metaverse, NFT, blockchain, and cryptocurrency-based applications. I think this will go beyond the fad and you will start seeing a lot of use cases in this space with our advertisers. 5) Big debate on privacy, user consent, zero party data, federated learning, and data clean rooms will be a part of all advertising events without a miss.

How is the Indian advertising ecosystem responding to technological innovations like Metaverse, NFT, and blockchain?

It’s early days, but a lot of brands are already experimenting and trying to see where they can possibly have a massive play on metaverse and where it makes sense at this point in time. Obviously, we know that there are lots of use cases in the gaming sector. Brands are trying to get into the games and play their metaverse version out there. I feel that a lot of other industries will start adapting metaverse applications in India, and they will be somewhere focused on areas of infrastructure, retail, and social media. So, clients on this side would adopt metaverse first in these areas in 2022.

What opportunity does CTV provide to advertisers?

This is one area that agencies and advertisers cannot ignore because of the rapid growth of users in the CTV space is phenomenal. To begin with, advertisers should start looking at CTV advertising through the lens of household targeting and not online video advertising. That’s the key differentiation, to begin with. CTV brings starting point of addressable TV into the market. Very soon we will see linear TV that will also start becoming addressable TV in some manner. We have seen that in the US, UK, and Australia. With CTV, advertisers can actually start building a unified approach on TV advertising on both people connected via the linear feed and the CTV feed. We have a very omnichannel view that comes through this. This will help us in three broad scenarios. Advertisers can look at CTV to build incremental reach curves. They can also build efficiency on the overall TV plan on cost per impression views. In some cases, they can also do razor-sharp targeting to a household in a specific geo key like a postcode that has a high concentration of their target users in that geography.

Advertising on e-commerce marketplaces is gaining a lot of traction. What is driving the advertising growth for e-commerce platforms?

Earlier, media planners used to evaluate publishers on the basis of eyeballs for media buying. Now, planners are evaluating marketplaces on category transactions. This is a change of mindset that one has seen in marketplace advertising. Today, a lot of e-commerce marketplaces feature on the Top 30 publisher list in terms of share of ad spends. That is something new that we are seeing in 2021 and 2022. I predict that we would have at least four players among the Top 20 publishers in terms of ad spend share that would be e-commerce led. Amazon and Flipkart are dominant players in the e-commerce advertising ecosystem but there are so many other marketplaces that are growing tremendously and there are millions of shopping nano moments that are being created on e-commerce which provide a huge opportunity to have an always-on e-commerce advertising approach for brands.

The whole video advertising opportunity around making shopping intent data addressable on quality inventory and optimising it on hard return on advertising spends or transactions is where we will see a massive increase coming. The creator economy also helps to scale the video commerce aspect of it through social commerce, live sale events, drops, seasonal edits, and ad-funded short-form videos.

As far as social commerce is concerned, where do you see a large chunk of ad dollars going because short video platforms have pivoted to social commerce while e-commerce platforms are also doing influencer-led commerce?

Spends will stay where the audiences are. A large part would be played by the creator economy because audiences are following these creators. As I said, the creators will create content around these customers. Anywhere the customer is you would start seeing that a large part of the focus will be towards these short-form videos. We have seen that in markets like Indonesia, China, and Thailand, and we will soon start seeing that trend getting adopted here as well. The baseline of where the shopper intent is and the data that is passed back through these ecosystems like the big marketplaces, we will see a fair share of advertising money going in that space.

Do you think performance marketing will continue to hold sway over other forms of digital advertising in 2022 since it delivers actual results?

I agree and disagree that it will hold sway because the nature of performance marketing itself is that it gives you the lower funnel acquisition and that is the reason it will hold sway over other forms of digital advertising. If you look at it from a holistic point of view the attribution towards the lower side of the funnel is not really fair because what we have seen is that without effective spends on the top and middle funnel of advertising, performance advertising at a larger spend dries out. I believe that having the right measurement and accountability at top and middle funnel media investments which really impact the lower funnel is definitely the way forward. Due to the death of last-mile attribution, the industry is moving towards a multi-touch attribution model where insights and analytics can play a massive role to figure out where the conversion is coming from and the right weightage can be given to those specific touchpoints. Performance marketing will hold sway but it will transform into a full-funnel marketing approach.

The share of programmatic advertising within the overall digital advertising pie is expected to go up significantly in 2022. Can you explain why programmatic advertising is being touted as a one-stop solution for advertisers?

When I started my programmatic journey back in 2010 with Yahoo-owned Blue Lithium followed by Xaxis, we started with the vision that one day all advertising will become digital, and digital advertising will become programmatic. Digital advertising provides targeting, precision, and measurement, but at the same time, it also brings a lot of variety and complexity. For example, online video advertising has been a big driver of growth for the industry but the decisions to be made are so many like do I go AVOD, do I go BVOD, do I look after brands, ad fraud, viewability, channel type, location, demo, time spent, quartile reports, creatives, ad fatigue, frequency, and the list goes on. Programmatic advertising offers a method to the madness and what’s happening is that new channels like radio and outdoor content are becoming more and more digital. It’s important to access these in a programmatic way for better delivery and better one view. It also enables the use of new-age technologies like AI, ML, first-party data, and federated learning where one can have a full view of advertising spends and then try to deliver a very omnichannel hyper-personalised approach to advertising spends. It definitely has some blockers where we have to deal with walled gardens which are here to stay.

Google will be phasing out third-party cookies and will be replacing them with an interest-based advertising solution called Topics. How is the Indian digital advertising industry preparing for the cookieless advertising era?

The role of cookies for advertisers initially was decision-making on whom to show the ad and when to show the ad. From an India market perspective, when you look at it from a targeting lens, I don’t see a massive impact because India is predominantly a mobile-first market. The effect of cookie deprecation will be in the area of measurement. We have already seen in Western markets that third-party measurement systems which were thriving have been severely affected and the effect is seen in the areas of consumer tracking, cross-platform analytics, basic measurement metrics in terms of viewability and target reach. The cookie deprecation will also push us one step back on universal frequency capping as well. The new framework tries to solve these impacted areas but I haven’t seen them doing really well. Even Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) hasn’t been successful. As a result, I feel that contextuality will get its fair share back. In the new privacy era, marketers will have to move from precision marketing to predictive marketing frameworks. The predictive marketing framework will be on the basis of first-party data which they need to ace their game on. I also feel that the Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) will become more prominent than the Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) in the future because the publishers with the consent of the users will be creating some amazing data sets and now it will be putting that information to SSPs. Earlier, we saw that DSP had the data and they used to overlay that on the SSP supply but now SSPs will bring in a lot of data signals and audience information.

What kind of solutions is GroupM planning to launch for clients?

From a GroupM perspective, we are channelising the entire market through the lens of programmatic to be accessed via Private Marketplace (PMP) because a large part of the business in India on programmatic is done on a programmatic guaranteed (PG) basis. While it has its advantages, I think the supply needs to be on PMP set-up to take advantage of the full potential of programmatic. We are working with publishers to get them on to a PMP set-up where we can access inventory and do addressability at its best. We are running certain projects like an SPO (Supply Path Optimization) where we are providing a lot of education to the publishers, working with SSPs to enable that. In 2022, a lot of supplies that we used to access via PG will now move on to PMP. It's very important for the publisher to go this route because if you look at large advertising ecosystems like YouTube, Google, or Facebook, they do offer this mechanism where one-to-one targeting is razor-sharp, it's always accessible, and you can make decisions on every single impression on an ad call that comes through. Until and unless our ecosystem and publishers don't move to the PMP set-up I see gaps that will continue to happen. 

How are advertisers preparing for marketing in the age of data privacy?

Every organisation will have its own data play and it will be a privacy-first data approach that every single party needs to bring on to the table. Advertisers will need to invest in Data Management Platform (DMP) solutions where they are harnessing user information about the data where they can possibly have personal level data and then how they can connect it to the addressable level of data from thereon. Agencies like us would have their own DMPs. Publishers have already moved in that direction with the GDPR thing that we saw in the market where all publishers have now started to get consent from their users upfront. So, now data will start sitting in these three specific cohorts and the new space is where technology will play an important role and you will see new investments and applications coming through in the form of data clean rooms or data safe rooms where I can bring in my data without the risk of it being compromised and then take it to get more insights or better targeting or better addressability on that. We will see that part of the ecosystem gaining traction. 

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AI regulations in India: Privacy first, say agencies

Industry players are clear that offensive and violent forms of generative AI should be fully controlled with regulations in place to ensure transparent data practices

By Shantanu David | Jun 1, 2023 8:31 AM   |   4 min read

Tech Talk

This promises to be an eventful June when it comes to conversations around Artificial Intelligence, with Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI (the creator of ChatGPT), set to visit India this month even as the Indian government finally releases its long-awaited Digital India Act, which is said to contain a set of guardrails for use of AI in the country.

The global artificial intelligence market size was estimated at USD 136.6 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach USD 196.6 billion in 2023, a figure that is expected to inflate to 2 trillion U.S. dollars by 2030.

After discussing why there is a need for AI regulation, specifically in the advertising and media industry, in a previous article, exchange4media asked insiders about the specific guidelines they think would be needed for our industry.

AI is a broad term, with some elements of it being there as a tool for automation, data analytics, market trend monitoring, and organizational management use. 

“What we now see and talk about is mainly Generative AI. Tools that are widely accessible and easy to use can be easily manipulated. Some regulations have to be implemented,” says John Paite, Chief Creative Officer (ART & TECH) Media.Monks India. He points out that regulation of non-consensual recreation or digital cloning, voice or face of any individual, stands out as a clear line that should not be crossed.

“Developers need to take this seriously as it has to come from model training stages. Offensive and violent forms of generative AI should also be fully controlled. Ultimately, there should always be a clear communication to the end user from the developers on all the important points of using Generative AI,” he adds.

Privacy First

Amitt Sharma, CEO, VDO.AI, agrees, observing that with the increasing use of AI in advertising, there is a wealth of consumer data being collected, analyzed, and utilized. “I believe regulations should focus on ensuring transparent data practices, obtaining proper consent, and safeguarding personal information.”

“Another critical aspect that should be addressed is algorithmic transparency. As AI algorithms become more sophisticated, they play a significant role in targeting and personalization. In response to these concerns, I am aware that a number of governments are considering regulations for AI in advertising,” says Sharma.

The European Union has already passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which sets strict rules for the collection and use of personal data. Additionally, other countries such as the United States are also contemplating similar regulations to address these issues.

“The advertising and marketing landscape is constantly evolving, with emerging platforms and trends. Regulations should be designed to keep pace with these changes and avoid becoming outdated or irrelevant,” Sharma added.

“Cross-border data transfers also merit attention. Privacy regulations frequently address the transfer of personal data across national borders, necessitating adequate safeguards to ensure that such data remains protected by applicable regulations,” says Vivek Kumar Anand, Chief Business Officer, DViO Digital.

“To effectively regulate AI, defining AI and comprehending its anticipated risks and benefits is imperative. However, given the continuous evolution of AI technologies, establishing a stable legal definition becomes challenging, making comprehensive regulation complex. Nevertheless, formulating guidelines for AI use cases is more feasible,” says Anand, adding that the societal impacts of AI systems primarily hinge on who utilises them, their intended purposes, and the involved parties, all of which can be subject to regulation.

Caveat Emptor

However, Anand Chakravarthy, Chief Growth Officer, Omnicom Media Group India, explains that with AI-specific regulations coupled with Data Privacy related regulations, there will be an impact on the ability of many AdTech tools or platforms to build more sophisticated AI models. “This would be attributed to the quality of data available to build these models that may diminish over time. And will potentially become one of the greatest obstacles there is for the proliferation of AI in the media space.”

“That being said, while the intent may be good with this regulation, the ability to enforce it will be a significant challenge. With advanced AI models now becoming even more accessible to people and organizations, I believe that regulatory enforcement will be an uphill task,” he adds.

Therefore, it is essential that any media platform or media tool using AI to claim a product benefit, should be required to be transparent about the data used to train their AI algorithms and the validity of that data.

Anand sums it up, saying, “While India takes a responsible AI-positive approach, striking the right balance between innovation and responsible AI use is crucial. Adhering to privacy and data protection principles, establishing accountability measures, and facilitating secure cross-border data transfers are essential for developing AI technologies in advertising and other industries. By embracing responsible practices and guidelines, we can navigate the complex landscape of AI regulation and foster the reliable and beneficial use of AI.”

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Meta Turbulence: How India went from key focus market to leadership layoffs

Experts speculate that though Meta India clocked good earnings in FY22, it is quite possible that its FY23 ad revenues won't be as good

By Kanchan Srivastava | Jun 1, 2023 8:38 AM   |   7 min read


Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is ''all in'' on India and the country is a “lighthouse” for Meta and at the “forefront” of innovation in areas such as Reels, business messaging and the WhatsApp JioMart partnership, said Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President, Global Business Group at Meta in an interview to a business publication in September 2022. 

Cut to 2023, the tech giant hands over pink slips to a bunch of India staff including top executives like India’s director of marketing Avinash Pant, director and head of media partnerships Saket Jha Sourabh and director of legal Amrita Mukherjee. This was reportedly the third round of layoffs at the company. Besides the latest round of layoffs, Meta India, over the past few months, has also witnessed some high-profile exits. Last year in November, Meta’s India head Ajit Mohan quit the company and joined rival Snap Inc as APAC President. Six months prior to that, Sandeep Bhushan, who was the Head of Global Marketing Solutions at Meta, called it quits. 

So, what is plaguing Meta India?

The latest layoffs are part of the company’s larger restructuring plan announced in March to eliminate 10,000 roles globally amid economic headwinds. While the number of total India staff and number of sacked employees in India is not immediately clear, it is believed that nearly three dozen people have lost their jobs suddenly. Some of them shared their layoff experience on LinkedIn as well which raises a serious question mark over the company’s Human Resource policy. 

The India development is part of Meta’s fresh round of layoffs that was set to impact about 6,000 employees globally. These job cuts were part of the company’s so-called “Year of Efficiency” in which Meta is being restructured to cut costs. 

The series of exits and layoffs at the tech giant’s India arm have shocked the entire media industry, especially since India is a very fast growing market and likely to be that for a few years. 

Meta India accumulated huge profits and ad revenues in FY22 in the country. Facebook India online services, the flagship registered entity for Meta in India, clocked gross ad revenues of Rs 16,189 crore in fiscal year 2021-22, a 74% year-on-year growth as per the latest regulatory filings by the company. The company's net profit grew by 132% year on year to Rs 297 crore during the same period. In contrast, Meta’s global revenue growth has almost stagnated over the past few quarters, ranging from 2-6 percent, necessitating the global layoffs. 

“Firing its senior-most staff from one of the most profitable markets raises a serious question over the long-term strategy of Meta which professes India to be a key market,” a senior industry analyst pointed out. 

India most important market: Meta officials said three weeks ago 

Interestingly, Arun Srinivas, Director & Head of the Ads Business of the US-based tech giant, told e4m on May 10 this year, “India is our largest user base across all three Meta plaftorms-Instagram, FaceBook and Whatsapp- and Reels feature has grown significantly since it was launched three years ago and now it is the fastest growing segment for Meta India.”

Facebook's user base in the country touched 440 million in FY22.

Meta Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had been calling India his “most important market” since his maiden town hall at IIT Delhi in 2015. Just a month before this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his trip to the United States in 2015, visited Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters in California.

Zuckerberg had set his sights firmly on India, a market that had illustrated a tremendous appetite for his offerings. Even in December 2020, during a fireside chat with Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Zuckerberg stated that India was a “very special and important country” with a remarkable entrepreneurship culture, as he sought to push deeper the just-launched payments services that allow users to make payments over WhatsApp.

“Facebook opened its first office in Hyderabad in 2010. From 2010 till Ajit Mohan’s departure in 2022, India used to be largely a sales office for Meta. With top level layoffs, it seems the company has gone back to being mere a sales office again,” analysts wonder. 

Impact on multiple ecosystems? 

Trimming of the workforce impacts innovation and growth. It also serves as a reminder of the human impact of layoffs and the long term strategy of the company for that particular region.

A tech expert said, “Such a crisis dashes the chances of Meta’s future investments in India, especially the content and curator ecosystems.”

Global phenomenon 

Dwindling ad dollars and declining growth in the post-pandemic world globally has forced many tech companies to trim their workforce. In 2023 alone, layoffs have cost tens of thousands of tech workers their jobs. The workforce reductions have been driven by the giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, Meta and Zoom. Startups, too, have announced cuts across all sectors, from crypto to enterprise SaaS. 

Most of these companies cite similar reasoning to justify the layoffs; such as “macroeconomic environment and a need to find discipline on a tumultuous path to profitability.”

Experts speculate that it is quite possible that despite earning huge profits and ad revenue in FY22, Meta India’s ad revenues are not as good in FY23 which turned out to be particularly bad for most platforms. The company has not filed its financial report for FY23 at the Registrar of Companies yet. 

Karan Taurani of analyst firm Elara Capital says, “The Meta financials seem to be strong for FY 22 because that time the market was not impacted by the macro uncertainty. The macro uncertainty started off in FY23, around the month of June-July, because of higher interest rates, and because of higher inflation in the US market. So, I think the impact will come in FY 23 India financials.”

“Going ahead in terms of FY24 also, there are concerns around innovation, there are concerns around the similar growth profile, and most of these companies have invested very aggressively in a market like India. So, maybe just some near term measure to just recheck the strategy”, Taurani explains. 

No comments, says Meta India

In response to e4m detailed questionnaire to understand the number of sacked employees and their roles and seeking reasons behind the layoff despite huge profits in India, Meta India official said, “We have no comments to offer.”

e4m was directed to check the Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s old blog dated March 24 which was addressed to Meta employees. Excerpts of the blog are: 

“Meta is building the future of human connection, and today I want to share some updates on our Year of Efficiency that will help us do that. The goals of this work are: (1) to make us a better technology company and (2) to improve our financial performance in a difficult environment so we can execute our long term vision.”

“Here’s the timeline you should expect: over the next couple of months, org leaders will announce restructuring plans focused on flattening our orgs, canceling lower priority projects, and reducing our hiring rates. With less hiring, I’ve made the difficult decision to further reduce the size of our recruiting team. We will let recruiting team members know tomorrow whether they’re impacted. We expect to announce restructurings and layoffs in our tech groups in late April, and then our business groups in late May. In a small number of cases, it may take through the end of the year to complete these changes. Our timelines for international teams will also look different, and local leaders will follow up with more details. Overall, we expect to reduce our team size by around 10,000 people and to close around 5,000 additional open roles that we haven’t yet hired.”

(With inputs from Nilanjana Basu)

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OTT programmes to carry anti-smoking ads like theatres do

The amended rules come under the Union Health Ministry Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act

By exchange4media Staff | May 31, 2023 4:15 PM   |   1 min read


On World No Tobacco Day, the Union Health Ministry notified that OTT platforms will carry anti-tobacco warnings as do theatres and TV shows. The amended rules come under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2004.

Online publishers will now have to show anti-tobacco ads that are at least 30 seconds long, according to the new diktat. The spot should also have a strong message about the health effects of tobacco consumption.

The audio-visual message should comprise a disclaimer lasting at least 20 seconds at the programme’s start and midpoint.

The message should be legible in black font against a white background. The spot should also carry warnings like “tobacco causes cancer” and “smoking kills” in the same language as the content.

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Govt to certify ‘permissible online games’: Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Nearly 70 apps have been taken down, the minster has said

By exchange4media Staff | May 31, 2023 10:50 AM   |   1 min read


The government will certify "permissible online games" till the gaming industry forms the self-regulatory organisation, media reports have quoted MeitY minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar as saying.

Tech giants Google and Apple will be sent a notification about the same, the report said.

The companies will be told to approach the ministry in case of any confusion.

Chandrasekhar has also said that nearly 70 apps have been taken down, mostly those that involve wagering.

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KC Global Media and Prime Video launch Japanese entertainment pack Animax + GEM

The new offering presents a selection of popular Japanese anime, drama, and a variety of programmes with English subtitles

By exchange4media Staff | May 30, 2023 3:12 PM   |   3 min read

prime video

KC Global Media and Prime Video today announced the launch of Japanese entertainment pack, Animax + GEM on Prime Video Channels in India. Animax + GEM offers customers a selection of popular Japanese anime, drama, and variety programmes with English subtitles from KC Global Media’s linear channels Animax and GEM. This ultimate 2-in-1 entertainment pack is now available to Prime members at an add-on subscription of ₹299 per year. With Prime Video Channels, Amazon’s video entertainment marketplace, Prime members get friction-free and convenient access to a wide range of premium content from multiple video streaming services all available with add-on subscriptions at a single destination—Prime Video website and app. 

George Chien, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of KC Global Media said, “Fueled by passionate fans and the strong following of Japanese pop culture in India, we are excited to bring the ultimate Japanese entertainment experience in collaboration with one of India’s leading streaming platforms. This partnership with Amazon Prime Video marks another significant milestone for us, as we continue our efforts to provide fans in India with greater accessibility across multiple genres of premium Japanese hit series and anime content, anytime, anywhere.” 

Home to some of the biggest anime titles, Animax offers popular genres for action, romance, horror, supernatural, sci-fi, comedy and slide of life. Anime fans in India can now tune in to enjoy award-winning anime action fiction series like the hit drama romance, Fruits Baskets (Seasons 1 to 3) – winner of the Anime of the Year, 8th Anime Trending Awards 2022; the complete box set of popular sports comedy series, Haikyu! (Season 1 to 4); as well as fantasy action, Yashahime: Half Demon Princess - Nominee for Best Character Design, Anime Awards 2021; and the highly acclaimed action-adventure anime, The Seven Deadly Sins – winner of Behind the Voice Actors Awards 2016, for Best Male Lead Vocal Performance in an Anime Television Series and adapted from one of the best-selling manga series of the same title; as well as the popular comedy action series, How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom and many more!  

Asia’s leading Japanese entertainment brand, GEM, makes its debut in India with an unparalleled line-up of hit Japanese dramas and variety shows featuring Japan’s leading celebrities and hosts. India fans can catch popular hit drama series, such as 10 count to the Future starring award-winning actor, Takuya Kimura, including other titles, such as AVALANCHE, Captured Hospital, Outsider Cops, and NICE FLIGHT!. Popular Japanese variety shows include VS ARASHI, featuring Japan’s hottest J-pop male idol group, ARASHI, going through a series of funny and entertaining challenges with other entertainers and celebrity guests. India fans can also explore the unique flavors of Japan as celebrity chef, Mocomichi Hayami takes audiences on a culinary adventure across Japan in Moco’s Travel Kitchen. Other fan-favorite titles include, The Quest, Who is the Real Celebrity, and more. 

All content from Animax and GEM will be streamed in their original Japanese audio and accompanied with English subtitles.


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In the digital era, consumer can be the brand and brand the consumer

Guest Column: Piali Dasgupta, Senior Vice President – Marketing at Columbia Pacific Communities, writes about the growing impact of digital marketing on consumer behaviour

By Piali Dasgupta | May 30, 2023 8:53 AM   |   5 min read

piali dasgupta

The other day, I went to a salon for a head massage and hated every bit of the experience. I left a one-star, negative review on their GMB (Google My Business) page, explaining in detail the terrible experience I had. The review was seen by many, and many found it helpful.

Ten or 15 years ago, this was not an option available to a paying customer. And this is precisely how digital marketing and the various digital platforms have changed consumer behaviour.

The customer has always been the king, but today’s consumer also has a voice. She is empowered and can use technology to make the right purchase decision.

Here are a few ways in which digital marketing is transforming consumer behaviour.

Influencing purchase decisions

The “zero moment of truth’, a term coined by Google’s Vice President of Sales back in 2011, became a part of every marketer’s lexicon thereafter. It is a phenomenon that is entirely internet fuelled. Before purchasing any product, a consumer has the option to educate herself on the product features, access reviews and see whether it’s worth the price. Whether it is a high-ticket price purchase such as a washing machine, laptop, phone or home theatre, or just something as simple as a new brand of shampoo – a large number of the over 700 million internet users in India use the internet to make a purchase decision.

Co-creating brands and their communities

It’s not just purchase decisions and customer feedback loop that digital marketing and the digital era has transformed. Today, consumers co-create brands and their communities, and become and active part of a company’s brand building effort. User Generated Content (UGC), is one of the biggest ways in which customers tell the brand story. The Apple #shotoniphone campaign, is one of the best examples of a really smartly done, successful and long-lasting UGC campaign.

Interchangeable paradigm

In the digital era, the consumer can be the brand, and the brand can often be the consumer. Let me explain. Any consumer with a sizeable number of followers, can become a micro or macro influencer.  Consumers today are investing time and energy in creating personal brands, growing their followers, building a compelling online presence. Personal branding is one of the biggest game-changing phenomena of the 21st century.

Brands, on the other hand, can often mirror their own consumers. Today, a consumer brand is expected to have a personality, tell a story, stand for certain social causes (sustainability, inclusivity, diversity etc) and have several values. In other words, we are seeing a humanising of brands. Brands are no longer corporations that sell commodities. They talk to their customers, listen to what their customers are saying, engage in a conversation, are often witty, funny, friendly, and basically mirror the personality of their ideal customer. Think of Zomato’s brand personality. It’s a bit like a cheeky, funny, 25-year-old, who loves a good burger as much as he loves a great meme. And social media has made this personality building possible.

Expecting personalisation and enhanced user experience

How is the consumer journey being impacted by digital marketing? Thanks to predictive AI, consumers today expect brands to know their choices and needs more than they know it themselves. If you are an Amazon shopper, you expect the marketplace to show you product recommendations and send you mailers with these recommendations based on your purchase history, so that you don’t have to look for similar products in a huge marketplace. It’s the same for Netflix. As a user, you expect the platform to use machine learning to share recommendations on what to watch next.

The consumer today is also expecting to see customised messaging, and ads that are relevant to his or her lifestyle. And AI and ML are making this possible at scale.

The ‘C’ factor

Convenience is the biggest gift technology has given us. Some may argue that it has made us lazier, less social and more isolated. But, today, it’s possible to bring home everything – right from a gym session that can take place through an app, to a haircut and of course, food, fashion and other commodities.  And that has helped us optimise our time better, enabling us to do more with less time, as we get technology to work harder for us. From the marketing context, technology (virtual reality in particular), has even enabled consumers sitting in faraway lands to make purchase decisions for ultra-high ticket price products such as real estate. We have seen many instances of real estate brands leveraging AR to help consumers get a virtual site visit done, and book an apartment, even without visiting a model apartment on site. This gained momentum particularly during the pandemic when many NRIs indulged in remote purchase of real estate. Several fine jewellery brands used VR as well to accelerate remote buying. So product categories in which customers would make a purchase decision only after a “touch and feel” experience, have also been disrupted through digital marketing.

In all, it has been a complete disruption of consumer patterns, behaviours and journey, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

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WPP and NVIDIA to develop AI-powered content engine

The engine will enable creative teams to produce high-quality commercial content faster, more efficiently and at scale while staying fully aligned with a client’s brand

By exchange4media Staff | May 29, 2023 12:14 PM   |   2 min read


NVIDIA and WPP today announced they are developing a content engine that harnesses NVIDIA Omniverse™ and AI to enable creative teams to produce high-quality commercial content faster, more efficiently and at scale while staying fully aligned with a client’s brand. 

The new engine connects an ecosystem of 3D design, manufacturing and creative supply chain tools, including those from Adobe and Getty Images, letting WPP’s artists and designers integrate 3D content creation with generative AI. This enables WPP’s clients to reach consumers in highly personalized and engaging ways, while preserving the quality, accuracy and fidelity of their company’s brand identity, products and logos. 

NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang unveiled the engine in a demo during his COMPUTEX keynote address, illustrating how clients can work with teams at WPP, the world’s largest marketing services organization, to make large volumes of brand advertising content such as images or videos and experiences like 3D product configurators more tailored and immersive. 

“The world’s industries, including the $700 billion digital advertising industry, are racing to realize the benefits of AI,” Huang said. “With Omniverse Cloud and generative AI tools, WPP is giving brands the ability to build and deploy product experiences and compelling content at a level of realism and scale never possible before.” 

“Generative AI is changing the world of marketing at incredible speed,” said Mark Read, CEO of WPP. “Our partnership with NVIDIA gives WPP a unique competitive advantage through an AI solution that is available to clients nowhere else in the market today. This new technology will transform the way that brands create content for commercial use, and cements WPP’s position as the industry leader in the creative application of AI for the world’s top brands.”

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