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Advertisers need to understand and respect consumer’s time and ability to invest, say top leaders

Top professionals from the agency and platform side of business throw light on what in their opinion the current time holds for the ad industry and what lies in the coming future

The FICCI Frames 2023 session, on “What is the future of advertising?”, moderated by Vinit Karnik, Business Head- Entertainment, Group M, saw various ad industry and platform professionals discuss what are some of the current prevalent trends in advertising and where do they believe the ad land is headed.

Kickstarting the session, Rana Barua, Group CEO, Havas Group India, said that from a very Indian perspective, there are very dramatic changes in terms of culture that are happening in all forms of mediums.

Elaborating on some of the emerging trends, he stated that consumers are getting more powerful in terms of the kind of entertainment and content they want to see. 

“It is a phenomenal change that is happening and the sooner the industry understands that the consumer is the king or the queen, the better,” Barua said.

“Data analytics, which is all about understanding the entire consumer journey and experience, is now becoming more critical because what one really needs to do is look at the consumer, face the challenge that’s coming and gear up for how the consumption is happening,” he added.

As per Saurabh Saksena, CEO, VMLY&R India, while there may be a flurry of changes that are happening in advertising, there are some things that are constant and universal- the need to be creative, not just from a lens of creating expression but the need for platforms, mediums and advertisers to be more and more creative.

“Consumers have a lot of power and there is a penalty if we don’t respect their time, they will simply swipe. I think Covid was the biggest accelerator of trends in the past three years, albeit on OTT or e-commerce amongst others,” he added.

With this, he also went on to add that there is more and more pressure on advertisers today when it comes to being able to value the consumer’s time and that is at the heart of everything that the ad industry does- whether it is CRM, use of first-party data, television advertising, social media engagement or even influencer marketing.

“It is important that we value their time and respect their ability to invest in us, and share our messages in addition to liking or even engaging with them,” he said.

From an advertising POV, Saksena also emphasised that the case is such that the advertisers are responsible for getting people and turning them towards a desired behaviour which could be purchase, loyalty, considering them better than somebody else or even sharing their phone numbers.

Gangs T Gangadhar, Co-Founder and Group, CEO, Quotient Ventures, stated that as long as there is a need for building brands and businesses, there will always be a great future for advertising and what could change is how it looks in terms of the shape and form, but the need is irrefutable.

“The consumers’ attention is increasingly splintering and fragmenting therefore choosing a certain medium to put the right message forward is really the challenge. The right to earn the consumer’s time is really a challenge today, therefore, one needs to be interesting and needs to inspire the consumers,” he said.

He also went on to add that in the earlier days, the two terms that were broadly used to describe advertising were “entertain and reform”, but today those have changed to “entertain and inspire”.

Additionally, Rohit Gopakumar, COO, Optimal Media Solutions (Times Group), also pointed out that from a trade perspective, the whole objective is to always to be able to sell to an audience and that each of the group’s verticals will respond to advertising.

“We have the opportunity of trying to pick up local-to-local advertising because the opportunity of retail as a market is humongous,” he added.

He also emphasised that the other thing that the industry players need to understand themselves is who is the one that the industry is advertising for – the audience and not technologies, because it is the economy that’s changing, earlier it was a need economy and now it is a want economy.

“If you look at today’s audience, the people in Tier-1 are socially conscious, but are we (agencies and platforms) already there before technologies or are we socially conscious like them? The classic example is adidas saying that they save the planet,” he stated.

Dheeraj Sinha, CEO, Leo Burnett, South Asia and Chairman BBH India, stated that being an eternal optimist, he feels that this is the best time to be in the advertising and marketing business because earlier on one used to only play around with words and images but today one can play with data and technology, influencer marketing, devising products and solutions and that’s what makes it all the more interesting.

“The value chain is now moving from just advertising to talking down to people and to actually solving human problems and business problems, but what’s lost is the entitlement that advertising had 20 years back and that now people will choose to interact with content if they find it interesting and, therefore, the onus is on us to make the content more interesting and to solve for something that really matters in the consumer’s lives,” he stated.

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