MUMBAI: Legislation and the economy will play a major role in the Indian advertising landscape over the coming year, as advertisers adjust to a cap on broadcast ad time and play safe with content, a leading industry figure has said.

Writing in Firstpost, Anant Rangaswami, the ex-editor of Campaign Asia, pointed to an uncertain economic outlook coupled with the possibility of an inconclusive election, and said that marketers would likely be cutting budgets and avoiding risks.

"The question that will be asked when considering an idea will stay at the mundane, 'will this sell my product or service?'" he said. In this context, he also drew attention to a 20% rise in the number of entries for this year's Effie Awards, the showcase event for effectiveness in marketing and advertising in India.

The issue of effectiveness will also become more prominent as TV advertising rates increase as a result of the broadcast advertising cap of ten minutes per hour. But even the best performing TV channels will be unable to increase rates sufficiently to compensate fully for the reduced inventory, said Rangaswami.

He expected, however, there would be a "collateral benefit" to newspapers from the cap, as declining TV inventory would inevitably mean advertisers maintaining or even increasing their spend in leading newspapers and websites.

Advertisers will also explore other channels, primarily social media, where Rangaswami predicted "an explosion" of brand activity in all aspects of marketing, from handling complaints through testing communications to promoting products and services.

The falling price of smartphones means that mobile too will see increased investment as advertisers focus on delivering content across devices and platforms and start to create material specifically for mobile devices rather than simply adapting TV commericials.

Rangaswami further noted the growing complexity of the marketing environment –an average piece of communication now involves an advertising agency, an events company, a PR agency, a media agency, a social media agency, a digital company, a production house and a media house working together – and argued that multi-partner collaboration would become ever more important.

Citing the examples of Aviva, Tata Motors and Cadbury, he suggested that early movers were learning how to measure RoI on such experiments and those who got it right were "laughing all the way to the bank".

Data sourced from Firstpost; additional content by Warc staff