Digital > Traditional media: Industry opines

Digital > Traditional media: Industry opines

The industry talks about how digital is ‘the’ medium to watch out for.


Mumbai: The digital space is an ever-evolving one and has caught everyone’s attention like no other medium ever has. This form has come far ahead of its simple banner ad days and has transformed advertising into an exciting and innovative sphere. spoke to industry mavens to see how the digital arena is taking shape, some of the memorable campaigns of the year that went by, what lies ahead for digital marketing in 2023 and more.

Taking a closer look, GroupM India’s This Year Next Year (TYNY) 2023 report highlights a 15.5 per cent increase in ad spend in India, reaching Rs 1,46,450 crore in 2023, with which India ranks 8th globally on ad spends and continues to be the fastest-growing market in 2023. The report predicts Rs 20,000 crores of incremental ad spend in 2023 compared to 2022. Most importantly, 56 per cent of the ad spends are estimated to be digital in 2023.

The domestic advertising industry is indicating an 18.1 per cent growth since 2021 with a market size of Rs 85,769 crore. The Dentsu India Digital Report 2023 reveals that the sector is expected to further grow at a compounded rate of 15.07 per cent to reach Rs 1.13 lakh crore by the end of 2024. It mentioned that a heavy skew was towards digital mediums with digital advertising having a market share of more than a third of the entire market size at Rs 29,784 crore, growing at a much faster rate at 39.5 per cent over 2021. It is anticipated to reach Rs 51,110 crore, with a compounded growth rate of 31 per cent, by 2024.

While the ad spends on digital media is expected to overtake the ad spends share of television in 2023, currently, television remains the largest advertising spend medium, with a share of 40 per cent of the entire pie. As of now, digital media and print media have a share of 35 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively.

Digital marketing devising a path for itself

Discussing the kind of niche that digital marketing has carved for itself as an advertising medium in 2022, as compared to other media such as television to make it what it is today at the onset of 2023, Mirum India joint CEO Hareesh Tibrewala elucidates, “I think the big opportunity that digital creates is personalised marketing. Understanding the consumer, and being able to craft personalised communication that can be shown on social or digital channels - that's the true power of digital. This ensures that the right consumer gets the right message on the right channel at the right time. This is something that TV or print cannot do. Also once the consumer has consumed a certain message, depending on the content that has been consumed, the rest of the communication journey can be planned.”

FoxyMoron (Zoo Media) business head North Alin Choubey states, “Digital marketing has not only become an extremely popular and fast adapting medium but also something which is constantly evolving to solve marketeers’ problems.

With its ability to target specific audiences smartly, and ability to track, analyse and optimise in real-time, businesses can reach their desired customers more effectively than through traditional methods such as television or print advertising. It allows businesses to make informed decisions about their marketing strategies and allocate their resources effectively.”

He further points out, “It is not restricted to a niche anymore but a preferred choice of a majority of brands. With products and services to cater to every budget and deliver results, the time is now for digital to take the lead on every front of marketing.”

SoCheers director - digital marketing Rajni Daswani understands that the increasing numbers of internet users and growing adoption of smart devices has further accelerated the growth of digital marketing. It has rightly established itself as a key medium for digital-first brands and consumer tech companies, among other market segments. However, television has maintained its appeal to advertisers who are promoting to a GenX or Boomer audience, while print gained back its momentum after the pandemic. But digitally, the growth has been the most prominent. Digital advertising, cumulatively, has been growing at a rate of 30% over the last five years and undoubtedly pandemic fuelled this further.”

In early 2022, Group M’s This Year Next Year (TYNY) report brought out that digital advertising will grow by 33 per cent in 2022 and emerge as the largest medium with an estimated share of 45 per cent as compared to TV which was expected to grow by 15 per cent with an estimated share of 39 per cent.

More specifically, during the first and second quarters of last year, digital ad insertions surged by 109 per cent as compared to the same period last year, according to a report by TAM Media Research. And, the festive season saw a renewed energy in both the advertisers and consumers, further accelerating the medium’s growth.

Digital vs traditional media

Grapes co-founder & CEO Shradha Agarwal says, “Looking at the ongoing trends digital advertising is only expected to grow in 2023. With the rate at which technology is shaping in the form of 5G, AI, ML etc. Digital advertising will continue to grow at a phenomenal rate and it is even estimated that it will take a major pie in the overall advertisement expenditure share. Considering that the advertising landscape is quite volatile, brands are on the lookout for cost-effective solutions. As digital advertisement comes with the advantage of economical execution, brands are very likely to increase their ad expenditure on the digital front.” 

Digital continues to grow by leaps and bounds. “It is no longer a question of if the brand needs digital. As a matter of fact, what we hear nowadays from clients is that they are questioning the mainline spends,” Tibrewala of Mirum underlines.

Daswani of SoCheers feels that we’re at an incredible stage, where every advertising medium is witnessing some kind of innovation and is evolving itself regularly. “This innovative growth, however, is the most rapid and most visible for the digital medium. Digital platforms are regularly introducing new and more technologically advanced features in their offerings like metaverse, integration of AI & AR, evolution of madtech, Meta’s step towards strengthening the creator economy on Facebook and more. This has allowed advertisers to reach their audiences in more effective ways. This value proposition is a ‘can’t miss opportunity’ for brands.”

“However, we cannot deny the fact that digital is constantly evolving and what’s trending one minute might be irrelevant the next. But some trends found their rhythm in 2022, gave us insights about the consumers and the marketing landscape, and can be expected to grow in 2023. And, technology will be a clear leader,” she continues.

“Constant and fast evolution will be a key factor in shaping the future of digital compared to traditional advertising mediums. While television and other advertising mediums are catching up and eventually digitising, digital marketing will lead the sphere. Real-time tracking, and analysing during a campaign is the single most important factor that most other mediums fail,” Choubey of FoxyMoron (Zoo Media) explains.

He continues, “As more and more people spend time online and engage with digital content, it is likely that businesses will continue to invest in digital marketing to reach and engage with their customers. Television, OOH, print, etc still remain comparatively more expensive as well.”

Blast from the past

Giving us a major throwback on some of the effective digital campaigns of 2022, most seemed to reminisce about Shah Rukh Khan’s Cadbury Celebrations campaign as one of the memorable pieces of communication.

“I think one of the most effective campaigns that I saw was the Shah Rukh Cadbury campaign earlier in the year. It leveraged technology to the hilt. Personalised videos of Shah Rukh, at scale, were created using AI. And thereafter leveraging data effectively, a relevant video was shown by geo-targeting the neighbourhood audience of the store that the ad was promoting,” Tibrewala says.

Daswani says, “Dove’s 'Reverse Selfie' campaign has been going strong since 2021. And every day it becomes all the more relevant and hard-hitting. The campaign hashtags of the #TheSelfieTalk and #NoDigitalDistortion have been establishing clear CTAs for all the digital audience, especially young girls and their parents. It is truly a raw and practical extension of the larger brand message. Mondelez India’s Diwali ‘Celebrations’ ad featuring Shah Rukh Khan created a huge buzz. Swiggy’s 'Why is this a Swiggy ad', Tanishq’s 'Marriage conversations 2.0', HUL’s 'Bin boy' and Cred’s ads revisiting the glory of the golden 90’s era tickled the right chords.”

Choubey absolutely loved FCB’s campaign for SOS Children’s Village with Chatpat. “The way it resulted in an increase in corporate donations, brand impressions, etc. was amazing. The biggest takeaway was the organic acceptance of the content and it was celebrated, shared and impacted people on social media.”

Of NFTs, web3, blockchain, metaverse et al

A lot has been spoken about NFTs, web3, blockchain, metaverse and one really wonders how would 2023 turn out to be a year of implementation of these digital marketing tools for brands in the best possible manner.

Tibrewala brings out, “While we are seeing a lot of hype around NFT, web3, blockchain, etc, I still think we are a few years away from really being able to use these technologies for digital marketing. The use cases that we see right now, most of them are early experimentation. Having said that, there is no doubt in my mind that some of these technologies will play a pivotal role in ensuring consumer data privacy, better delivery, and the measurability of digital ads. Both these factors will contribute to the growth of the digital marketing industry.”

Daswani quips, "We saw a glimpse of virtual or meta influencers in 2022, and what an intriguing glimpse that was! We even got India’s very first meta influencer in Kyra. 2023 is sure to further build on this fusion of technology into the realm of influencer marketing. Its effectiveness will however depend on the mass adoption of metaverse in general. There still are certain technological hindrances like the accessibility of the metaverse hardware, and they’ll in turn be crucial in deciphering the potential of meta influencers in 2023.”

“NFTs were the buzzword in 2022, and brands as well as advertisers were able to leverage it in some unique and memorable campaigns. For instance, MakeMyTrip launched NFTs based on India’s best travel destinations, and Mahindra & Mahindra auctioned Thar themed NFTs. It’ll be interesting to see if NFT marketing will make an even stronger comeback in the new year, and if so, what new experimentation opportunities it’ll bring,” she adds.

While 2022 might have ended with a lot of conversation and PR-related campaigns, Choubey is very optimistic about 2023. “Now this space will not be based on hype, and speculation but on merit and value. The current crypto winter might be more beneficial for Web3 than most people think. We'll see a healthier ecosystem with builders creating even better infrastructure for us digital marketers to use. We will also be expecting more govt. Regulations coming in, positioning themselves as web3 friendly.

The year 2023 will also mark the year where NFTs are less about digital art and collectibles and more about viable business use cases (or utility NFTs). For example, Starbucks’ rewards programme, Odyssey, is now backed by web3 tech and is such an NFT utility case. NFTs will also be changing Music and Concert experience. Creating communities backed by experience will make NFTs more viable than just being collectible.”

He goes on to say, “For metaverse, we will be seeing a lot of decentralisation. Right from social media to decentralised identities. Privacy will become a very important player in empowering users. All this will give marketeers another chance to look at these technologies from a different perspective. They will not just be a PR stunt or another gimmick but a useful feature in 2023.”

Agarwal observes that 2022 has seen a lot happening around NFTs and metaverse. “Brands have come up with some phenomenal work making use of the technologies. They have harnessed it substantially for exercising better engagement with the audience. Grapes has done some great work at the NFT front for DS Group and at the same time focuses on data-driven content to ensure media amplification. But the NFT and metaverse are still in their nascent stage and things will materialize eventually. Going ahead, a lot still remains to be explored in 2023. It is very likely that AI and ML will see a surge in demand with brands looking forward to automating their functioning.”

Trends and innovations disrupting the digital marketing scene

Shedding light on the trends that are making it big in digital marketing, Tibrewala says, “Influencer engagement seems like a big emerging trend. And when I say influencers, these are not celebrities but rather people who are category experts and have a large following. More and more brands are looking at influencer engagement programs and this trend will continue in 2023. Another trend that is emerging is using e-commerce marketplaces for bottom-of-the-funnel advertising.”

Daswani strongly thinks that 2023 is going to be a year of ‘integration’. “Be it the integration of advanced technology into standard marketing practices, or the integration of multiple mediums to deliver a cohesive communication. Several of these lines have already started blurring in 2022, which has paved the way for true integration in the near future.

For instance, we saw several unique executions of Digital Out-Of-Home (DOOH) campaigns in 2022, combining the flexibility and precision targeting of digital marketing with the traditional, ‘non-skippable’ reach of OOH marketing.”

Another much-talked-about subject is that of social commerce. According to Daswani, social commerce is another example of how integrating multiple digital aspects is turning into large growth industries. With the ever-growing numbers of online shoppers, spurred considerably by the pandemic, and the inherent engagement on social media platforms, social commerce sits at the intersection of these two very lucrative factors.

Social Media Trends 2023 Report by Talkwalker states that the social commerce industry is going to grow to become a $16-20 billion one by 2025, so this next year is going to be crucial in this growth journey.

Apart from this, Daswani elucidates that influencer marketing and short-form video marketing were also the talking points. And, the beautiful integration of the two furthered digital advertising’s ecosystem at large and for them individually. This can be considered the foundation for the advancement of the creator economy. And, it would be quite interesting to integrate AI in order to reach consumers with specifically targeted offerings.

Lastly, Daswani understands that the content was, is and will always be the king. Therefore, marketers and creators should not lose focus on effective and impactful storytelling while crafting their campaigns. Seamless integration of all of the above would play an important role in 2023.

Choubey, too, recognises that we saw the peak of influencer marketing and short video format leading in 2022. Moment marketing was another front where brands made a lot of noise. However, year after year, quality content consistently gave results no matter what platform or medium it was.

He continues, “In 2023, I see technology leading most of these trends. From AI to blockchain, we should be seeing a lot of integration of technology in our ways of running marketing campaigns. We are already seeing quite a few brands using AI and ML to fast track, run and fast track their existing campaigns right from creative adaptations to integration.”

Looking at the trends, Agarwal highlighted that Instagram reels ruled the digital advertising segment in 2022. It emerged to be an effective medium for forming a better connection with the target audience. “Likewise, even in 2023, short-form videos will continue to dominate the digital marketing landscape whereas YouTube shorts are expected to be a dominating trend in 2023. There is a lot of scope for the platform to monetize in the upcoming year and brands will be quite enthusiastic to explore new avenues by resorting to YouTube shorts. In addition to this, the upcoming year will also see some phenomenal work happening around the curation of data-enabled content,” she wraps up.