What lies ahead in 2020: Sanchayeeta Verma, Wavemaker

Another year came to an end and a new year rises. There were many developments in 2019 that will influence how 2020 shapes up, writes Sanchayeeta Verma, Senior Vice President, Wavemaker, as she analyses their implications. 

The first is that in 2019 India moved into a growth recession. Midway through the year growth halted across many sectors, including the otherwise resilient FMCG. Sectors like Auto were hit by multiple adverse forces, changing millennial preferences for sharing rather than owning being one of them. Small towns and rural – the driving force of the Indian economy – are under serious stress. 

Globally, the climate crisis is showing signs of rapid acceleration. This is equally reflected in India with unprecedented floods, droughts and pollution affecting various parts of the country. India’s socio-cultural fabric is also threatened with divisive forces, unrest and uncertainty, which if not rectified will impact its economic performance without fail. 

In the midst of all of this, rapid data-tech developments are changing the dynamics of businesses. AI, at serious play for many years, is powering almost all media, entertainment and consumer facing tech platforms. There is an unprecedented explosion of content. Early adopters intelligently harnessing big data through data-driven tech are gaining significant top-line and bottom-line lifts and stronger bonds with consumers. 

Closer home, with media investments getting distributed across digital and offline, lack of integrated multi-media measurement is beginning to hurt as the digital pie gets larger. Lack of unified measurement for all online channels itself is a cause for great worry. This is prompting leading advertisers and agencies to both look for solutions to this challenge, as well as upping the ante on opening up of walled gardens. 

Keeping all these in mind, here are some of the trends that will play out for brands in 2020: 

Data & Tech for Good: Good has been the new Black for long. What is changing is the use of data and technology for creating powerful and meaningful engagement with consumers – Infection Alert systems with weather APIs, Early Flood Alert systems, NLP-powered apps for helping inclusivity at colleges for the visually challenged – examples abound. Brands should see how they can employ consumer facing data-tech initiatives in a way most authentic to their field of play. 

Influencing Social Change: Brands through their advertising can play a big role in shaping society. Consumers, on the other hand, develop stronger relationships with brands that take a stand and show actual action on key issues. Highlighting sustainability initiatives and helping others adopt the same, advocating unity in diversity – brands can look at including these and other key areas of concern facing us into their communication initiatives. 

Innovations to open New Growth Avenues: As sales growth becomes more difficult and new realities disrupt businesses, new avenues are needed for unlocking growth. This includes discarding earlier beliefs. Globally, precision targeting is coming under the scanner, with leading advertisers looking at casting a wider net from a reach perspective. Innovatively engaging with consumers in new avenues of growth, for example cord cutters of linear TV and purchase intent consumers, will be explored. 

Summative Power of Multi-pronged Creatives: Brand presence has to straddle multiple platforms in light of audience fragmentation and shortening attention spans. Multi-pronged creatives will be rendered and customised to derive more effectiveness from the native play on the platforms as well as the unique audience cohorts they offer. Brands that extend their core creative thought seamlessly across platforms will stand to gain from the summative power of these multi-pronged creatives. 

Solving Broken Media Measurement: The financial implications of shooting in the dark due to lack of multimedia measurement will prompt arriving at a way to fix the problem by combining existing and new technology, including moving away from the current panel based measurement. This will need collaboration across all stakeholders – media, advertisers and agencies – with different tech partners joining up to find a comprehensive answer to the media industry’s biggest conundrum.


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