2019 through the eyes of Media Agency Leaders

Sam Singh, Shashi Sinha, Ashish Bhasin and Anita Nayyar share insights on what 2019 will look like

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jan 15, 2019 8:23 AM  | 6 min read

India’s digital growth spurred by affordable data costs and cheap mobile handsets will present media publishers and marketers with unique opportunities in 2019. The digital growth will push the digital medium forward, while forcing the media ecosystem to re-evaluate and realign itself to the new trends as they emerge. Media agency leaders feel that 2019 holds promise. India will be among the top markets for advertising and witness the highest growth in the digital medium with digital commanding as much as 20 per cent of the ad pie. 

A variety of factors will drive this growth of the industry with leaders betting on heavy content consumption on OTT platforms in local languages. The year will be about mobile-first, video-first approaches. And the ultimate metric for measurement will be engagement over likes and shares. Marketers will mature as will audiences who will choose S-VOD for high quality content. 

Here’s what the who’s who of the industry have to say about the year ahead:    

Sam Singh, CEO, GroupM India
With over half a billion internet users, and over 300 million users of messenger and OTT apps, 2019 is promising to be a landmark year. My predictions for 2019 are: 

  • Marketers and agencies will be constantly challenged with fluidity in measurement and distribution. Managing unpredictability and change will be key to surviving 2019.
  • S-VOD could well be the sleeper with edgy content, high-quality bandwidth and reduction in subscription cost. 
  • Companies with a strong focus on regional language businesses will find it easier to grow as consumers in small towns and migrants in large cities will drive media consumption.

Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India
2019 will see the rise of personalised advertising as consumers expect content which is relevant, accessible on demand and most importantly personalised. Brands on the other hand will push to understand the kind of content their consumers are engaging with and the content their brands should stay away from. The conversations in 2019 will be about Mobile & Video, Content and Measurement. 

Mobile adoption is increasing with smartphone subscriptions estimated to touch 1 billion in the next 5 years, according to industry estimates. This year, Mobile Ad spends will surpass Desktop with a 53% share within digital. Video represents a significant proportion and will be the fastest growing format in the next 5 years. 

The popularity of Video is spurred by mobile and affordable data tariffs. This drives innovation in cross screen usage and advanced currency metrics where no single video channel is an end in itself.  The goal is to get the right video in front of the right consumer at the right time. According to an IPG Media Lab partnered research, an ad viewed on both the platforms (Linear and OTT) leads to two-fold increase in brand favourability lift. 

An array of content is now available for consumers to choose from. Growth in language users has opened up opportunities for innovation in content catering to varied taste. This is true for all platforms, including traditional ones like TV and Print. The battle ground from acquisition and distribution will very soon move to differentiators in content offering. Advertisers targeting content through the eyes of the consumers will boost ad relevance and better brand metrics. However, brands will be vary of unsafe content and will not hesitate to move budgets as this results in demonstrable decline in brand perception. 

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO - South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network
I think that digital will continue its rapid growth and probably cross 20 per cent of the entire advertising market in 2019. 
Overall advertising will see a double digit growth. And for the first time, India will cross $10 billion in market size, which will make us amongst the major advertising markets. 

All media will grow, though at very different rates. English print and magazine will grow the slowest, TV and outdoor will be somewhere in the middle, and digital will grow the fastest.  

And the third trend I think you will see is the consolidation that will happen, both at the media owners’ end, whether it is TV channels or print or outdoor, as well as at the agency end. The legacy, old world agencies will struggle. The nimbler, more agile, new age agencies, will thrive. 

Anita Nayyar, CEO India & South East Asia at Havas Media Group

Investment in data, the era of personalization at scale: 

In 2018, data was at crosshairs, whether belonging to European regulators armed with the newly implemented GDPR to marketers concerned about the quality of commercial data or to consumers wary amid various privacy controversies.
2019 will see a wave of investment in technology for data security and transparency. Digital advertisers will continue to improve their mouse traps to better personalize and target advertisements by harnessing the power of algorithms and data as consumers continue to increase time spent on mobile and video viewership.

It is the era of personalization at scale, the competitive advantage of ad agencies now resides in their capacity to leverage their data, technology and creative talents. We will find agencies continuing to simplify their operating structures and pursuing greater integration between their businesses as they focus on the growth areas of data, technology and creative. 

Investment in meaningful content: 

Content was and continues to be the hero of ad land. According to a research conducted by Havas Group, there is a 71 per cent correlation between how a brand performs on improving personal wellbeing and the strength of its content, of which 54 per cent of the content provided by brands in India is poor, irrelevant or not meaningful to consumers.
Content-driven engagement will go beyond just ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. It is about engagement and that continued conversation around whatever the topic is. 

Good or meaningful content will effectively engage its audiences so that they will propel your brand’s values, messages and drive loyalty, recommendation and ultimately, sales. With the increase in the number of content forms – long form content, webinars, podcasts, live video, music videos, choosing the right medium will be key for marketers. Most media companies will continue to invest in their own content production, co-production partnerships and joint ventures to gain access to original content. 

Rising Influence of OTT: 

Over-the-top (OTT) options will continue to proliferate as consumers continue to look for more flexibility and OTT providers continue to experiment with offerings of various sizes and prices. In the past two years we have seen several live streaming virtual multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) launch offerings, which were various combinations of live networks and on-demand content. 

With increasing smartphone penetration and inexpensive data plans, there is a rising influence of OTT as a medium. There are currently more than 30 OTT platforms and this is only the beginning. With India slated to be among the Top 10 OTT markets within the next 4 years and with estimations of over 75 per cent content consumption through OTT by 2021 it will be worth observing to see how brands leverage this medium.  What’s interesting is how the OTT experience is currently being leveraged by brands through brand associations within content and how the experience is being made more interactive through augmented reality and gamification. 

With inputs from Christina Moniz, Naziya Alvi Rahman and Venkata Susmita Biswas

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