The advertising industry voices its enthusiasm about the government’s steps towards boosting digital ecosystem in Union Budget 2022-23
As data and digital occupy the centerpiece of the Union Budget 2022-23, advertising agencies rejoice

The advertising industry voices its enthusiasm about the government’s steps towards boosting digital ecosystem in Union Budget 2022-23

As data and digital occupy the centerpiece of the Union Budget 2022-23, advertising agencies rejoice
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget for 2022-23 in Parliament on Tuesday.
  • This year's budget is indexed towards startups, MSMEs, infrastructure projects, rural revival, digital payment apps, telecom growth and affordable housing.
  • We reached out to digital, media and creative agencies to understand how the increased focus on digitalisation, sustainability, blockchain and push to MSME can impact the ad and marketing industry.
Be it the introduction of a Digital University to make education accessible across the country or the proposed launch of a Digital currency by the Reserve Bank of India to the government’s focus on promoting digital payments and fintech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made it is clear that digital is the way forward. The Union Budget 2022-23 aims to boost the country's digital infrastructure and enable a cashless economy.

The government also announced that it will set up an Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) promotion task force to give a push to the animation and gaming industry.

To facilitate the roll-out of 5G mobile services in India, FM Sitharaman said that Spectrum auctions will be conducted in 2022. This, in turn, will give impetus to Voice, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality and pave the way for the Metaverse. The Digital Rupee using blockchain will help Indians accept virtual currency and accelerate cryptocurrency exchange in India. Overall, the budget also shows a promise for Electric Vehicle brands, digital payment apps, MSMEs, gaming industry and start-ups.

We reached out to digital, media and creative agencies to understand how the increased focus on digitalisation, sustainability and blockchain can impact the advertising and marketing industry. Here’s what they said:

Anupriya Acharya, South Asia CEO, Publicis Groupe:

The Budget is positive, growth-oriented and with reforms in the right direction.

The advent of 5G is sure to transform communications – for our industry it will help creation of better AV, voice and AR/VR experiences. It will also fuel digital payments, streaming entertainment, gaming, e-commerce, tele-medicine etc which in turn will aid more Unicorns! It is also heartening to note that a special Task Force is being set up for AVGC (Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic) as this will help us build the much needed capacity both for domestic as well as global markets. And then there have been no changes in income-tax slabs for people, which many consumer segments were worried about. This in turn boosts consumer sentiment. From e-passports, to battery swapping for electric vehicles, setting up of optic fiber in the remotest of villages, setting up of a digital university and skilling through an e-portal, the big push is for technology, digital infrastructure and empowerment.

Narayan Devanathan, Chief Client Officer, dentsu India:

Having gone through the 38-page document of the Finance Minister’s budget speech, I decided to do a search for a couple of words that I thought kept repeating throughout her speech. The words “will be” occurred 110 times in the entire speech. When I narrowed my search to the single word “will,” the number rose to 362.

To me, those two words sum up the essence of what this year’s budget is and is not. What it is, is a future-focused budget, aiming at the distant vision of India@100, with a 25-year Amrit Kaal lead-up. What it is not, and what I felt was sorely needed this year of all years, is a present-focused budget.

A punishing 2021 for the aam aadmi with more-than-usual expenditure on health and sustenance meant the general populace was looking for immediate relief that would place more cash in their household budgets. That did not happen. Nor was there any extraordinary investment in relieving the healthcare expenditure burden. For all the importance of farmers in upcoming poll-bound states, there was neither major sop nor stimulus given to back the importance of agriculture as a spine if not engine of the economy. Even the MSME sectors were only handed a slightly longer lease of life with the extension of the ECLGS, but there was no real move to stimulate consumption by placing more cash at consumers’ disposal, for example, extending LTA claims to restaurants (and not just accommodation).

There is perhaps plenty for the industry to cheer about since it can afford to think about the future and a slightly longer term than just the here and now of survival. The stock market did cheer up even before the FM’s speech, but that only served to underscore the dichotomy between the real health of the population and the Minority of Haves. When the general population probably can’t afford to wait for the benefits of trickle-down economics to reach them in yet another trying year, the dreams and wheels of a consumer-driven economy might move slower than the industry might like, despite the many future-facing and progressive policies announced.

Virat Tandon, Group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas Group:

The union budget can be termed as consistent with the government's vision to reach the 5 trillion GDP mark by 2025-26. Hence, the strong focus on capex to boost infrastructure that connects and streamlines middle India and provides the engines of entrepreneurship across the length and breadth of the country. It also shows India's commitment to bring a digital first economy with the 5G rollout planned for next financial year, clarity on India's policy for cryptocurrency, data centres, EVs and our very own digital Rupee. Start-up culture will continue to flourish with the right policy framework. These investments and policies will generate jobs and go a long way in inclusive and sustainable growth for Bharat.

Anurag Bansal, COO & CFO, DDB Mudra Group:

This Union Budget looks neutral, with no major changes in taxation. The launch of digital Rupee based on blockchain technology is a big move to bring in official cryptocurrency in India. New e-passports with embedded chips would definitely ease overseas travel. Managing the Fiscal deficit while pushing for growth and investments is a great balancing act taken on by the government. It will give a boost to capital investments and infrastructure development.

Kartik Sharma - Group Chief Executive Officer – India, Omnicom Media Group:

With an impetus on holistic growth, developing infrastructure and job creation across sectors, the 2022 union budget shows promise with a focus on the big picture.

Reviving economic growth in the post-pandemic environment has been a focus for this government and this progressive, digital-first, and development-oriented budget reflects that. Not only does it provide a boost to the MSME, agriculture and healthcare verticals, but also signals that investing in infrastructure today will connect India better tomorrow.

With an increased focus on digitization, some of the standouts for me were that the budget recognized the current gaps and opportunities within the education sector, and is advancing towards uplifting India with the creation of a digital ecosystem - one that is focused on upskilling and creating more employment; aligned with the dynamic needs of today. It also aims to further strengthen communications in the rural sector and build upon the overall financialization of India. Furthermore, while the rollout of a 5G ecosystem will improve the quality of services, the launch of digital money, supported by blockchain, signals an increasing focus on transparency.

With consistency in strategic direction and focus on propelling the MSME and start-up ecosystem, this is a welcoming budget for new-age businesses and a hopeful one that will ultimately lead to a boost in the A&M industry as well. We're at the cusp of the next stage of India's digital revolution and although certain factors like data privacy still remain an area to be delved deeper into, as infrastructure and banking penetrate further into rural India, we’re looking hopeful and strong to transform into a forward-leaning digital economy of tomorrow.”

Deepak Mittal, CEO and Co-Founder, TO THE NEW:

The government's unprecedented commitment to technology innovation and adoption in this union budget is highly encouraging. Breakthrough developments and futuristic technology such as the introduction of digital currency, the rollout of 5G within FY22-23, and e-passports using embedded chips are exciting for the country's future. Among the measures announced, the budget highlights special incentives to startups and the launch of a progressive, new portal encouraging a digital ecosystem for skilling and upskilling. These initiatives will serve as a successful catalyst for the country's economic growth.

Atul Shrivastava, Group CEO & Executive Director at Laqshya Media Group:

The union Budget underlined the government’s focus on long-term growth. As India’s economic growth is estimated to be 9.2% in the upcoming financial year so it would be good for all the industry and with overall growth, we are sure advertising & media will also show remarkable growth which was low due to the pandemic in the last couple of years. As announced the National Highways to be expanded by 25,000 km under PM Gati Shakti mission. Highways are adding a new dimension to the growth of the OOH Industry as advertising on the Highways is emerging as very strong choice for brand building for many categories.

Prasad Shejale, Founder and CEO, Logicserve Digital:

The FM has announced a very progressive budget with an intention to widen India's horizons and outlook in the next five years, leveraging emerging technologies. The Government has addressed some urgent priorities underpinning the digital sector, including the launch of digital currency, API-based skill credentials, digital learning channels, digitization of manual processes, etc.

On the digital connectivity front, the 5G spectrum auctions will finally make the dream of a tech-savvy India a reality, further boosting the country's digital infrastructure. Additionally, the launch of a design-led manufacturing scheme for the 5G ecosystem as part of the PLI scheme will ensure affordable broadband and mobile communication even in far-flung areas. The availability of high-speed internet connectivity in urban as well as rural areas will encourage marketers to experiment with blockchain, AR, VR.

On the skilling front, initiatives like establishing a digital university will provide an opportunity for youth to learn new skills from the comfort of their homes. The creation of a new task force to build domestic capacity in the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic (AVGC) sector is commendable.

The overall budget is future tech-enabled and balanced.

Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, Global CEO & Co-founder, GOZOOP Group:

While there will always be hope for more and better, the continued push towards digital, fintech and the boost for start-up ecosystem with the extension of tax benefits till March 2023 along with capping the surcharge at 15% irrespective of the amount of long term capital gains, will fuel the fire of entrepreneurship in our nation.

Varun Duggirala, Entrepreneur, Co-founder of The Glitch, Author, Content Creator and a Podcaster:

The twin announcements of the digital rupee and the taxation on ‘virtual digital assets’ is clearly a focused drive from the government to regulate the crypto space. What needs to be seen is how this plays out because regulating a decentralized space is a paradox in itself.

Another point that stood out for me was the national mental health program. More than anything else it signifies the normalizing of mental health as a legitimate area of focus for us as a nation.

Shrenik Gandhi, CEO and Co-founder, White Rivers Media:

In my opinion, it is a fairly balanced budget. There is sufficient emphasis being laid on up-skilling, and making right investments in tech which is the need of the hour. The previous budget was more inclined towards setting up a strong foundation in the digital space, and this one is essentially focused on making further advancements.

Besides, Digital Rupee being introduced is indeed, a great news across sectors and it will be exciting to finally watch it become a reality. It can prove to be a game-changer in India's future as transactions will become even more instantaneous.

Speaking of the expected benefits, let’s not forget that this is India’s #Budget and not a Big Bazaar scheme announcement. So, the immediate benefit may not be seen right now but considering the long-term narrative, it is a fairly established budget.

Sahil Chopra, Founder & CEO- iCubesWire:

While the general trend of the union budget 2022 has its emphasis on ease of doing business, I strongly believe, data and digital occupied the centerpiece of the budget. The plans to focus and promote the fintech and digital economy are a very strong positive move. New age technologies, keeping data and digital at heart of it will allow the tech enablers to transform multiple industries. For MSMEs, the government has plans to outlay Rs 2 trillion which is again a welcoming move that will help in enhancing startups as well as entrepreneurial opportunities for all. Besides, extension on tax exemption to startups and promotion of startups to facilitate ‘Drone Shakti’ through varied applications and drones as a service is also encouraging. The ambitious optical fibre to the villages under PPP in 2022-23 shall get the next 100M in the Digital Universe soon. To sum up, it’s a positive budget for the digital sector which has always vouched for a strong digital infrastructure in the country."

Chetan Asher, Founder and CEO, Tonic Worldwide:

The budget clearly will help the country march towards digital adoption and transformation in many sectors. With 5G rollout on the cards we will see an acceleration across the board. The digital rupee will put India right up on the map of advanced digital economies. Clarity on Digital assets and crypto will give it new impetus. All of these initiatives will help us emerge as leaders in adoption and growth of blockchain technology

Ambika Sharma, Founder & MD, Pulp Strategy:

The Budget is interesting as the Government has focused on all sectors. The financial support for the digital payments ecosystem is a welcome move and further reaffirms the Government of India's digital banking push. This push on digitization will make way for more inclusion in the ecosystem. The focus on 'Ease of doing business is a great step, as it will further promote entrepreneurship in the economy” . The 2022-23 budget finely balanced fiscal retreat with supporting economic recovery. The budget focused on a familiar strategy of driving capital expenditure to drive growth, to crowd in private investment through higher public spending. Although markets could be disappointed with a higher fiscal deficit of 6.4% of GDP for FY23 than expected, it is perhaps prudent to not undertake aggressive fiscal consolidation at this nascent stage of recovery. While elevated market borrowings are likely to pressurize bond yields, the inclusion of green bonds in the borrowing plan is an interesting innovation. In terms of specific policy announcements, the move towards self-reliance through protection for domestic manufacturers (change in custom and import duties) aligns with the long-term goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat. The government has extended the startup tax holiday and concessional tax for manufacturing startups by a year. While that was on the cards, it doesn’t address the core need of startups to be given a longer tax holiday of 5 years as required. One of the most encouraging aspects of the budget has been the announcement to set up an AVGC (animation, visual effects, gaming, and comics) promotion task force to plan and build domestic capacity for serving domestic as well as global markets. Loss from the transfer of virtual digital assets cannot be set off against any other income. The creation of a unified logistics platform and the developments of 100 new cargo terminals in the next three years are significant steps in improving the supply chain ecosystem in the country. Infrastructure status given to Data Centers will provide a huge boost to the fast-evolving digital environment of the country. The fiscal outcome is broadly in line with our expectations with the government having continued its focus on infrastructure and rural demand.

Himanshu Arya, Founder and CEO, Grapes:

The Union Budget for the financial year 2022-23 has set the stage with an invigorated focus on ramping up the process of the digital revolution. The government’s focus on the digital ecosystem is a progressive move to render an inclusive landscape for job openings and entrepreneurial opportunities. The extension of tax incentives for startups for one more year will give a slight relief to the industry. I hope that the cash flow improves in the market. The Union Budget has various encouraging initiatives and is directed towards a more viable and flexible business ecosystem that completely aligns with the ideologies of Make in India.

Siddharth Devnani, Co-Founder & Director, SoCheers:

Digital and digitization stood out as a strong overall trend in the Union Budget 2022. The budget put a great focus on long-term growth and given how intricately ‘digital’ was integrated into several measures, it can be seen as an integral part of that growth.

Implementation of the Central Bank digital currency will definitively aid the growth of digital economy and finance in the country, opening doors for digital acceleration across sectors. The announcement about the new digital university and the renewed focus on digital learning, further presents an opportunity, especially to the fast-evolving Educational Technology sector. However, a definite plan on how this will pan out for all corners of India remains to be seen.

Moreover, digital will also be leveraged in the set-up and operation of tele-mental health centres, providing the necessary focus and access to mental health services to the Indian masses. This comes as one of the most welcome move as it’ll contribute infinitely to the nation’s long-term growth.