2014 was the year of innovations in digital advertising: CVL Srinivas


From a media perspective 2013 was the year of the perfect storm and something tells me that there is lots waiting to unfold in 2015.  Was 2014 the lull before another storm? The major event that dominated 2014 was of course the general election and the wave of optimism and hope that has been spreading ever since the new government came to power. Not only was this the most bitterly fought election from a media standpoint; it was the most well orchestrated win combining strategy with clever tactics.  Advertising was only one part of the strategy. 2014 will go down in history as the year that gave a new meaning to marketing of political parties. We now realise that the general election was only the beginning. With a slew of schemes, clever branding and initiatives that touch the common man, the government is turning out to be a very savvy marketer. One hopes the product lives up to its promise.

The extension granted to TV digitisation was a bit of a dampener for the broadcast sector. There has been some indication that the phase III licensing for radio will soon go through. Meanwhile, India became the second biggest market for Facebook, the overall Internet penetration crossed 200 million and mobile Internet became the most dominant force of change. And yet we have bandwidth issues, call drops and sometimes feel like going back to the old faithful ‘landline’.  As a nation we need to play catch up in digital infrastructure and going forward I hope this is given the highest priority.

As for the advertising industry, 2014 saw a 12.5 per cent growth (as per GroupM TYNY estimates) as against a global ad spend growth of 4.5 per cent. Apart from political advertising, if there was one sector that stood out was ecommerce. This sector will end up with more than 50 per cent growth over last year closing the year at Rs 2500 crore of ad spend. The upsurge in this sector is expected to continue. FMCG (which remains by far the biggest sector in terms of ad-spend contributing about a third of total advertising) continued to invest in advertising despite supply side pressures, poor volume growth and an uncertain monsoon season. We expect FMCG to end the year with 12-14 per cent growth. Auto has seen a revival both in terms of sales and ad spends. The sector is expected to see a 15-17 per cent ad spend growth in 2014. With petrol/diesel prices coming down, we expect more action in the months to come. Telecom brands are back after a lull, adding to the overall positive trend. All in all it was a good year, although anything less than 15 per cent ad spend growth still seems low for our market. As expected digital advertising grew at 35 per cent, while TV continued to do well with approximately 15 per cent growth. Regional language dailies helped grow the print sector. Cinema turned out to be the dark horse, with 25 per cent growth though on a relatively small base. Unlike the past few years, we had a clear blip during the festive season this year across all media.

2014 saw a great deal of innovation in digital media advertising. GroupM and our agencies have been at the forefront of many exciting developments. Digital video has emerged as one of the biggest growth drivers of digital ad spend. Mashup, our digital video content unit has seen a lot of traction, we have made over 1500 pieces of digital video content in the past year. Across the industry, we saw many memorable campaigns launched first on digital media. More brands have taken to social media platforms to keep the conversation going, social listening is emerging as a key input for advertising and media planning.  We have worked with clients (like Nestle) to establish social command centers that have given our media and content planners real time insights. Mobile as a medium continues to grow and will soon account for nearly 20 per cent of the digital ad spend. Madhouse is our mobile center of excellence that is now in its third year of operation. Another emerging trend is audience planning, where digital inventory is combined with data to ensure better ROI for brands. GroupM’s Xaxis is a platform that is at the forefront of innovation in this space.

We have lots to look forward to in 2015 including the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Here’s wishing you all a Very Happy New Year.

(These are purely personal views of GroupM south Asia CEO CVL Srinivas and indiantelevision.com does not necessarily subscribe to these views.)

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