Cvl Srinivas Curated
Country Manager at WPP India
CURATED BY :
Brands are pouring lots of money in the content space. Can you elaborate the reason behind this?
Do you have enough Vernacular content to cater to its demand that has been projected?
According to marketers, there is no shortage of money but they are asking a lot more questions before spending on advertising. Is this true?
In 2016, where do you see the ad spends coming from?
Across sectors, TV still forms a very important component of overall media plans. Either for its cost-effective reach or impact – it provides properties like the IPL, reality shows, blockbuster movies, etc., and this year, increasingly for local and regional advertising as well. We will see a lot more advertiser interest in targeting smaller markets and geographies in local or regional channels. We now have a measurement system which covers rural India as well, it will be an impetus to the growth of local and regional language channels. I think at the overall level, we will grow at 15.5 per cent. At one level is not much of a surprise because there is so much of positivity as far as the Indian ad sector is concerned. But at other end, one should keep in mind the global headwinds that are building up. So, one should wait and watch on how the first 4-5 months of this year will pan out. So as we said, we will revisit numbers towards the middle of the year to take stock of what has actually happened. Right now we are hopeful, more optimistic and cautious.
What are your thoughts on performance of traditional media channels?
TV continues to perform well. It sees a combination of investment that broadcasters are making in content, marketing and measurement. As far as a diverse market like India is concerned, it still provides extremely cost-effective reach. So that is working for them. As far as print is concerned, regional languages continue to do well going forward, while some of the other brands are actively moving towards digital, which will help them to expand their presence across platforms. In Radio, we will see a lot of interesting action at the end of this year and probably next year will be a big year because Phase 3 round 1 license will be issued and by the time they get operationalised and radio stations come into play, it will be the third or fourth quarter of this year. So you will see the growth next year. Another interesting trend is growth of Internet radio or radio like apps which are available today. A lot of listenership should be expected on that platform as well. Cinema is another medium which grew at 20 per cent and we can expect the same this year as well. There is a bit of a slowdown as far as auto form is concerned, but we see that picking up in 2016.
Where does India stand as far as contributing to global advertising spends is concerned?
India is the fifth biggest contributor to incremental ad spend growth globally. In 2016, there are six markets that will contribute around 75 per cent of the incremental growth and we are one of them. China continues to be the largest contributor, then you have the US, the UK, Brazil, India and then Japan.
Do you see programmatic buying gaining foothold in the TV space as well?
Programmatic is definitely picking up in the digital space, we are expecting higher growth in 2016. But having said that, compared to other developed markets India still lacks the basic infrastructure required for digital advertising. I think till that falls in place it will not really open up the floodgates, but it is definitely a trend that is catching on.
Does Print still has headroom for growth?
India is one of the few markets where we have a robust print and newspaper industry. I personally believe there is still headroom for growth. There are a lot of clusters and markets where the medium delivers value for advertisers. Given the sectors that we see that will increase in 2016, most of them are skewed towards Print. We see overall growth from 5.2 per cent to 6 per cent. Having said that, the print industry needs to focus a lot more on measurement and also on ideas to ride the digital wave. Many of them have extremely strong brands and a loyal readership base, but are not able to translate these to digital platforms.
What are the key growth drivers for the advertising industry in India in 2016?
At an overall level despite all the global headwinds building up, the Indian GDP is expected to grow anywhere between 7 per cent and 7.5 per cent by all indications. So this is good news. AdEx is estimated to grow at roughly two times the GDP estimate. In terms of individual sectors, we are looking at FMCG, which is still a big contributor to AdEx and continues to invest in brands. They may not grow at the same rate as the previous year, but at the same time we are expecting double digit growth at an overall category level. E-commerce as a category will continue to grow, maybe not as high as last year. Last year perhaps it was at its peak in terms of y-o-y growth. We are seeing some of them taper off a bit, but at the same time it will still remain pretty high, over 25 per cent. Perhaps it may be a year where E-commerce is going to rationalise their spends across different media and infact, perhaps slew more of their spends to digital. Then you have categories like BFSI, which has seen a lot of developments and regulatory changes; there are newer players who are entering this sector that are expected to spend. We are also expecting more spends from the government sector, not just national schemes and state level schemes, but also the five state assembly elections that are going to happen which will see a spurt in advertising. Then you have the ICC T20 World Cup, which is slated to be held in India in February-March. So all put together, there are quite a few positive factors which have led us to believe that we are on track for a 15.5 per cent growth.
What do you think led to Mindshare gaining the No 1 spot?
Mindshare had a fabulous body of work, not just across clients, but also across all the different categories. They've really managed to institutionalise excellence across the entire agency. Mindshare is India's No 1 standalone agency. But when you become No 1 and keep winning, it's also challenging to keep the team motivated and continue to do well, year after year. That's something that's there in the DNA of Mindshare. They have a new leader in Prashant Kumar who took over the reins at Mindshare a few months ago, and I think that has brought in a lot more energy and passion. They're growing from strength to strength.
How are you seeing WPP Campus impact individual agencies in the company and the company itself?
We see this as the single biggest change agent in what we are trying to do that is, in bringing teams to work more closely together for clients and for all our colleagues to feel that they are part of a larger company with common values and a strong vision. We did a staff survey recently which showed findings that an overwhelming majority of our colleagues are excited about the prospects to learn, develop their careers and do exciting work for clients that comes by being a part of the WPP campus.
With the continuous up-gradation of technology, reskilling is becoming an area of prime focus for many companies. What are some of the steps you have taken to create a future-fit workforce?
Talent development is very integral to our strategy to grow and stay future-focused. We have formed a HR Leaders’ Council that has representation from all our agency brands. They share best practices and design programmes and policies at a pan-WPP level. Many of the experts sit within WPP. We harness their knowledge for the benefit of the larger group. Some of our agencies like GroupM have created platforms for learning and development which we plan to leverage across the wider group. Our partners will also play a role in upskilling our talent. Many of them have been actively involved in our training programmes. We regularly host platforms such as Stream, WPP Data summit, WPP Commerce and so on for our clients, people and partners to exchange ideas and gain from each others’ perspective. Our new campus in Mumbai – BAY99 has a 50-seat incubator space where we are inviting partners and startups to come sit with us. This is another initiative aimed at changing mindsets and exposing our colleagues to the latest technology.
When you say marketers are scaling up newer practices, is this an industry wide trend of moving beyond traditional advertising?
We clearly see marketers relying less on traditional advertising going forward and increasing their spend on customer experience, commerce and technology. Outside of FMCG, the shift is happening faster. Agencies of the future need to be able to provide full-funnel marketing services support to clients. At present, the industry in India is still over indexed on communications but the growth is all going to be from the other three pillars. We see the current split of approximately 70 per cent skewed to communication move towards an equal divide over the next couple of years. Many global companies are speaking of partnering at holding company level instead of the level of individual brands. Isn’t this easier said than done, given the mindset shift required at both the holding company and at individual agency level? How do you ensure that you are delivering the best of both to your clients? Increasingly, many of our clients are partnering with us as WPP. Having said that, we have very strong agency brands that have their own unique cultures and fantastic talent. We would like to keep alive and strengthen these cultures but at the same time drive synergy at the backend and ensure we all pull in one direction. The attempt is to therefore, give our clients the best of both worlds. An integrated team (with a WPP team leader in many cases) is having specialists working together with a common purpose.
India is facing a year of near quasi-recession. WPP India has grown in this backdrop nonetheless in 2019. What do you attribute this growth to?
This has been our best year in recent years. Almost all our operating companies are doing well across communications, experience, commerce, technology and the likes. This is due to the stellar performance and hard work of our colleagues across WPP companies that have won us new businesses, grown our business with existing clients and helped to scale up newer practices.
Any interesting advertising media trends that you can share with us?
The first is mobile gaining prominence in media strategy discussions and ways to build effective campaigns for the medium. Building a strong feedback loop in this day and age of strong accountability, clients are pushing us to evaluate campaigns in real time so that course correction can be taken.
What are the key challenges that media agencies face?
First and foremost, there is still a mindset among most advertisers that they need to evaluate their agencies basis the cost efficiency of their media plans. There seems to be over-emphasis on media efficiency often at the cost of brand value. There is a danger of operating with mental models of past. A great example of how brands are going beyond traditional ways of creating value is Hindustan Unilever and Mindshare branded content campaign ‘Six Pack Band’ for Brooke Bond Tea which also won Grand Prix at Cannes, the highest recognition in advertising. It was a fantastic amalgamation of creative, planning, production and media strategy. Talent is another challenge - even though we are a media agency we need creative minds, people who understand content, data and analytic resources.
Are the ad spends on the mobile medium still minuscule (2016)?
As per our estimate, about half of the spends in digital media are going in mobile. The growth rate of mobile is also 2X of overall growth rate of digital medium. We see mobile becoming 70-80% of the total spend on digital. There is a lot of innovation in mobile be it in terms of content, technology or measurement. However, the challenge is we have a very fragmented ecosystem with many players coming in. We are trying our bit to streamline things for our clients. Apart from MMA, we also have our partner ecosystem to take cutting edge solutions to our clients.
Mobile is being touted as the next big thing in advertising. How is GroupM beefing up its capabilities for the medium?
Digital today is almost all mobile. India has become a mobile-first economy and at GroupM, our planning and strategy is mobile-first. We had set up a mobile marketing division in collaboration with MadHouse in China along with a Centre of Excellence in mobile marketing more than six years ago in India. This has helped in gaining insight and understanding in the space. Last year, GroupM also helped incubate Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) - a global body which evangelizes mobile medium in India. MMA India board is being headed by D. Shivakumar chairman and CEO, PepsiCo India with a representation of advertisers, digital media and content companies and agencies.
Has traditional media spend moved to digital (2016)?
In certain cases, it has and in others, digital is just helping to expand the advertising market. We are not seeing large scale shifts; digital in India is still less than 12-13% of the total adex. Television will continue to be a strong medium in the foreseeable future given that it is still a cost-effective medium to reach out to mass scale audience. Print, on the other hand, continues to grow except a certain section which is under pressure due to digital. It is largely led by the growth of regional dailies which is in double digits. It is also because of innovations they have done with their product and marketing strategies extending value to brands in the form of local events and activations. Other media like radio, outdoor and cinema are growing as well. A lot of these mediums are getting on the digital. The print publishers are extending their brand on digital; television is already there with the over the top (OTT) platform, digital audio is taking off in a big way. Soon, it will be difficult to draw a line between traditional and digital spends. As a media owner, if you build a strong brand with a loyal following of readers or viewers, the brand can become format neutral.
How has digital media performed so far (2016)?
We put out our forecast This Year, Next Year report in January this year, basis which we said the digital would grow between 45-50%. The figure was for January-December 2016 versus the same period last year. Digital medium has not disappointed with the data for the first six months being broadly in line with our projections. We are optimistic that we will end the year on a high in terms of digital ad spends growth.
GroupM acquired global digital agency Essence last year. Why did it take time for it to launch in India?
Given that India is opening up a lot more to digital advertising, it was the right time to launch the agency now. GroupM acquired Essence last year, making it the fifth agency of the group globally. Essence is a pure-play digital agency with focus on performance marketing, an area we wanted to get into. It complements the strength and skills, as a group, we already have. Together with Essence, GroupM will have the most complete suite of digital services under one roof.
How do you help clients bridge the gap between Online and Offline Advertising?
How can clients maximize media spends in this complex new environments?
What are your future plans for the WPP in India in terms of data and data usage?
All our teams are completely networked internally between all our WPP companies and our recent ‘Date with Data’ summit is testimony to that. When it comes to leveraging data and analytics, we have expertise and data sitting across various agencies of WPP which we are working to extract and bring together, which enables us to be ahead of the curve. There is a lot of action that we have taken at a company level and specifically with clients, in terms of helping them shape their data vision and data journey going forward.
What are your expectations from the draft bill on data privacy tabled in India?
Directionally, I think it is pretty much in line with our thinking. We feel very positive about what is going to come out of this at the end of the day.
How has GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) impacted you?
GDPR’s ramifications can be felt all across the globe. As a group, we are pretty much on top of these developments and have been advising our clients on how to operate in this new climate. For us in India, the draft bill on data privacy has come at a good time because we are still at the early stages of leveraging data for business growth in a scaled-up and a structured way. In Europe, by the time GDPR came in, a lot of businesses were already leveraging a lot of data so they had to take a step back and re-engineer their entire process. It was almost like a Y2K moment for them. But in India, it has come at a rather early stage. So, as long as we are aware and make efforts to build this thinking into our approaches and processes, we shouldn’t have too many issues.
Global giants like Facebook are facing heat over data privacy infringement. While, data is being hailed there is also a flip side to it. How can this be balanced out?
When it comes to data, we have four guidelines that we put across to our clients and our people. First and foremost, one needs to respect data privacy laws and therefore the understanding of those laws is very important. Secondly, with data, there is the disadvantage of people getting into too much granularity and over-optimising the data and missing the bigger picture. As such, the second guideline that we put across is that data has to be seen in the right context. The third point that we tend to highlight is that creativity and innovation are really very important in ultimately driving success for businesses. Data cannot work against them and in fact, has to supplement or enhance creativity and innovation. As long as you have these guidelines and they are clearly put out and stated up front, one can work towards how best to harness available data and create value for clients. Last but not least, data in its pure form data has no value. It is like a raw material; what you do with data is more important. What sort of insights are you getting from it, how are you applying it to businesses and so on. I have seen examples where a lot of data is thrown at a particular problem but none of it created a solution. So, one needs to pick up relevant pieces of data, dig deep and get the right kind of insights to be able to solve problems.
This was the first time that WPP did something like 'Date with Data'. Why did you zero in on India for the summit? What do you intend to achieve through such summits on data?
At WPP, we are driving an agenda of collaboration, whether it be within our companies or across our companies. We have events and platforms where our companies, clients and industry partners come together to discuss trends and issues that matter to marketing; such as WPP’s Stream and WPP’s BrandZ Most Valuable Indian Brands. ‘Date with Data’ is yet another initiative that was born out of this kind of collaboration. We believe that the time has come for us in India to create this platform and discuss and debate issues and opportunities around data. First of all, data is a very critical component, if not the most critical component in helping drive overall strategy for businesses. Secondly, we are living in an age where data privacy has become an important point to debate and discuss. Thirdly, data is also something that can enhance and help the creative process as well. We wanted to ponder upon these points through this data summit and also to drive home the point that data should not come at the cost of creativity but should rather enhance it.
Are the clients leveraging the use of vernacular content advertising?
How do you see the growth of advertising across different platforms? And how do you see the growth of Print and TV advertising, especially with regards to political advertising?
Are the Advertisers are having more concern around their measurability towards their digital marketing campaigns?
There is concern that an excessive use of data could undermine creativity and intuition. How do you strike a balance between use of data and creativity?
How is use of Direct data and Analytics yielding better ROI for Advertisers?
What is 'Date with Data' Summit by WPP India all about?
With media buying going programmatic, marketers are taking the job in-house. What is your take on this?.
If the idea is to integrate better with business, then we completely subscribe to it. In fact, we are co-locating our teams and embedding critical functions with many of our clients’ businesses. It helps improve coordination and speed of response. As a group, we are pioneers in kickstarting this many years ago. Having a fully-owned and operated model of in-housing comes with its own set of challenges. Some clients have tried it in the past. It needs the right people, culture, products and orientation to become successful. In my personal view, it can be really hard to replicate all the strengths that an agency brings to a client set-up and run it successfully.
Where do you place Google and Facebook? Are they friends or enemies of the advertising community? Is this competition with tech giants healthy for the growth of the industry?
India is a unique ecosystem where the best of global and local players compete. This helps drive innovation and opens up opportunities for marketers. Even the big global players have innovated specifically for our market. In our super connected world, it will become increasingly hard for anyone to not integrate with the larger ecosystem. We have great partnerships with all the players and work together to create value for our clients.
If we were to quantify the impact of data, how much direct impact the use of data has had on ROI for your clients?
As discussed earlier, having a data orientation will not only deliver better ROI for existing brands but can help uncover new products, new distribution channels and new consumer segments. We have numerous examples of clients getting better ROIs across the value chain. Our clients will be showcasing some of their successes during the summit.
This is the first time WPP has called for an initiative like 'Date with Data' in India. How do you expect the industry to benefit from this?
All of WPP India have come together to create this data summit. So firstly, it's a great example of collaboration towards creating value for our clients, partners and people. Being a leader in this space, we felt it's time to create a forum to help accelerate the growth of data journey in a responsible way. This attempt targets getting everyone's understanding on the same page. The forum will give a global and local perspective, a balanced view between today’s requirements versus future opportunities, and bring data & creativity together onto one platform. We’ve had a tremendous response and are eagerly looking forward to hosting and enabling our industry's growth and future together.
Everyone loves data and digital because it is measurable. Is the lack of uniform third-party measurement in India making agencies and marketers rethink the real impact of their campaigns? And therefore, could marketers be rethinking digital budgets?
Audience attention is shifting every day and if you are a brand or an agency, you need to identify where the interest of your audience lies. However, measurement is a concern. As you have rightly pointed out, there exists the lack of a third-party measurement in India. Every digital platform has a different way of counting views/engagement and impressions on videos; whereas we know that the TRP (television rating point) evaluation is fixed and we can calculate it, regardless of whether it's on cable or satellite. Ad agencies, clients, partners and brands need to come together to collectively work on measurement standards to advocate for digital spends. If one takes a more holistic view, digital has more data and can drive more accountability than any other medium. An industry measure will only help create a standardization for the benefit of all. However, often what’s missing is the ability to make right connections between data points to build actionable insights and attribution models.
Data hasn’t just changed the CMO’s role, it has disrupted it. CMOs were traditionally communication and campaign-focused, but it has changed now. As an industry expert, what advice would you like to give to budding CMOs on the use of data in marketing?
The starting point is to understand what all is available across first, second and third-party data and how the relevant data sets can be combined to unlock richer insights for the business. From sharper consumer insights to understanding the full consumer journey to campaign planning and measurement, data can better connect the entire marketing value chain. CMOs will do well to reimagine and rewire their teams, making it a more data-centric marketing organisation. Apart from better marketing ROI for existing brands, data can help unravel new products, new consumer segments and new distribution channels. With a stricter data privacy regime, CMOs need to fully understand the implications of new laws like GDPR and the recommendations put together by the government-appointed committee in India, to get a clearer sense of where things are headed. Keeping the above in mind, CMOs should be wary of falling into the trap of a data-only approach, which could undermine innovation and creativity. The power of ‘the idea’ or the marketing gut is an equally strong driving force towards a successful marketing approach. In the overall scheme of things, data shines in its role as a partner and supporting force for the development of great ideas.
What advice would you like to give to the Advertisement Industry in this COVID-19 crisis?
There is a lot of talk about the crisis having a major impact on Print and the OOH industry. How much time do you think it will take for these sectors to recover? And what do you think they should do right now to ride the COVID-19 crisis?
What advice do you have for the young people in the industry at this COVID-19 time?
In the current scenario, BARC India numbers have shown that viewership has been breaking its own records, particularly in news viewership and digital. Do you think there certain sectors which should continue advertising during this COVID-19 time?
Mark Read said that India is a standout market for WPP. Does this crisis put more pressure on you? How will we cope with this COVID-19 situation?
It has been reported that China's revenues went down by 17% in the first few months of the corona virus outbreak. How do you see this situation hampering the growth of our economy and how much time do you think it will take to recover from this crisis?
What WPP is doing on the CSR front in terms of the Coronavirus crisis?
How are you dealing with your clients during this time of COVID-19 crisis?
As the leader of WPP India and with so many big agencies to handle, how are you keeping the morale of your agency heads and employees high at this COVID-19 crisis?
Where do you see the hope during this corona virus pandemic?
How tough is it not to be complacent as an agency?
Our mantra at GroupM is to stay in control today but be paranoid about tomorrow. We say that only because we live in a media world where things are extremely dynamic and we need to be completely on top of our game not just for today but also for tomorrow, on top of developments in technology especially. This has helped us steadily move up the value chain and lock in very long lasting client partnerships.
Digital is growing rapidly. Is it forcing agencies to rethink how they approach the business?
It has been forcing agencies to rethink for the last seven to eight years almost. Earlier digital was seen to be a silo. But today all agencies have brought digital completely in-house. Digital is more or less integrated with traditional media. Today when you do a media plan you don’t look at TV and digital as two different silos. You can look at a combined plan.
Today with the plethora of media options and platforms available what is the biggest challenge a media buyer faces when it comes to maximising spending efficacy?
The biggest challenge is to manage the fragmentation. Audiences are just getting fragmented across more and more platforms. To reach the same audience today versus five years ago you have to use many more options. You need multiple media touch points and then you need to get into measurement systems that can look at the effect of multiple touch points so that you can decide what has worked and what hasn’t. Outcome-based planning and buying models are replacing older methods.
Three to five years down the road where do you see the Indian Adex?
India is now a top 10 market. In the next 4-5 years, India should come into the top five Ad markets globally We are the only large ad market that is expected to steadily grow in double digits for the foreseeable future.
Will we see more rural marketing initiatives done this year (2018)?
Demand seems to be picking up from rural India and we expect to see a lot more marketing efforts focused here.
What impact have recent advertisers like Patanjali had on the AdEx?
I would say that across many sectors we are seeing heightened competition. Be it FMCG, auto, handsets, BFSI we are seeing newer players and subcategories open up. This is leading to more product innovation and newer marketing techniques. This is also a big contributing factor to the Ad spend growth.
BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) is coming up with digital measurement? How will it impact digital advertising?
Right now there is no industry currency. You have to trust the platforms and private service providers. The industry currency will come from the same source that also gives you TV data. Multi-screen optimisation will be easier.
How will the return of the IRS (Indian Readership Survey) help print?
The fact that it is back is definitely going to help. Any medium needs a measurement currency if it has to get support from advertisers.
What are your views about fragmentation on TV?
The economics may not allow so many players to exist in a genre. Till now TV has been growing in double digits and its share is 45% of the AdEx. We are still in a growth phase as an ad economy but there will definitely be pressure on channels that do not figure in the top three or four in a genre.
Are you in favour of an advertisement cap which would reduce clutter?
It has bee n proven historically that if you regulate the advertising time then it works for everybody. It works for the viewer first and foremost. Anything that works for the viewer works for the advertiser. Anything that works for both the advertiser and viewer works for the media owner. It is a win-win. It will increase engagement levels for the limited amount of advertising. There needs to be the right balance between advertising and content.Generally speaking, having a cap is better than letting ads eat up all the time meant for content.
Is geo-targeting a focus area?
It is a focus area for some of our clients and therefore for us as well.
Besides BARC ( Broadcast Audience Search Council), what tools does GroupM use to judge the efficacy of buying?
Today, there are a lot of tools available to agencies. BARC, obviously, is one of those tools. Then there is data that is gleaned from social media listening to pick out the trends. There is also research that is instituted from time to time by our agencies to find out the efficacy of certain media or certain genres. There is technology available today with companies like Zapr which gives interesting data.
Are you satisfied with BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council)?
BARC has done a good job since they came into existence a few years back. It is not easy to produce a measurement service for a country that is as heterogeneous and complex as India.
How has the IPL changed the game for advertisers?
The IPL has been a revelation of sorts. It is the one truly Indian property that has gone global in terms of the value it has created for all the stakeholders- players, team owners, advertisers, media partners. It has completely changed the rules of the game for sports marketers in India. On the back of the IPL, leagues have come in different sports each with their own format of course. Beyond cricket, it has shown the way in terms of how sports marketing needs to be done.
Is the importance of tentpole properties growing for mass genres like Hindi GEC?
In this day and age of fragmentation when you have more and more channels and viewership getting spread out, tentpole properties become even more important. You need those peaks in your media plan especially when you launch campaigns or when you have an important season coming up when you have high impact in a short burst of time.
How is the kids genre expected to fare?
While it was under indexed there is an opportunity for it to bounce back. A lot of the players are coming up with interesting content and programming. We believe that things will pick up.
What is your take on the FTA boom?
Over the past three to four years they have given advertisers an opportunity to reach audiences in a very cost-efficient manner. But at the end of the day in a media plan, you need to balance out between low-cost low impact vehicles and high-cost high impact vehicles if you need to deliver your brand objectives.
In terms of TV genres which of them is expected to do really well in 2018?
Sports is a genre that is getting quite popular. Earlier it was largely cricket and today advertiser spends are going beyond cricket. Some of the other leagues are getting quite popular. This year would perhaps be a good year for the news genre. We will have a lot of election-related events and developments. We also see interest gaining in HD channels although the numbers are very small.
How does TV fare as a medium in terms of ROI compared to print, radio, digital?
Each medium has its own strengths and limitations. One cannot apply a common yardstick to measure ROI across different media. The biggest benefit of the TV for an advertiser is that you are able to reach audiences at scale in a very cost-efficient manner. You can also segment your audience because TV has very niche offerings. It has different genres, content playing across channels. Of course, TV builds a lot of credibility and trust for brands in our market. This is what studies have shown and that is why even technology and e-com brands spend heavily on television in India.
Why did TV growth rates fall last year (2017)?
The overall AdEx growth fell to 10% and the TV was broadly in line with that. More than 50% of TV’s revenue comes from FMCG and many of these players had a difficult year and cut back on spends. There were also cutbacks from some of the other heavy TV advertisers especially the Telcos and also the Auto sector.
In terms of AdEx contribution which medium is expected to grow the fastest?
In terms of growth rates digital has been growing at the rate of 30-35% for the past several years. That will continue this year as well. TV is expected to come back this year with a 13% growth. Last year the growth rates fell to around 10%. The print is also going to have a better year with a growth of 4%. Cinema and OOH we expect to grow in decent double digits as also radio. Very clearly digital is outstripping other media in terms of growth. But in terms of contribution TV continues to be close to 45% of the total ad spend in India. It has been at this number plus or minus for the past many years. Digital will be close to 18% of the total ad ex by the end of the year. TV and digital are approximately 65% of the total AdEx. Even today print has a 20-25% share. Other media will be less than 10%.
What will be the key growth drivers that drive the AdEx forward this year (2018)?
There are quite a few growth drivers for 2018. First and foremost at an overall level the fact that the economy seems to have picked up in terms of growth. The GDP forecast for the coming year varies between 7-7.5% depending on which source you look at. This is much higher than what it was in 2017. The AdEx growth is directly proportional to the GDP growth. The uncertainty around GST is behind us. The issues that were caused on-ground and at the last mile because of demonetisation are also largely behind us. The entry of newer players in categories like FMCG, BFSI, Auto, Ecom is another factor helping keep the AdEx growth in double digits. 2018 is a pre-election year as well. If you put all of this together we are looking at a 13% number today which is more than 10% last year but which is still less than 14% that we saw in 2015.
2017 was a difficult year with demonetisation and GST. How did GroupM adapt to the situation?
When things slow down media investments are made a lot more judiciously. A lot more questions are asked about outcomes. A lot more measurement metrics need to be put in place. A lot of big-ticket properties which are generally bought months in advance are bought at the last minute. Planning happens in shorter cycles. We have gotten into a pattern where this is built into our systems. Generally speaking there is a heightened demand for accountability at both ends. We need to commit to more accountability with our clients and in turn, our media partners need to be more accountable for our investments.
Where do you see the light at the end of this COVID-19 crisis?
There is no denying the fact that right now are going through very challenging times. I grew up listening to stories about WW2 from my granddad and this is probably a WW2 kind of event for our generation and it's tough and challenging. Everything is very different from the minute you wake up in the morning - the fact that you have to work remotely and we're not sure how long it's going to last, or if there's going to be a cure. So yes, there is no denying the fact that it's challenging. On the other hand, if one looks for the positives, I think there are many. We've seen so many positive changes happen in the last 2-3 weeks. I don't think we've ever seen this kind of a digital transformation in every aspect of our lives — whether personal or professional. We, as organisations, industries and people, have adapted to this and that shows we, as a race, are capable of a lot more, and as organisations as well. It is obviously teaching us to be a lot more patient, and to be focussed and stick to our goals. I think we'll come out stronger. There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel, as and when we reach there. All said and done, India is going to continue to remain the fastest growing major economy, although the numbers are obviously going to come down. It is also going to remain the fastest growing ad market, although again the numbers are going to be scaled down. As things rebound, they are going to get exciting. Clients will need us a lot more than ever, given the challenges they are going to face. So, looking at the agency side, there are exciting times ahead.