Digital trendspotting for 2018

Digital advertising currently contributes around 15 per cent to the total advertising Industry in India and this is expected to reach 24 per cent of the entire market by 2020

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Published: Jan 15, 2018 9:00 AM  | 6 min read

Digital advertising is changing as rapidly as it is growing. The industry currently contributes only around 15 per cent to the total Advertising Industry in India and this is expected to reach 24 per cent of the entire market by 2020, according to the Dentsu Aegis Network-exchange4media Digital Report 2018. 
It is also estimated to grow with a CAGR of 32 per cent by 2020. Keeping up with this fast-paced industry means taking risks and crystal-gazing to finally hit the proverbial bull’s eye. As the industry hurtles towards the digital marketplace, new trends replace old ones and brands need to swiftly change gears to keep up with the emerging innovations and technologies. Here is a look at some of the trends brands need to adapt to in 2018: 
Business Transformation
Digital is a way of life, not a medium of communication or piece of technology. Digital marketers are increasing recommending brands to transform their entire value chains using digital. To this end, agencies are developing competencies to deliver what the new digital age demands. 
Anil K Nair, CEO & Managing Partner, Digital Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi said that clients are going to be talking more about digital transformation than just digital communication. “Rather than doing superficial digital, more and more clients are beginning to realise that they may want to change their core to have a lasting impact,” he noted. Given that Indian businesses are still stuck with archaic systems and processes, “now is the right pivot point for these businesses to invest in new technology and processes,” he added. 
As one digital marketer rightly said to this reporter: Privacy is dead. For brands, there is an upside to this: hyper-personalised marketing. When you have the kind of granular data on consumers it would a waste to spend money on anything but pinpointed marketing. “Any non-personalised marketing techniques will become obsolete,” said Sudhir Nair, managing director, digital, Omnicom India. He added that non-personalised methods for even simple things like emailers, direct response campaigns will perish in 2018. He was confident that hyper-personalisation is the way forward in the digitised world. 
Although content marketing makes for a small chunk of digital advertising, It is an entity that deserves its space in the world of advertising. “Content marketing is definitely taking money away from the television commercial,” said Arnab Mitra, founder and MD Liqvd Asia. Mitra said that 2018 will see a boom in the content marketing space, thus redefining the media landscape. 
The thumb rule that marketers can spend up to 10X of what they spend on content on media is now obsolete in the digital ecosystem. Marketers are willing to put in disproportionate amount of money in content marketing because they have the chance to go viral on digital media which would mean that media cost is negligible and people are distributing the content themselves. “Therefore, brands are focussed on creating good quality content which will get propagated on digital platforms by their own steam,” said Mitra. 
Deshpande concurred with Mitra, and said that the appetite for content is definitely growing among brands. Anil Nair cautioned that content is like ‘Emperor’s New Clothes.’ “Too many people are trying too many new things, which is what any kind of evolutionary market will see,” he said. He advised that brands must look to create short-format snackable content and keep the brand’s involvement as subtle as possible, “because overt brand involvement will be rejected,” he added.
Regional Content
Content on digital platforms is currently skewed towards the metro audience, this will see a dramatic shift in 2018. “There will be an exponential growth of vernacular content in 2018 coming from languages like Telugu, Tamil and Kannada. New markets untapped markets like Gujrati, Orissa, and Punjab will also emerge,” said Devendra Deshpande, Head, Content+ at Mindshare.

Sudir noted that more regional content will lead to the emergence of content studios at the regional level. “Local content has not kept pace with the growing internet penetration. Indic content is becoming popular but the content is not being created from an Indic perspective,” he added. Sudir further said that this growth of regional Indic content may be bad news for the Indian print fraternity which has so far been cushioned from the digital explosion in India. “Unlike other countries, Indian print industry has been able to hold fort so, but that may not be the case going forward when we see more hard-core local micro-geo level content,” he said.

Experts bet that voice will be the future of digital and not just advertising alone. “Voice will take over all digital formats, for example, voice search: people will search lesser and lesser by typing and more by speaking into devices. According to the latest statistics, 30 per cent of users in the US use voice search and 45 per cent of millennials use search,” said Shamsuddin Jasani, Managing Director, Isobar India. 
As per data from Google, 28 percent of search queries in India are done by voice and Hindi voice search queries are growing at over 400 percent year on year. “This 28% are urban internet savvy users who are comfortable using voice assistants like Siri,” said Jasani. He added, “It is not just Siri and Google Assistant, the beginning for voice has happened in 2017 with Alexa, Cortana, etc. And this movement towards voice will take off in 2018.” 
Sudhir Nair called voice an inclusive medium that should be given its due and not slighted because of the proliferation of video. Voice is an intuitive interface that can interact with consumers and sense consumer sentiment. “Mobile is still an external element unlike wearable devices that can read a consumer unobtrusively. While wearables and implantable devices may be a little farther away in the future, the interim medium will be voice,” felt Anil Nair. 
Some of the other emerging trends are:
Augmented Reality: VR costs are still prohibitive. Many smartphones are already AR enabled, because of the cost barrier, AR might overtake VR in the immediate future. 
Photos: Platforms like Snapchat and Instagram have brought back photographs. Photo stories are an interesting new medium that brands can utilise. 
Micro-influencers: Following some gaffes with celebrity influencers, brands began leveraging micro-influencers in 2017. These domain experts and have a meaningful reach and will see greater play in 2018 as compared to celebrity influencers. 
Movie Launches on OTT: Movies that do not have the budgets for huge marketing campaigns but have a niche audience could launch primarily on OTT platforms.

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