Last Year, This Year
By Shobhana Nair
The financial Year 2013-14 may have ended with some optimism given the forthcoming elections, but was the year good for the advertising and marketing services sector? We spoke to a few industry leaders to get their views about the same and also asked them to look ahead.
Ashish Bhasin, Chairman India & CEO South East Asia, Aegis Group plc:
Last year was a brilliant year for us, because it was the first year that we managed to bring Dentsu and Aegis together to form the DAN Network. We saw a lot of growth in digital, out-of-home, retail and so on. We were happy that our growth rate was two-and-a-half times more than the market growth rate and we managed to gain a lot of market share, etc. For us, it was a good year and it has set the pace for the following year. We are looking forward to more growth as we’ve gathered momentum on the basis of the growth that we had in the past few months. As a model, we have one P&L across the country so nobody is driving to sell just TV or Print to the client. We do whatever is required for the brand as nobody has an agenda. That’s giving us a huge competitive edge in the market. The idea is to give to benefit of specialization to the client.”
Nagesh Alai, Chairman, Draftfcb Group India:
“I would say advertising is inextricably linked to the macro and micro economic environment. Considering that India’s GDP growth for FY 2013-14 is expected to be sub-5 percent, the advertising industry’s growth would be in the range of 5 to 6 percent at best. FCB Ulka Group’s growth would be about 6-7%. Overall, it has been a challenging year for the industry. Given the general elections and a sort of policy and execution vacuum till the new government gets in place and that the macro-economic indicators are still in the caution mode, my personal view is FY 2014-15 is going to be no different than the previous year. There is an air of exuberance and over expectation, which may not materialise in the current year. Note that even a country goes through economic cycles and the worst is not over yet for the Indian economy. Q 4 of the 2014-15 may show some pick-up trends.”
Ashok Venkatramani, Chief Executive Officer, MCCS
It’s a mixed bag as the first half was not good at all due to recession, slowing down of economy, the fear of ad cap getting implemented. The first half was not very good but the second half was marginally better than the first half because of the elections. Overall it has been an average year.
FY 14-15 will augur well if there’s a stable or a strong government. With a Fractured mandate comes uncertainty and then I expect it to be bad.
Suresh Srinivasan, Vice President (Advt), The Hindu Group:
It was a good year for the print industry which fared better than television on an overall basis with reference to revenues. Despite subdued economic conditions coupled with low growth, high inflation and with Forex volatility the industry performed well. The growth was more or less in line with the growth projected, largely contributed by significant growths from Realty, FMCG, Retail and Consumer Durables. Auto, Education and BFSI verticals fared lower than expectations. Rising incomes and infrastructure development in tier2/3 towns saw several retail brands expand their store presence coupled with ad expenditures.
It will be one of the best years for print. AdEx on elections alone will be significant with the rupee getting stronger, stock markets hitting an all time high and with the hope of a stable and better government the economic growth will be higher leading to optimism and higher spends in print advertising.
Auto and BFSI are looking poised for a revival. We are already seeing good volumes in our Tamil daily indicating there is room for good language publications and the trend should continue.”
Asheesh Chatterjee, Chief Financial Officer, RBNL
For the TV market, the growth has not been strong. The 12-minute ad cap & LC1 ratings added a lot of pressure on the TV broadcasting company. But the good news was on the digitization front as there was rapid progress. Hence, clearly it was a mixed year. With respect to our channel, Big Magic has grown steadily and there are a lot of good things that we are expecting from this year like the ad cap which will help a large number of channels as the advertising money will be spread across them including the smaller ones who otherwise were not getting inventory.”
Alok Jalan, Managing Director, Laqshya Media Group:
“It was generally a mixed year. While the year started on a good note and the first quarter was very good, things slowed down in the next two quarters and then bounced back again in the last quarter. Overall the industry growth was about 8-10%. For Laqshya Media Group, revenue- wise it was a mixed year where some verticals and markets showed very high growth while some fared below expectations. That aside, we have looked at new areas to expand our footprint in terms of media ownership.
I feel 2014-15 will be a turnaround year for advertising and marketing industry. I believe that we will see early signs of revival from the first quarter itself and second half of the year is likely to be substantially better. Also industries like BFSI, Auto and Real Estate who were less active in the current financial year will become more active in the coming year by putting more media investments on the table. What I am also looking forward to seeing is the growth of digital OOH advertising in India… it is quickly becoming crucial to the transitioning media ecosystem.”
Roshan Abbas, Managing Director, Encompass Events:
2013 has been a good year for us! We focussed on new business development and got on board brands as diverse as Datsun, Fortis, GVK, Eicher, Samsung etc. Encompass has remained a leader in the business. I asked about 20 agency members of the Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) and most have said the year saw a lot more competition and no growth. Those who focussed on internal cost management or capability building have improved margins while the ones who have invested in IPs over the long term are hoping for a profitable return soon. There were multiple new arena-based events and detonation festivals from EDM to Wellness, etc. but the jury is out on spend versus return.”
Neeraj Roy, MD and CEO, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Pvt. Ltd:
“FY 14 has been one of the most challenging years for the VAS economy in India because of the implementation of the TRAI directive which was initiated back in FY 13 and had a subsequent implementation in July 13. Therefore in the back of that, across the board there would have been very vast erosion. Around the same time, telecom companies were grappling with challenges of cancelling licenses to overall costs going up in this way. It’s really been one of the difficult challenging years. As a company which has been the leader in the industry, we had to experience it the same way. Fortunately for us, there are other areas where we focussed like the gaming industry & the international markets. It’s been a tough year but has only made us more determined & gritty. I don’t see the market turning in an extremely positive territory immediately in the coming financial year. I believe the first 6 months will be extremely crucial as the new government comes into power. It is important to know what will be their outlook towards the telecom economy as it needs a lot of policy driven direction. If that is done then I think it will set the pace for the growth phase in the next couple of years. In FY 15, I would say I am cautiously optimistic about FY 15.”
Jaideep Shergill, CEO, HANMER MSL
We follow a calendar year for global reporting so that’s January to December, 2013. The year was good for us and we grew. In fact the first two months of 2014 have also started on a good note. In my assessment, the industry grew at about 10 percent overall.
Sabyasachi Mitter, Managing Director, Interface Business Solutions (I) Pvt. Ltd:
“I think overall 2013-14 was a tough year for the industry. The rising dollar, political paralysis and an overall depressed sentiment led to a lot of cautious approach by marketers. A lot of independent digital agencies got acquired in the last financial year continuing the trend of consolidation. On an average my estimation of growth for the digital industry would be in the range of 20%. For ibs, the last year has been good with a turnover growing 90% YOY. We have been aggressively investing in talent, research and development hence profit growths have been more modest.
The initial trends point towards a great year ahead. The dollar has dropped below the psychological Rs 60 mark. There is a belief that if the elections result in a decisive and stable government at the centre, overall economic outlook would be extremely positive. On the back of the last two years of caution, this could lead to a 30-40% growth in the digital industry. We at ibs are also extremely bullish about 2014-15.”