Rapid growth in India’s ad market, China’s slowing: Mindshare Asia Pacific CEO

In a recent interview with Mint at the annual advertising conference, GoaFest, McRae noted that advertising categories such as consumer-packaged goods, automobiles, QSR brands, and banking and financial services (BFSI) have been performing well in India’s advertising sector. This positive trend is expected to continue in the latter half of the year, as indicated by data from Mindshare’s India arm.

Mindshare, owned by GroupM, which also operates Wavemaker and EssenceMediacom, has faced a “consumption slowdown challenge” in India over the last few quarters. However, this is anticipated to improve in the coming months, thanks to prestigious events like the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup and the annual festive season starting in September-October. 

The company has seen year-on-year double-digit growth in first quarter of FY25.

Rewriting the playbook

India’s unique market dynamics are reshaping Mindshare’s approach across the Asia Pacific region, driven by increased innovation. McRae pointed out that global economic challenges have had less impact on Asia compared to other regions, overall benefiting the business landscape.

“What’s interesting here in India, where online commerce is still very small at 6% of the entire commerce business, is that it is evolving very quickly. Retail media combines social commerce, live streaming, influencer marketing, and conversational commerce, creating a challenge in planning but also excitement because India is still on the learning curve compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, especially China,” McRae said.

“All these disciplines are scaling in Asia, making the region a center of gravity for the future of marketing, with India having a profound impact on it,” she added.

The company is now focusing on using more social commerce, influencer marketing, and conversational commerce in India, drawing lessons from other countries in the region. 

Although these trends are still emerging in India, there is significant innovation in advertising and marketing, and the country is expected to quickly integrate these new marketing trends, achieving mainstream status faster than more established markets. 

Companies in India, growing rapidly, have high expectations and are eager for the latest marketing strategies, she said.

“Across Asia Pacific, India is our number two market after China. However, China’s growth is slowing compared to India, which remains a high-growth market due to immense opportunities. High-growth companies in India have very high expectations and want us to explore new market routes and do everything for them,” McRae added.

Due to these changes, the company, which she said “wrote the playbook on media advertising in India,” is now looking to “rewrite it”.

“The adaptation of social commerce and other trends will be swift, and we need to stay ahead of the curve. For instance, we have learned about social commerce from China, better influencer marketing from Indonesia, and conversational commerce from other parts of Southeast Asia,” she added.

McRae emphasized the depth of talent in India, spanning the creative business and data science. “India is a great source of innovation, whether it is for data or tools. We’ve done interesting work with marketing, QR codes, conversational commerce, AI, etc. I’m always inspired by Indians because they always want to experiment, whereas in more mature markets, there’s less desire to experiment due to a lower risk appetite. This means India is creating amazing things that haven’t been seen before,” she said.

As marketing and media channels become more fragmented, a steady stream of data sources is also emerging. Users now provide more data signals from their phones, commerce, and social media. These elements are becoming increasingly important for understanding the market as the need for personalization in media planning and advertising grows. 

“Media never sits still, and AI means that we can think of doing things with greater capacity, which is exciting. There’s a 100% increase in efficiency now too. AI will have a profound impact on everything in general,” she said.

GroupM India’s annual report, This Year Next Year (TYNY), which was released in February, said the overall ad revenue market is expected to incrementally grow by 10% in calendar year 2024 to 1.55 trillion from 2023.

Of the overall sum in 2024, 88,502 crore or 57% of all ad revenue will be driven by digital mediums since the advertising landscape is evolving with the fragmentation of search and the rapid rise of influencer marketing and retail media. 

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