As value chains shift, advertising has lost the entitlement that it had

Today, the influencer is the agency, writer, producer, editor and publisher; all wrapped into one. We seek to learn from our traditional counterparts and are going to keep earning their relevance in the coming future. What does the future of the business really look like? Is the influencer a moot point of concern, or the disruption is real. Also, how are traditional players innovatively using influencers to add firepower to their campaigns.

The second day of FICCI Frames 2023 witnessed experts discuss ‘What is the future of advertising?’. The session was chaired by Vinit Karnik, Business Head - Entertainment, Group M. The panellists included:

Rana Barua, Group CEO, Havas Group India

Saurabh Saksena, CEO, VMLY&R India

Gangs T Gangadhar, Co-Founder & Group, CEO, Quotient Ventures

Rohit Gopakumar, COO, Optimal Media Solutions (Times Group)

Dheeraj Sinha, CEO, Leo Burnett, South Asia & Chairman BBH India

Abe Thomas, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network ( BIG FM)

Speaking about the changes in the industry in last couple of years, Rana Barua, Group CEO, Havas Group India, said, “If I was a soothsayer, I would say it’s getting up, but honestly, what I can tell you is that there are two ways of looking at it – first, you see it from an India perspective, and second, you see it from what’s happening outside India. Clearly from an India point of view, there are dramatic and cultural changes that are happening in all forms of mediums. One phenomenal change that is happening is that consumers are definitely becoming more powerful in terms of the kinds of entertainment or content they want to watch. You need to understand the consumer better.”

Continuing further, Barua shared, “Data analytics has now become more credible, that is a new trend which is coming up. We are talking about CX in a very big way, especially different experiential platforms. When I see the ecosystem that I’m working in, it is slowly merging into everything. So, it is not just advertising that I am talking about, but it also involves experiential marketing, gaming, cinema, outdoor, etc. There is a fundamental difference in how the consumption is happening, and we are gearing up to face that challenge, which is how are we going to take this consumer in the new era.”

Saurabh Saksena, CEO, VMLY&R India, noted, “The need to be creative is still universal. Consumers have a lot of power, there is a penalty if we don’t respect their time, they will penalize us by switching. I think COVID was the biggest accelerant of trends and adoption. A lot has changed, yet a lot has remained constant. There is more and more pressure on advertisers to be able to value consumers’ time. Whether it is CRM, or user first party data, or television advertising, or social media engagement or what influencers are really doing – it is important that we value their time, respect their ability to invest in us, and engage with them.”

Gangs T Gangadhar, Co-Founder & Group, CEO, Quotient Ventures, pointed out, “As long as there is a need for building brands and businesses, there will be a need for advertising. How it looks, the form and shape of it might look different from how it is now.”

At the same time, he also noted that the consumer attention is increasingly splintering and fragmenting and therefore, choosing the right medium for the right message is a challenge. For brands and agencies, the right to earn the consumers’ time and attention has become more challenging.

He recalled that “In earlier times, ‘entertain and inform’ were the two terms broadly used to describe advertising, but today, you need to ‘entertain and inspire’.”

Sharing some insights from a print perspective, Rohit Gopakumar, COO, Optimal Media Solutions (Times Group), said, “We have realised that print in smaller towns is actually growing. While people might be saying that print is dying and investment in print is drying up, we are actually launching new editions. The reality is that we are 40 years behind in terms of the education sites. If we look at small towns, the youngsters want to be better educated and they are seeking more information. They may be having smartphones, but they are still trying to pick up information from print and other mediums. So, we have the opportunity of trying to pick up global to local advertising, which is going to be huge.”

“I am an eternal optimist, it is the best time to be in the advertising and marketing business,” remarked Dheeraj Sinha, CEO, Leo Burnett, South Asia & Chairman BBH India. He noted, “Earlier, one could only play with fonts and images, but today, you can play with technology, you can play with data, you can play with influencer marketing, you could be devising a product, you could be deriving a solution. That’s what makes today’s world exciting. What has happened is that the whole value chain is now moving from just advertising and talking to people, to actually solving human problems and business problems. People are interacting with technology. What is lost is the entitlement that advertising had. Now people will choose to interact with the content only if it is interesting.”


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