Dhanushka Amarasekara


How social media is transforming the ad industry amid an economic crisis

The advertising industry as it is today
Over-saturated markets with brands vying for a limited range of positions have resulted in creative stagnation for ad campaigns.

And the result of this is…
The creative take among competing brands is quite often uniform and uninteresting.

Industry differentiation
With a long history of brand marketing in the country, Sri Lanka has plenty of service professionals whose offerings range from specific to full service – including both mass and niche segments.

Industry strengths
Particularly for mass-market brands, for which there is the strongest consumer demand, our ad industry appears to have perfected its approach.

Trends and innovations
With the growth of social media, there’s a shift in content distribution channels from traditional print and TV to social media platforms.

Barriers to industry growth in Sri Lanka
A growing lack of imagination among consumers and brands, as well as the agencies that service them.

To overcome this…
Start looking outwards – not only at India but other countries too.

How this will help
While we can’t replicate global campaigns and messaging, Sri Lanka can certainly learn from them to start developing more discerning consumer segments.

Impact of social media on ad agencies
It’s an unavoidable evil or a godsend, depending on how you look at it. However, it’s making the pace at which content is rolled out quite strenuous.

Digital shaping of the ad industry
The shift to digital is an evolutionary change we must all accept. How we exploit it to benefit our clients and brands is up to us as advertising professionals.

Sri Lanka’s readiness for tech adoption
We are capable technologically and the markets are responsive; but the impact is still largely felt only along the aspects of engagement.

This means that…
There is a long way to go before we are able to drive conversion through tech.

Importance of adhering to an ethical code
It’s a no-brainer: never advertise a value proposition that your product or service cannot deliver.

Competition in the marketplace
Very fierce but also quite concentrated in how it is aligned. There’s still a lot of room left for brands to manoeuvre and differentiate themselves.

Strategy to stay ahead
Tell audiences something they need to hear about your brand; not only what they want or expect from it.

In addition…
If you are passionate about what your brand stands for, own it. Let audiences relate to the brand on its own terms as well.

Evolving consumer trends
The economic downturn, which has severely reduced consumers’ disposable incomes.

Spending considerations
Spending is decided based on necessity first and items perceived as luxuries thereafter.

Consumer spending trends
Spending on necessities is seeing shifts to cheaper and sometimes lower quality substitutes, simply to be able to afford certain luxuries such as dining out.

People don’t want to compromise on some aspects of their lifestyles.

Main impact of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis
An overall contraction of the economy; and when that happens, advertising budgets are among the first to be downsized by businesses.

The way out8
This is not an absolute – agencies servicing well performing sectors will still be able to carry out their campaigns.

Ad industry status
The ad industry has shrunk in proportion to the prevailing economic environment.

Focus areas of improvement for advertising professionals
We need to identify low-cost, high return touch points in the customer journey that are typically overlooked during media buying, and target them.

Vision for Sri Lanka’s ad industry
Very simply, be progressive and globally adaptive.

Your mantra for success
Pay attention to every conceivable detail with perfection in mind… and excellence will ensue.

Compiled by Dona Senara

Dhanushka Amarasekara is the Founder and Executive Creative Director of Morpho Design Studio.