Trend spotting 2019: Convergence & collaborations in a digital age

Ashish Bhasin, Vivek Bhargava, Babita Baruah, Rahul Pansare and Uday Sodhi crystal-gaze into the New Year and highlight the trends that they see emerging in advertising, marketing, automobile and OTT sectors in the year ahead. 

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO - South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network:
For me, the key learning from 2018 was that no matter how fast you think you are running, the consumer is out to pay both to marketing and agencies and therefore, the onus is on us to make sure that we stay ahead in this game. There is not a minute that you can take things easy, given the way the pace of change is increasing. It is both a challenge and equally a huge opportunity, particularly for the new age agencies. But I think some of the ‘dinosaurish’ old world organisations are really going to struggle going forward and that came through very clearly in 2018. 

I think one big development in 2019 will be the convergence of mar-tech and ad-tech. For a long time these two worlds have existed in silos. It’s time we started to look at them as one entity, because what really underpins each of these two very robust and interesting streams is actually technology. And hence, there’s no point for us to see them as two different worlds. 

The other big developmental change that I would love to see is increased focus on TV apps. More and more consumers are also looking forward to watch their content, not necessarily limited to mobile alone, but also to watch on large screens. And I think this entire coming together of two different worlds – linear and OTT – and how that’s going to happen on the back of really great compelling technology is something which is very interesting and we look forward to it, because I think that can subtly add value to the platforms and to the consumers. With JioGigaFibre coming in, I think this is again going to pretty much unravel a completely new world. 

Vivek Bhargava, Chief Executive Officer, DAN Performance Group:
I think the key learning for me in 2018 has been that it’s no longer about digital marketing. Digital has become the age that we are living in. So, what has happened is that today digital plays the role of a catalyst or a multiplier across every single facet of enterprise, whether it is customer acquisition, brand building, information assimilation, understanding what products to build, crossing and ascending to consumers. I think every single aspect of a business outcome that an organisation is looking for, digital has now started playing a role in it and it has transformed from digital marketing to, as I would say, digital age. 

Babita Baruah, Managing Partner, GTB India:
The year 2018 revealed a lot of things for us as part of the communication world. But one of the things that have been a key learning for me is the importance of the various partners in the communications ecosystem to collaborate and work together, because each one brings in a domain speciality and without collaboration, we will not be able to come up with solutions for the brand. 

Rahul Pansare, Head - Marketing Communications & PR, FCA India Automobiles:
2018 was a great year for Jeep. From a campaign point of view, we did some great work during the year. Our 4x4 month campaign in April did very well; innovative and disruptive communication methods gave us the required awareness and attention. The campaign was supported by Print, TV and on-ground activations. Our efforts to engage with existing Jeep owners and offering them an experience of the Jeep life has paid off. Jeep Trails as a brand IP is now well established and is gaining popularity. Jeep customers participated in these drive events and shared their experiences on social media. Additionally, our content strategy has worked very well, our video format content have crossed 14 million views collectively in under 6 months. My Jeep Story is another classic example of using a global format with an Indian touch. 

I think not only the automobile sector, but the overall consumer sentiments were low across industries in 2018. New policies and fuel prices have affected automobile buying decisions, there was demand but conversions were not as buoyant as we expected. We look at 2019 with a lot of optimism and hope. Jeep brand has gained great awareness and popularity amongst SUV buyers. Compass is one of our top sellers. As of today, we have more than 30,000 Jeep SUVs sales. That’s a great customer base to have. In the past few months, we have seen the Jeep community growing. Jeepers are coming together and doing small trails, living the Jeep life. In 2019, our focus will be to improve our network, strengthen Mopar, which is our aftersales service and customer care brand. There is huge focus on the ownership experience and peace of mind for our customers. We will also introduce the highly capable Trailhawk next year. I would say, 2019 is looking very exciting for the Jeep brand. 

SUVs are gaining popularity. With improving roads and infrastructure, more and more people are doing road trips and exploring new places around their cities. Owning an SUV now has become a practical choice. SUVs offer more space, a tall ride with added capability as compared to other segment cars. Owning an SUV is also a bold statement, symbolising power and attitude. What is becoming more significant is the growing awareness about authentic SUVs and what a SUV must offer. Today, customers are well-read and well-informed. If someone is considering buying an SUV, he will buy a real SUV and not a car which looks like an SUV. An SUV must give you a feeling of “Go anywhere, Do anything”. What’s the point in buying an SUV and feel scared to drive it off-road? Buyers must not compromise and must buy an authentic SUV, which offers great power, 4x4 capability and a premium comfortable cabin. 

Uday Sodhi, Head – Digital, Sony Pictures Networks India:
SonyLIV will kickstart 2019 with a host of award winning English shows for its viewers. Building the momentum, we wish to up the game in content curation and consumer engagement initiatives over the next year. We will continue to invest in product, technology, and marketing. We will also continue to have an increasing thrust on original content across languages to tap into an expansive consumer base. Along with our premium English content offering and sports content, we have plans to develop host of regional content across regional languages, including south Indian languages. There is going to be an upsurge in OTT content consumption that will reflect a raise in terms of viewership and growth and SonyLIV will be at the forefront of this development.


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