Advertising: From 2016, to the industry

New media will chomp old media. It’s no longer the secondary medium. It’s growing to be the main media platform


Dear advertising,

I sense a great upheaval is upon us. The business requires some necessary market corrections. It’s pretty much warped the way things are going. This isn’t about the bigger looming realities of Internet of Things, product digitization, consumerization, connected IDs, programmatic advertising, virtual reality, native video, hybrid adtech, etc. Instead, these are the key trends, changes and themes that will say hello.

Old media won’t die yet. In India, where traditional media has just about covered the country, you will continue to see the rise and co-existence of radio, print and television. Unlike in other locations, where the balance had long shifted to contemporary media, old media will continue to thrive. Long live this newspaper.

But new media will chomp old media. It’s no longer the secondary medium. It’s growing to be the main media platform. Everything digital is getting brighter and more intense. As more and more phones turn smarter, brands will invest away from traditional media. The day isn’t too far before they gobble up the dinosaurs.

Mobile was king, will now be monarch. You knew this was coming. The ubiquitous mobile, that keeps reinventing itself every couple of months, will be prime media. And you will create all content to work first on mobiles, and then on others. The phone will be the first stop for advertising that will get customerized, or customized to the user.

Content creators will rocket. There will be an explosion of content shops, mobile and otherwise. They will come up almost everywhere, with each location offering distinct culture, landscape, food, language, idioms, sights, sounds and stories. As the race for original film, music, pictures, art and photos grows faster, hybrid shops will come and cash in, and weaken regular agencies. The recent arrival of comedy group All India Bakchod as a content agency is just the beginning.

Local and small businesses will boom on Facebook. The user-friendliness of this platform makes it the best bet for local and small businesses to advertise and flourish. It’s quick, easy, focused, and inexpensive compared with mass media. There will be millions of small businesses that run active Facebook pages in India, and that’s going to multiply. Freelance creatives will get busier across the country.

Budgets will run out faster than batteries. With the proliferation of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, the life of average content will be ephemeral. Constantly refreshing timelines will completely drown content, and unless lots of money is pumped in, regular budgets won’t be sufficient. Of course, great content will surf on free and inspired sharing. But great content is a rare jackdaw that plays chess.

Social media will call for experienced handlers. Unlike regular media that bombs impassive audiences, without getting any ack-ack fire, social media communication overlaps into live intelligence. Junior people, while fluent with the medium, aren’t experts at handling mature consumer feedback and their spite. Resorting to prepared responses can save a moment, but when a firestorm comes in, you need experts to step in. As India matures on social media, this business will demand quality stock at the helm.

All agencies should demand more money. Contrary to popular belief, social media deserves your best talent. Each campaign has to be conceptually strong. Posts have to be laid out, much like small print ads. Films, too, have to be scripted well. Considering that the volume of work in a social media campaign is much larger, and involves 24/7 interactive monitoring, you ought to be paid more. Creative work is creative work. It should be platform agnostic. Clients are throwing peanuts, and you are recruiting langurs.

A film is a film is a film. Hello, audiences don’t realize the difference between a web film and a TV film. Film is film. Since most clients consider web films as pariahs, they take their eyes off quality and finesse, and end up with sad films representing their brands. It’s terrible. A web film is at least equal to a TV film because people don’t have filters for different media. Save brands from gushing into the great digital sewer. Bad content is arsenic. It will eat brands from inside.

More brands will get appy and appier. With brands wanting to do more business and commerce directly with the consumer, apps are the way. Better the app and easier the app, more are the chances that it will get used and favoured. I see brands and agencies doing all they can to get people to download them. Every large brand would ideally build embedded app control centres within themselves.

More brands will get misled and misguided. There’s an avalanche of new products, services and e-commerce ideas coming in, and most will be sadly but boldly captained by people with very little brand experience and understanding. Most of them are products hideously spawned in the wake of a Frankenstein economy. With their own limited interpretation of brands. As they sit in hallowed client offices, with financial muscle, they will continue to get their agencies to pander to them. And more dark matter will haunt our consciences. Do take of your people, their spirit, and the drive that will make originality rise over the mediocrity that threatens you.

Yours sincerely,

2016

Prathap Suthan is Managing partner and chief creative officer at Bang in the Middle.

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