Video grew faster than any other format in the last one year: Anand Bhadkamkar

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.

Anand Bhadkamkar, CEO – India, dentsu, maps the growth of digital during the pandemic era, and adds that for other mediums to reach pre-pandemic levels, it will take 18-24 months.

Digital advertising spends in 2022 will be greater than TV spends in 2020. Digital outpacing TV growth – how do you see it panning out?

The pandemic has catapulted digital to the second position and led to degrowth in other mediums like TV, print and outdoor during 2020. Businesses expedited digital transformation during the pandemic period. It is a mixture of both these factors in 2020 which helped digital outpace print. Digital is reaching a scale where advertisers are reviewing their media mix in favour of digital as part of their ad spends. Digital grew 15 per cent over the last year and will grow by 20 per cent as we enter 2022. At the same time, other media are not growing as fast. So, what was expected to happen 2-3 years down the line has accelerated due to the pandemic.

Growth is coming back to traditional media and 2020 ought to be considered as an aberration.  For other mediums to reach pre-pandemic levels, it will take 18-24 months. While at the same time digital is still growing at double digits and should reach the earlier 30% growth down the line. Digital is the fastest-growing medium, but is the youngest as well and TV has a 40% market share. 2020 was an exceptional year that pushed digital growth much faster.

What are the business priorities for marketers this year?

The pandemic demonstrated that digital fits into all your plans as a business. Last mile delivery is always physical, but transactions have moved to cashless in a significant way even in Tier 2 and 3 markets. Digital brings efficiency, convenience and so people have embraced it in a huge way. For businesses, it was proof that they can work with digital at the core. Advertisers were trying smart and efficient ways to reach the customers using personalised messages. Digital is not just looked at for performance and last mile conversion, but also brand building.

Which digital channels are the growth leaders?

Social continues to be the largest growth driver. Video follows closely. In our earlier report, we had called out the 3 Vs – Voice, Video and Vernacular. Voice goes back to search, which remains a critical channel. Social, which was already large, has grown even more during the pandemic as people were staying in touch using social media. Video grew faster than any other format in the last one year. All content delivery moved to video. Vernacular is being driven by video and search. When we talk about personalised content, user-generated content is a huge trend that enabled regional delivery with platforms like Insta, Facebook, TikTok and aided by OTTs.

Last year, ad volumes have jumped for all digital formats, but values not so much. While digital spends have grown by 15 per cent based on the volumes, the values could have gone up much more. The economy has shrunk by 17 per cent and that reflects across businesses. People have reset their priorities and consumer behaviour has undergone a change even as a society. This also has opened up opportunities in digital payments and video conferencing, which have become a critical part of day-to-day life. That will ultimately lead to further value creation.

How can traditional media future proof their business?

Traditional media has adapted and print is a classic example of adaptation and eventual bounce back. It was really unfortunate in the case of print that during the lockdown physical delivery of newspapers completely stopped. Once it stopped, the habits changed and people veered towards online news. This has caused traditional media players to revisit the way they are operating and in some cases shutting down some editions, which in the pre-COVID-19 scenario would have seen a different outcome. Print players shut down editions or spun them off into purely digital offerings and in the case of broadcasters, some shut down niche channels while focusing on core channels. Going forward, TV channels would drive more synergies through merging data and content with their OTT platforms as well. Content became media agnostic. The consumer behaviour shift to online media is permanent in many ways. The charm of traditional media will also continue for years to come, especially for Indian viewers/ consumers.

At dentsu, four years back, we had predicted that eventually businesses would be 100 per cent digital, which meant that we expected digital to touch upon and be a part of one’s day-to-day life. That is definitely happening as we can see in the post-pandemic era. 


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