Personalised experience is the moat to retain consumers: Mandeep Kohli, BCG

Shrugging off the disruptions of the year gone by, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Over the next few weeks, Adgully – as part of our annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – will be presenting the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of 2020.

Mandeep Kohli, Partner, BCG, sees linear TV continue to be a force to reckon with even as digital is expected to grow faster and increase its relative share in the overall pie in 2021. He also talks about the deliverables that businesses will expect from their advertising partners in the new normal.

Do you estimate digital advertising spends to outpace TV ad spend by next year?

Digital (video) is the fastest growing segment in the advertisement pool (2-3x of linear TV growth) and has been constantly increasing its relative share over the last couple of years. It was the only segment which registered a growth even in the COVID-19-impacted 2020, which saw all other mediums decline predominantly due to the initial months post the outbreak and lockdown. Having said that, linear TV does remain a force to reckon with, given the reach and the Indian context (90%+ single TV households, etc.) and we expect that 2021 will still see advertising spend on TV still being higher than digital, though digital is expected to grow faster and increase its relative share in the overall pie. The inflection point is expected in the short-medium term, but may not be immediate in 2021.

What are the business priorities in 2021 leading to adoption of digital media?

Ad spend by nature is highly correlated to GDP growth. As businesses seek to settle into the “new normal”, they would look at their advertising partners to deliver on three key things:

  1. Ability to deliver a high AND measurable ROI (for example, provide psychometric information to drive brand building through interactive experiences, sharper targeting, lesser wastage)
  2. Ability to ensure real time tweaking to drive greater control (for example, programmatic buying)
  3. Ability to have byte-sized outlays

Digital media provides the above to businesses and hence, is a good fit. However, concerns like brand safety, data privacy, etc., need to be proactively addressed to help unleash the full potential of the medium and provide a win-win for all the stakeholders.

The year 2020 led to a momentous shift in the way we function as a society. What is the learning for traditional media business to adapt for future uncertainties?

The year 2020 has demonstrated the resilience of the human spirit. The year reinforced the important role that media plays in consumers’ lives, but has also demonstrated that media businesses will need to transform to not only succeed, but even survive. For us, there are three key imperatives that stand-out: 

  1. Personalised experience is the moat to retain consumers – Media businesses need to create more differentiated, diverse content and provide a more personalised viewing experience. Consumers today face a clutter of content, and expensive content is not correlated to relevant content. This has been reinforced by their viewing patterns, propensity to pay, etc. Companies which did this well used the year to extend their competitive advantage over others by becoming entrenched in consumers lives.

  1. Need to continuously evolve propositions – to keep pace with the changing needs. For example, proactively creating new, strategic selling models that enhance the value proposition for advertisers versus selling inventory.
  2. Need to invest and leverage technology, advanced analytics extensively – while storytelling remains key to media industry, today’s technology can help drive better outcomes for companies which leverage them. Companies which have leveraged technology across the value chain and not kept confined to few traditional use cases have really benefited from being able to drive nimble cost structures.


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