In the digital era, flexibility & choice have moved into the consumers’ hands: Ashish Bhasin

Ashish Bhasin IBMP awards 2021

Industry veteran, Ashish Bhasin shares pertinent insights and tips for brands and agencies, highlighting the current landscape of the A & M Industry, trends he foresees in the coming quarter, and tips on creating agile work processes.

Ashish Bhasin, CEO APAC & Chairman, Dentsu India shares how digital is no longer about just search or performance but is taking new shapes while creating more avenues for the future in the A & M landscape. Bhasin urges agencies to focus on agility, unlearning age-old practices, and being passionate to achieve success in the space.

The State Of A & M Industry

With a never-before-seen pandemic, A & M Industry was caught unaware. “The first phase was to get a grip on the ongoing situation for clients and agencies and look for safety,” says Bhasin. With people cooped up in the then-new Work-From-Home situation, the unsung heroes were the IT guys, he shares.

At such a time, revenues had almost dried up for brands and agencies while the teams re-adjusted the cost structures at various organizations. Gradually, the scenario became better with the onset of the festive season, he highlights, as the period coincided with IPL. The bounce-back continued until February 2021, when the severity of the second wave hit the nation. 

Cut to the recent period, Bhasin says that the monsoons look promising and all signs suggest that things should be good in the near future unless another third wave hits the nation.

Highlighting the relevance of the key channels of communications, he puts forth, “Digital did better than other media, and the demand for digital talent amongst others have increased substantially.”

The Role of Digital

With digital now being mainstream, Bhasin explains how the medium is a broad term with newer shapes and avenues for marketers.

Sharing some statistics, the industry icon cited that many formats have accelerated even on digital owing to the ongoing pandemic – gaming has gone up by 1600 times from 2019 to 2021 if we compare the first six months of the pre-COVID-19 and the post-COVID-19 era. Similarly, the demand for cooking videos has drastically gone up as people cook meals for themselves and their families at home, he says.

“In the digital era, flexibility and choice have moved into the consumers’ hands and therefore all marketers and agencies need to learn to listen.” 

Everything is real-time. The narrative has gone to the hands of the consumers, he explains.

Rise Of Audio Advertising

Bhasin explains, even audio has become digital. While advertising on audio has never been mainstream, he says, but the interactive nature of the medium with digital is making a big difference.

Audio advertising in his opinion will gain momentum, however, the only issue with the medium, shares Bhasin, is that Radio communication does not have a way to measure it yet. “We need to invest more in measurement for it to become mainstream”, he a.dds

Bhasin shares that the communication across digital will undergo evolution with a localized and regional focus for brands and agencies.

“We will have 200-300 billion users on digital from rural areas and the communication will have to be largely localized which will change the flavor of advertising”, he concedes

Also read: The first edition of Voot Presents India’s Best Marketers & Planners (IBMP) Awards live now!

ASCI Guidelines & Influencer Marketing Trends

As the evolution of the A&M landscape continues to change with digital at the forefront, ASCI had released influencer marketing guidelines focusing on authenticity and declaration of paid content. Bhasin agrees that it is essential to self-regulate and if you do not do that then there will be external entities to change things that nobody will like.

“If you have followers, you have influence, and if you have influence, you need to have a sense of responsibility”, he says. With the changing paradigms, he explains that newer guidelines are the right step but they will need modifications with time, keeping the holistic and inclusive approach, intact.

Bhasin believes that agile marketing, real-time marketing, moment marketing is here to stay. While brands need to ask for permission from the influencers while roping them in their ads or even creatives, moment marketing is not going anywhere, he says.

Tips For Marketers

With mental health, safety, and well-being of the people at the forefront, he suggests that freshers and working professionals in the industry need do what they enjoy and are passionate about.

Keeping the best hopes for the future, Ashish Bhasin encapsulates pertinent tips for the brands and agencies:

  • Marketers and advertising agencies need to be a lot more agile. There will be ups and downs and it will not be a straight curve. You should expect uncertainty and volatility in the days to come.
  • You have to unlearn to relearn. 
  • Keep looking for trends that are already there. Be vigilant as COVID-19 is accelerating/decelerating the existing trends

Ashish Bhasin shared his thoughts at the Keynote Session of Voot Presents India’s Best Marketers & Planners summit.


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