Ramesh Narayan: Takeaways from DigiAsia 2014

20 Nov,2014

By Ramesh Narayan


Taiwan has always been at the cutting edge of technology, and Stan Shih the founder and Chairman of Acer is someone who can claim to be the father of the now-humble calculator and the desktop PC. The venerable icon of the computing era was a great choice to kick off Digi Asia, the new title curated by the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA) in Taipei on November 12, 2014.


So what were the key takeaways from this conference?


While technology is something that has heralded awesome change in our lives, we seem to have arrived at a stage where we are no more limited by it. If at all we are only limited by our own imagination. The era of hi-tech is giving way to the era of hi-touch. It’s more about the user. What she does, what she wants, where she wants it and how she likes it. Yes, even the logo of Digi Asia used the words ‘technology” and “humanity” in it signaling the complete shift from tech to decoding the user.


The smartphone is where the future wars for marketshare and mindshare will be fought. And the terrifying thing is that the future is today. Gone are the days of predicting trends. These are days of digital tracking and exhaustive analytics in real time. Research, as we know it. is being comprehensively re-defined. Large corporates already have war-rooms with multiple screens tracking online chatter, analysing it and feeding it to relevant stakeholders for immediate action. The brave young world populated by younger Asians, and definitely younger Indians are a whole new breed and legacy managers couldn’t even begin understanding their minds. The best they can do is set up ecosystems that encourage the younger team members to think freely, experiment and come up with solutions that would resonate with their own age groups in the market.


Life as we know it, even in India will really change once less expensive smartphones flood the market and more efficient data platforms are put into place. Both these are not wistful propositions but very real possibilities in the next 12-18 months. Then it will be time to apply every digital learning to tap into the enormous changes that will be felt all across the Indian market. And that means the savvy marketer is already putting in place her strategy to cope with all this disruption.


There will be dramatic consumer shifts both from PC to Mobile, or in our case, straight onto mobile. There will also be a move from TV to Online Videos. Advertisers would need to move from Display to Native and Online video content along with cross-format, cross-device offerings. And Data-Driven Programmatic Buying could well be the order of the day. And of course what India’s Neeraj Roy said about planning for the transactional economy was well appreciated.


And finally, while content will rule, the enabler of content will necessarily be the power behind the throne. Yes, creativity will be more in demand that ever before. Creative thinking that creates content fine-tuned for the digital medium, not adapted from traditional media. And this creativity cannot stop with creating ideas that garner awareness and induce sales in the immediate term. It must dare to innovate in a manner that keeps the customer excited and engaged while carefully eliminating complexity out of the innovative matrix.


So let’s look forward to a breed of mavericks who discard old rules with the disdain they deserve. Who become the choreographers of the narrative spaces for brands and who are given the time to indulge in personal social responsibility (PSR) that create ideas that are genuinely useful to their consumers.


Veteran mediaperson Ramesh Narayan was part of the Indian delegation at Digi Asia 2014 held in Taiwan from November 11-14.  This report appeared in ‘dna of brands’ issue dated November 17, 2014.


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