Google’s new ad-blocking version of Chrome, live since February 15, has resulted in a push towards a platform that offers better control over the content and format of advertisements, claim experts. Marketers looking to spend money on advertising are soon set to increase spending on branded content and video advertising, say experts, and appear to be relatively less enthusiastic about traditional ads.

Though Chrome’s ad filter will not block all ads — only those that fail to meet the standards set by the industry trade group Coalition for Better Ads — social networks Facebook and Instagram have brushed up their branded content guidelines around the same time.

“Globally, there is a resurgence of great content, especially with the advent of digital platforms and new ways for consumers to access the content. But with several ad-blocking softwares available online today, it is getting more difficult for brands to reach their target audience,” Myleeta Aga, SVP and GM - South and South-East Asia, BBC Worldwide, told BusinessLine .

The right content

Another challenge, especially in India, according to CVL Srinivas, Country Manager, WPP India, and CEO, GroupM South Asia, is that people are not very happy paying for content. To that extent, “it becomes all the more imperative to create the right digital assets with the right content.”

Enter the era of branded content. Kunal Jeswani, CEO, Ogilvy & Mather India, said branded content is a very large, diverse space. “Everything from TV sponsorships to in-content product placement initiatives; everything from co-created brand-at-heart TV content initiatives to every form of digital video that comes from the brand or from a third-party with the brand embedded in it, is loosely referred to as branded content,” he said.

As marketers increase spends on the creation and deployment of content, it is crucial to bring intelligence to what drives effectiveness in the content space. Recently, Wavemaker, GroupM’s media, content and technology agency, partnered with O&M to create an ‘Effectiveness Lab’ in India.

Branded content is the first space the lab will explore, in a bid to probe how consumers respond to different content strategies, creative approaches and formats.

“For most of the digital branded content, there is no measure of effectiveness that clients seriously look at, beyond ‘views’,” said Jeswani, adding: “Any client who is doing more to understand the effectiveness of digital branded content in any way, deserves kudos.”

An acquisition also points to this heightened activity. Recently, WPP’s GroupM, a global media investment management company, acquired creative agency The Glitch in India. Srinivas said that with The Glitch, the company has found a partner with “creative and content skills” that could leverage GroupM’s unique assets to create effective solutions.

Cross-platform marketing

With India set to become the 10th-largest ad spends market in 2018, (it was the 11th in 2017), the key to advertising and marketing will be to eliminate silos and bring about cross-platform marketing and good content.

At GroupM’s recent media and marketing forecasting series ‘This Year, Next Year’, drawn from data supplied by holding company WPP, Srinivas said cross-platform marketing is the norm of today’s connected environment. “Today’s trends are around data, content creation and distribution and sports programming, and a common thread between all is the digital platform, which is core to the growth of media in India,” he said.

With 35 per cent of all incremental ad spends set to go towards digital advertising (including mobile) this year, according to GroupM’s advertising expenditure (Adex) forecast, digital Adex is expected to continue to grow 30 per cent in 2018 to ₹12,337 crore. Video advertising on digital is estimated to grow at 54 per cent, as bandwidth improves and data and mobility devices become more economical for the consumer.

Experts add that good video content is proving highly popular on social media, and most platforms are looking to add new features and formats. While 2018 is expected to see a marked increase in the use of video, live video streams will soon become the favoured route.