‘The big change post COVID has been fragmentation of consumer attention’

As part of the e4m Conclave webinar series, media leaders shared insights on shifts in media consumption during the pandemic, what it means for brands, the position of Print and much more

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 4, 2020 10:32 AM
CEO

The who’s who of the media industry came together for a special webinar series ‘The Leaders Roundtable’ hosted by exchange4media under its flagship property ‘e4m Conclave’ on Thursday. The media leaders deliberated on the topic of ‘Media Consumption in the New Normal’.

 They also shared insights on the shifts that have occurred in media consumption during the pandemic in India and globally, what these changed media consumption habits mean to brands, and how brands are now allocating their ad spends.

 On the panel were Abhinav Khare, CEO, Asianet News Network; MA Parthasarathy, CEO, Mindshare South Asia; Navaneeth LV, CEO, The Hindu; Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head - Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network, Viacom18; Rahul Sood, Managing Director, India, BBC Global News; Sudhanshu Nagpal, Associate Director – Marketing (Biscuits), Mondelez India Foods. The panel was moderated by Nawal Ahuja, Co-founder, exchange4media Group.

 Consumer trends that will carry on post-COVID

Fragmentation of consumer attention has been a big change, said Jaipuria. “While TV has continued to be the primary source of entertainment and information, the big change has been the fragmentation of consumer attention. This has been a major trend that has emerged in the last five months. This has led to fragmentation even from a perspective of how we are catering to that audience. Primarily from a Viacom18 perspective, we are storytellers and want to ensure that our stories reach out to our viewers. In the coming months, we are going to see this continuing trend where content, information, and entertainment will be consumed by various types of devices. Therefore this trend teaches us that if you want to entice your consumer to come to your stories or content then the potency of content should be much higher. It also means that one size doesn't fit all. We will have to spend more and custom make content for bucket size viewers.”

While TV is going to be the primary source of entertainment and information in India, the shift towards Digital and OTT will be a key change, Jaipuria opined.

 Speaking about the trends shaping up in the news domain post COVID, Khare said, “I don’t believe TV is going to last forever. We are a content producing company and we are preparing for a future where TV as we know it will change. TV will remain the cash cow and it is the preferred choice for advertisers right now but we aren’t sure about that five years down the line. In two years, I would expect the customers to get more mature, so on the content side people like us will have to pull up our socks and try to produce more intelligent content.”

 Credibility of news in a fragmented market

Talking about brand credibility Sood said, “For BBC the month of March-April was record viewership across the world including India, both on TV and Digital. There was so much misinformation about COVID being circulated. That is when more people started gravitating towards trusted news brands. Most people will automatically rely on the most credible news platform and this trend has worked in our favour.”

 Advertising in the new normal

From an advertising standpoint, Jaipuria commented that a lot of us have to pivot our plans to adapt to this new normal. “While TV will be invested in due to its measurability factor, Digital Media is here to stay too as an engagement platform and as one that will create awareness for your brand.”

 On how a brand chooses the primary media platforms in this fragmented market scenario, Nagpal said, “We choose our advertising mediums by studying the trends of how to best engage consumers across the board. TV has been the main medium to drive reach. But what has shifted is the digital evolution. For instance, Oreo’s spends that used to go into digital have moved from 6% three years ago to 40% now. Television and Digital Advertising works best for our brand. OTT is emerging as another big channel and that is something we have not tapped into yet.”

 Taking the discussion ahead, Parthasarathy remarked, “Marketers are looking for more accountability. In India, digital is continuing to hold its ground. Increasingly, marketers will want to hyper-target consumers. Hyper-localisation has jump-started due to COVID. All media that moves in this direction will benefit from this trend. The need for 'Through the funnel thinking' is very important. A consumer may have made a purchase digitally but he may have seen your brand's ad on TV, Print, etc.”

 Rise in news subscription models

Sharing his perspective on subscription models and how new brands can earn more from a consumer, Navaneeth stated, “The future of our industry is gravitating towards a reader revenue business and not necessarily an advertiser revenue business. Publishers should respect their prices and price it high so that people see value in it and pay for it. In the digital business, it is the same thing. You need to ride on values like trust and credibility. These 6 months have taught us to double down on our business, to stay true to our vision, and realise the importance of what we represent. What we bring to the table is of great importance. Thus pivoting to a subscription model is the way ahead. At the end of the day, people will be willing to pay for good and credible content.”

 Relevance of a news brand in a digital-first world

According to Sood, Sports and News genres will keep the TV Cable business running for a couple of years. “BBC Hindi is the most consumed content on mobile according to BARC Nielsen’s data. BBC has 42 language platforms across the world and most of these are run on digital platforms which can be consumed on demand by the end consumer. Sports and News will keep TV Cable going for a couple of years. The rest genres can be watched at your convenience on your mobile phone or tablet. The day we get more wired broadband connectivity and more OTT content starts getting consumed on TV this shift in terms of consumption of news brands digitally in India will take place.”

 Economic revival in media ecosystem

For Khare, the economy will start to get better from October. “We plan for every market scenario but at the end of the day it's a wait and watch game. We don't know when the economy will recover but we are hoping things will pick up from October. The second half of the year has always been better than the first, traditionally in India. Fortunately, August has been a better month for us compared to the previous months. The months of September and October will start to show the trends. But again we don’t know what the future holds for us.”

 Sharing his views on ad spends getting back on track by next year, Parthasarathy said: “January-December 2021 may not reach 2019 levels. But it will definitely be a strong positive trend from where we are today. I think it will take a little longer than 2021 to get back to pre-COVID levels.”

 The shift from TV to Digital Media

The transition from TV to Digital should not hamper the traditional business models. Sharing more context on this, Jaipuria said: “How we create content and IPs beyond one platform is something that we are looking at. As an example, Bigg Boss 13 was provided not only on Colors but on Voot too. Our most-watched television content is now being made available on Voot as well. This helps to drive the subscription model among our consumers.”

 Sharing more on the shift to Digital, Nagpal said, “We are looking at digital from a performance marketing lens. The consumption medium has become very important. The behaviour of consumers changes depending on the medium they are using. We know that consumers are spending more time on digital. Brand safety is something that we take very seriously and this helps to select the best medium of advertising and promotions.”

 Concluding the discussion, Navaneeth said, “Print will continue to be important. There hasn’t been a demand drop off. We are still seeing a demand for Print. The future will be hybrid. How we transition and adapt to digital will be equally important. Now it is about transitioning from a publisher's mindsight to a content mindsight. Our content engine is the print business and that will be repurposed across all other mediums.” 

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