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Media business to see vibrant growth in 2014, predict planners

MUMBAI: Most media agencies predict a good year for the entire media sector in 2014 with television, radio, digital and out of home continuing to grow and print making a revival. The industry also expects media groups to continue consolidating across different formats this calendar, transforming the entire media buying business.

Ashish Bhasin, India chairman and South East Asia CEO at Aegis Group, said digital, out-of-home (OOH), rural and below-the-line (BTL) media will play a much bigger role this calendar. BTL refers to non-mass media promotions such as direct mail campaigns, telemarketing and trade shows. "There will be a clear shift from ATL (above-the-line) to BTL in client spends - a trend that has already started," he said. "Print will hold its own, though focus may shift towards regional print," he added.

In 2014, media planners estimate television will grow by 15-18 per cent, print by 8-10 per cent, and digital media by 30 per cent. In 2013, the media sector is estimated to have grown 7-8 per cent. CVL Srinivas, CEO at GroupM South Asia, pointed out that India is one of the few markets where print continues to be a dominant medium, garnering nearly 40 per cent of the total advertising spend. "Media buyers will look for long-term deals that secure inventory at a certain price coupled with shorter-term opportunistic buys. Content will emerge as a new currency on TV," he said. Srinivas said clients will increasingly opt for integrated media solutions spanning digital and offline against the current majority practice of treating digital as a standalone medium.

Boosting this trend will be the consolidation drive of media groups. Bhasin of Aegis said more and more media owners will consolidate in print, TV, OOH, cinema and in radio, putting pressure on smaller and weaker players. "Media buying will... transform into weaving messaging into content the consumer loves, across formats," he said.

The general elections are expected to provide the biggest impetus to media industry, with print emerging the biggest benefactor. "The general elections will definitely be a huge boost to the advertising industry in 2014.

Expectations are that between television, print and radio there will be an additional advertising money of approximatelyRs 1,000 crore," Nandini Dias, CEO at Lodestar Universal, said. Print medium is expected to consume at least 65 per cent of this money. "Since print is more segmented and has more depth, there are various kinds of ads which are put out on print," a senior media planner said. "There are poll results, classifieds, information of candidates, ads on party manifestos and so on. So print garners the bulk of the advertising election spends," he said.

The person said television is mostly used for umbrella campaigns and the medium captures about 25 per cent of the total advertising spends. And radio is about 10 per cent. According to industry estimates, Congress is expected to spend Rs 500 crore, BJP Rs 300 crore, and all the other parties together Rs 200-300 crore.

The newly introduced cap on television ads - a channel can air a maximum of 12 minutes of ads for every one hour of broadcasting - too is expected to help print media. Some media planners are, meanwhile, sceptical about the industry's prospects in 2014. Debraj Tripathy, MD at Mediacom India, said he expected 2014 to be a more difficult year than 2013, as overall economic condition has not improved.

"It may get little better around the elections. But the second half of the year will be really challenging." Gautam Kiyawat, CEO at Madison Media Group, said: "The first half of 2014 will continue to be soft as marketers are conserving money for the first quarter."