Digital is the way to go, but…

16 Apr,2012



By Robin Thomas


Consumers in India are evolving rapidly from print and radio to television and now digital. Just when you thought that digital was all about display advertising, bulk SMS, search, email advertising and online classifieds, in came the social media, video advertising, smart phones, tablets, apps, mobile advertising and so on.


According to industry estimates there are 120 million internet users in India today, of which almost 30 per cent are from small towns. While India’s broadband internet penetration is still low, it is believed that the next phase of growth in internet will come from mobile users which are estimated to be over 800 million.


As more and more youngsters gain access to various digital platforms, there is a greater need for marketers to not only engage the young consumers, but they must also be able to give them a unique experience across the digital platforms. The IAMAI (Internet And Mobile Association of India), which held its 8th Marketing Conclave, 2012 – ‘Digital Marketing 3.0’ on April 13 in Mumbai, extensively discussed the role of social media, video advertising and mobile advertising in the near future.



Using Social Media:

Today most companies have multiple social networking sites – Facebook, Twiter, LinkedIn and others. There are separate teams handling social media marketing for the company, but, are brands listening to their consumers? Do they interact and respond to queries and complaints? Do marketers understand the social media and know how to monetize it? Or are brands simply satisfied with the number of ‘Likes’ and views they generate on their social networking sites?


Karthik Nagarajan, National Director, Social and Insights, Group M was of the view that unless one is not ready and mature enough as an organisation for the medium, the organization must stay away from social media.


According to Usha Sangwan, Executive Director, LIC India, what brands lack today is the courage to be transparent, they don’t respond to negative feedback and fail to turn the customer as an advocate of their product. “Brands must not see social media as a mere marketing tool and limit to generating numbers alone, but social media must be used mainly for connecting with the TG and co-creating the product. Brands must try and understand their TG and become a part of their customer’s day to day life.”


Virginia Sharma, Chief Marketing Officer, IBM India hit the nail on the head by stating that brands must have the ability to admit their mistake and apologise to the customer. She admitted that while there is a certain amount of fear among brands to apologise for a mistake committed because it may lead to negative public opinion, but felt it is always better to apologise and rectify the mistake which could lead customers to becoming an advocate of the brand.


Vinay Bhatia, Customer Care Associate and Vice President Marketing and Loyalty, Shoppers Stop added that it a company’s reputation is harmed only when it fails to act responsibly to a complaint made, and not when it apologises for a mistake and tries to rectify it. “The problem with the companies today is that they make policies as if the consumer is a criminal. Accepting a feedback and acting upon it will not harm the brand but, if one chooses to remain silent about a complaint, that’s the worst one can do to his brand.”


Leveraging Mobile Advertising:

Besides the social media, mobile advertising is another challenge faced by marketers who have more or less failed to leverage the small screen. Sadly, mobile advertising is largely limited to only SMSes. Marketers are said to often mistake mobile as an extension of broadband internet and as a result they fail to give their consumers a unique experience on mobile.


Speaking from a marketer’s point of view, Ajay Kakar, CMO, Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group stated that although the potential for mobile advertising is high, there is still a section of people who have not seen the mobile as an opportunity. He added that mobile industry must follow the ‘Jo dikhta hain, wahi bikhta hain’ policy and evangalise the benefits of mobile advertising. “Content is very important, don’t tells me about your brand, but tell me what’s in it for me? Give me the case study of successful mobile advertising. What I want to know is how much money mobile advertising is making for my brand and for my business? What you must do is to stop saying ‘buy me, buy me’ but, instead tell me ‘why me, why me’?”


With the introduction of 3G and now 4G services, mobile internet is expected to be faster and with high quality content, better mobile applications, much better video and much more. In addition to these, smart phones and tablets are also said to play important roles in the growth of mobile internet in India.


Mahesh Narayanan, Country Head-Mobile, GoogleIndiasaid that there is not only lack of understanding about mobile advertising, but also lack of discussion about mobile as a medium in board room meetings. “The consumer shift is already happening from traditional media to mobile; however, great amount of content for mobile is yet to be created. People are looking for your brand on their mobile phones but, ironically brands are absent on mobile.”


While mobile subscribers will continue to grow and more people will access internet through their mobile phones, the challenge lies in monetizing the medium and to find newer ways to reach out to consumers besides SMS advertising.


Paul Griswold, Director Product Management, Mobile Marketing, Velti was of the view that mobile is not treated as an integrated part of marketing strategy, but is seen as an extension to online. “There has been a failure to take the advantage of the one on one interactivity mobile offers and just sending SMS is definitely not the way.”


The participants outlined not only the problems but also possible solutions. According to Srinivas Mothey, Head Mobile Marketing and Advertising, One97, the first step is to educate advertisers and agencies about the benefits of mobile advertising. Although every advertiser may have a different view about the medium, nevertheless they need to be encouraged to invest in mobile. “We are also encouraging advertisers to create mobile assets and not just mobile apps. We are beginning to see the positive results but, in order to see more results, it may take some more, but the first step needs to be taken.”


Video Marketing:

Video advertising/ marketing is not a new phenomenon for marketers. Traditionally, marketers are said to be comfortable with video and we have been seeing that on television, and will probably see the same, and in a much bigger way, online and on mobile in the near future.


According to Debadutta Upadhyaya, Vice President, Vdopia Media, there has been over 50 per cent growth in video consumption in the last one year alone, the fourth largest globally. “Unlike other countries,Indiahas made the leap from web to email to social media and now video. There is still a long way to go on the creative aspect because the primary advertising medium of a creative agency has always been television, so creativity in video advertising is bound to take some time.”


As India’s broadband penetration and mobile internet accessibility increases, it would be just a matter of time when video marketing would explode inIndia. Besides online, with 3G and 4G services, video consumption on mobile should be an altogether different experience for users and marketers.


But Shubhranshu Singh, Marketing Director-IndiaandSouth Asia, Visa cautioned: “There is a difference between video on web and video on mobile, and the difference between the two is galloping ahead in terms of content. Perhaps the youngest audience in our country today will watch television online for the first time which could be an opportunity or a threat if we are not ready for it.”


Digital marketing in itself has become 360 degree for marketers. It has gone beyond display and banner advertising, to becoming more interactive and innovative to reach out to consumers. Digital marketing, as the industry players pointed out, is in a transition phase from web, to email and now brands are trying to reach out to their customers through social media, mobile and video.


Marketers must stop considering mobile internet as an extension to online and, therefore, give mobile users unique experience of mobile advertising. Social media must not be seen as a mere marketing but, a medium to interact with their consumers, know their behavior and be a part of their day to day life.


Brands must be receptive to both positive and negative feedback of customers, admit to their mistakes, apologise to the customer and rectify the fault. Digital marketing will undoubtedly grow but, marketers must first be evangalised not only about the benefits of the medium but, also ways and means to leverage it.

Imaging: Rafiq


Post a Comment 

One response to “Digital is the way to go, but…”

  1. Umesh says:

    Digital marketing has become large for marketers. It has to becoming more interactive and innovative to reach out to consumers.