afaqs! news bureau

Media and tech trends in a nutshell

A look back at the most significant trends from the year gone by.

The rise of connected TVs. Alternate distribution models for OTT platforms. Metaverse. Short video formats. These are just some of the key trends we witnessed in 2022. As we come to the close of the year, we look back at some rising trends and major events. 

Short-video reigns

When Beijing-based ByteDance’s TikTok was banned in India in mid-2020, many homegrown short-form video apps came into focus. The growing popularity of these platforms has provided a boost to India's creator economy. Be it entertainment content or live commerce, short video platforms quickly evolved to cater to vast content demands of the audiences.

India’s short-form video apps is expected to form a bigger slice of the digital advertising pie, as per a recent RedSeer Consulting’s report. It says that “by 2030, short-form can take close to 10-20% of the overall digital ad pie.”

While short form video platforms have enjoyed advertiser interest in 2022, considering its rising popularity, monetisation will remain a challenge for most, if not all, short-video apps in India.

India, with about 230 million users, is the largest market for Instagram globally. In July, the company announced that Reels is the biggest engagement growth driver for Instagram. This is because Indian users make nearly six million Reels daily.

In 2022, YouTube Shorts touched 1.5 billion-plus monthly logged-in users globally, and generated 30 billion views per day, four times more than the past year. With this growing popularity, Shorts announced that starting January 2023, its creators will have a share of YouTube’s revenue. YouTube will add the revenues generated from the ads to the Shorts feed and pay a share to the creators at the end of each month.

India's bundled OTT ecosystem

It was telecom operators who began offering aggregated OTT service as part of the mobile tariff plans. Now, the market is flooded with app-based aggregators, DTH operators and even OTT platforms themselves. 

An OTT aggregator allows a viewer to watch multiple streaming services on one platform through a single login as well as payment mechanism. 

As OTT platforms reach a saturation in new subscriptions, they are turning to these services for customer acquisition. Research shows that more than half of the country’s 73 million subscriptions in 2021 came from OTT bundling with other services. The aggregators can add at least 20-30% of subscribers to the existing base of the streaming platforms. With the OTT market maturing and more services entering the space, this is a trend to watch out for in 2023.  

The connected TV revolution

The smartphone is so 2021. In 2023, prepare to hear more about the connected television revolution. And marketers will allocate their experiment ad budgets to this new shiny thing that is all the rage. With about 20 million C-TV households in India (about 10% of all TV households) ad spending in this segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 47% between 2022 and 2027, according to GroupM-Kantar report. 

CTV ads are those that can be served on smart TVs, OTT platforms like Disney+ Hotstar, Voot, MX Player and SonyLIV, or through devices like the Amazon Fire Stick. By 2025, India’s CTV households could swell to 40 million. And by 2027, Indian brands could spend $395 million on CTV advertising.

Gaming in India piques brand interest in 2022

2022 saw online gaming and its increasing relevance to the modern pop culture as a key emerging trend in India. A report released by Dentsu titled 'Gaming Report India 2022 - For the Game' stated that the number of Indian gamers is expanding at a compounded annual growth rate of 12%. It estimates that the country will be home to 700 million gamers by 2025. This is a jump of about 200 million when compared to 2021. 

This increased engagement has also captured the interest of the advertising and marketing industry. A report released by InMobi states that about 75 percent of brands in India have been advertising on mobile gaming apps for more than a year. This has led to a two-fold increase in gaming ad spends since 2020. In this, 97% of marketers advertising on mobile gaming environments are satisfied with their experience and results. 

As the year came to a close, e-sports received official recognition as a multi-sports event in India. This is expected to give a fillip to the whole ecosystem of game publishers, streaming platforms, eSports organisers and teams, creating more opportunities for employment and monetisation in the space. 

Tech majors cut thousands of jobs owing to ‘unfavourable market conditions’

The tech majors faced a tough year. Gauging a shift in the market, companies like Alphabet (Google and YouTube’s parent company), Meta (Facebook and WhatsApp’s parent company), and Twitter (recently acquired by Tesla CEO Elon Musk), are aggressively cutting costs

Meta’s revenues dropped two consecutive quarters (Q2 and Q3) in 2022. This led to the company laying off about 13 percent of its global workforce, that is, a total of 11,000 employees. This is the first time in the company's 18 year history that it has been forced to make such broad job cuts.

Social media platform Twitter witnessed a lot of changes in the first month of Elon Musk’s takeover as the new CEO of the company. He made a lot of business decisions post taking over the company after a $44 billion transaction. One of these was to trim down the team. When Musk took over, Twitter had nearly 7,500 employees. Within three weeks, the number declined to about 2,700. More employees started putting in their papers post the mass layoffs. As of December 23, 2022, the number of Twitter employees is down to under 2,000. 

While it wasn’t as grim for Google, the company is expected to slash its global workforce by 6%. Reports suggest that the company plans to layoff  employees in the low-ranking categories under the new performance review system. Multiple reports from November suggested that the company is going to implement a performance improvement plan to gradually let go of 10,000 employees. The planned layoffs are in response to pressure from unfavourable market circumstances and the need to reduce expenses.

Brands go Meta 

A Deloitte report published in December observed that Metaverse will act as a catalyst in providing creative freedom to brands and businesses to use and secure meaningful experiences. The report says media, gaming and entertainment industries will take the lead in the adoption of metaverse. While brands have run meta-experiments, the uptake has been slow in India. What began as a fad in early 2022 is now being looked at from a long-term lens.

Several brands gave metaverse a shot in 2022. Hershey's India forayed into metaverse with the launch of ‘Hersheyverse' in December. ESPNCricinfo, a cricket news website, launched Cricinfoverse on Meta in a bid to better connect with their existing userbase. 

Brands also utilised the metaverse to drive interaction with consumers. Flipkart forayed into the Metaverse in October with Flipverse. Flipverse became a metaverse space where consumers can discover products in a photorealistic virtual destination and shop on Flipkart App. bOAt also hosted a virtual concert in the metaverse.  

The coming together of Moj and MX TakaTak

Times Internet’s MX TakaTak and ShareChat’s Moj merged in February to create India’s largest short video platform with 300 million monthly active users (MAU), 100 million creators and nearly 250 billion monthly video views. The two platforms are now controlled by ShareChat, a social media and social networking service developed by India’s Mohalla Tech. Media reports suggest that the deal is worth $900 million in a cash and equity mix.

Reliance on an acquisition spree

While many Indian brands adopted the ‘House of Brands’ strategy to acquire sizable and already established businesses, one conglomerate seemed to be on a shopping spree the entire 2022.

Isha Ambani announced that Reliance Retail will launch a fast-moving consumer goods business in 2022. In 2021, Reliance entered into the Pharmacy Retail segment with the acquisition of Netmeds. This year, it launched New Commerce operations through Netmeds Wholesale and onboarded merchants across 1,900 towns. 

Later in the year, as a part of its foray in the FMCG business, Reliance Industries acquired soft drink brands Campa and Sosyo from Pure Drink group to scale up the FMCG business. Foraying in the Food and Beverage industry, Reliance Brands announced a strategic partnership with global fresh food & organic coffee chain, Pret A Manger, to launch and build the brand in India. 

In July, Reliance Retail entered a long-term partnership with Gap Inc. to bring the American fashion brand to India. In September, the company launched its fashion and lifestyle departmental store format, Reliance Centro. Later in the same month, Reliance Retail launched a premium fashion and lifestyle store brand, AZORTE. 

Reliance Industries was seen buying brands across diverse categories throughout 2022. From buying 25.8% for Rs. 24 crores in Dunzo to acquiring a Rs. 1.5 crore majority stake in Insights Cosmetics, Reliance’s aim is to strengthen its position in India’s retail and FMCG segments.

In December, Reliance Retail launched its made-for-India consumer packaged goods brand ‘Independence’ in Gujarat. The company will be selling products ranging from staples to processed foods and other daily essentials. 

Few other brands that the company acquired during the year include, Clovia for Rs. 950 crores (89% stake), 100% stake in Metro Cash and Carry for Rs. 2,850 crores and a slew of designer brands including Manish Malhotra, Ritu Kumar, Satya Paul and Raghavendra Rathore.

Was ‘Super App’ just a fad?

Tata Group launched its all-in-one super app ‘Tata Neu’ on April 7. Being the title sponsor of the IPL, Tata launched the app on the property. The app was a one-stop destination for various digital needs such as making payments, shopping, travelling, and more. Moreover, it also offers access to all the services and brands by Tata that include 1mg, Croma, Tata Cliq, BigBasket, and more.

While the concept of a super app is common in China, it is relatively new for Indian users. Indian consumers have become habitual of using certain apps for specific purposes and hence it is a challenge for a new super aggregator app to replace all of them or integrate all services into one.

As far as, Tata Neu app is concerned, experts believe that there is no synergy among the brands that are part of a Tata Neu app – most people do not even know that 1mg is a Tata brand or Vistara is a Tata brand. Unless there is a clear differential and incentive to use a super app, a transition for Indian users seems difficult. 

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