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Indian M&E sector needs to look beyond cricket and Bollywood: Dominic Proctor

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MUMBAI: GroupM Global president Dominic Proctor believes that the Indian media & entertainment industry should move away from the fragile ecosystem where Bollywood, cricket and a handful of national icons and stars are used for all messaging if it has to develop a globally recognised base.

“This must change if India is really serious about building a world class sports and entertainment industry,” Proctor said at Ficci Frames 2013.

In what would be a food for thought for media agencies and advertisers alike, Proctor said the country needs to look beyond cricket and start investing in non-cricketing sports and the signs for their success are very encouraging.

Recent initiatives in F1, Hockey, Combat sports and Badminton are encouraging but not enough, he added.

"In India the content is excessively and obsessively dependent on Bollywood, cricket and stars. This is a wake up call where in order to grow in the global space, the industry here needs to look beyond Bollywood and cricket," he noted.

He observed that the popularity of cricket in all its formats - Test, ODI and T-20 - is declining at a global stage. The dwindling performance of the biggest sport in the country is posing a threat to the business surrounding it, to the companies and brands which have invested on it.

Sports marketing in India will require to have much broader base than just cricket. People need to look at other sports too, like the other parts of the world. Sole focus on cricket as a means to advertise and reach the target audience gives it a monopolistic edge, which has lead to over crowding in the space and over pricing of the properties.

While Bollywood and the Indian film industry is an all pervading influence, brands in India do not leverage this platform optimally. Revenue streams exist in content advertising on multimedia screens & producers and studios should look beyond theatrical returns & innovate new platforms and formats.

Simultaneously, creators should extract total economic value for the content with consumer centric audience planning. With a nod to Web driven content, Proctor said that digital formats will drive advertising revenue growth in under branded India and also help the Indian media and entertainment industry reach out globally.

Talking about Bollywood, Proctor feels that brands need to find new ways to exploit movies for the benefit of the market. Web is a big opportunity too. Now the audience is exposed to the multiple media screens and one can target, monetise and measure the medium. In fact, this is a better medium of targeting consumers. "Advertising in print costs around six times more than that on web to reach out to the same consumer. And web is a better engaging medium."

The big shift, according to Proctor, is from distribution to content, from inventory planning to audience planning. "The need is to optimise inventory by serving different ads to different consumers. So, optimising spend and minimising wastages (is required)."

Proctor pointed out the key challenges that Indian M&E industry is facing today. They are optimising the potential of the Web which poses a huge opportunity for the industry; foundation of a world-class content industry; need to look beyond Bollywood and cricket and tap into the emerging platforms to help extract right advertising value. "As global economy slows, the opportunity is for India and Asia more broadly to lead, and then the others will follow. India can be a support to world‘s media ecosystem like the U.S was," he added.

The media agencies in India need to invest more in digital. "Digital business here is just 5 per cent of the total pie and as compared to the other markets where the spend on digital is around 30 per cent, it is relatively small. So, the agencies here need to invest in the medium, the people who know about the medium, and rope in that kind of talent. The medium will grow and the focus on these will drive digital medium‘s growth in India."

Also, the media agency business here needs to diversify. "Clients want much more advice on sports marketing, mobile marketing, return of investments (RoIs). The media agencies should diversify in order to cater to them effectively," Proctor concluded.

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