Sanjeev Kotnala: Why Advertsiers Have Not Kissed the Digital Frog

05 Nov,2014

By Sanjeev Kotnala


The call for advertisers to keep 20 percent investment in the digital medium is not new. And trust me they have the reason to do so. The world over, the Digital Religion is gathering pace. That leads us to question: Why is DIGITAL, the media child prodigy, not growing fast enough in India? It has the best growth-propelling advertiser-delight vitamins like low-cost, viral, clear measurability, likes, followers, awards, glamour and even a publicly positively inclined industry. Print and TV conspiracy theories fail when one sees them promoting them in industry forums. Will Digital in India remain the Crown Prince that was never crowned?


Digital hasn’t had it so good in this nation. The current government swears by the social medium. The new smart generation is pushing for a digital shift. But the resistance comes from the powerful digital illiterates, the 40-plus sitting in the seat of decision-making. They hide behind the unfulfilled unmeasured tangible ROI and laugh loudly. There is no other media with a better measurement possible. So why is digital not growing?


As a nation, we are sensitive and overtly caring for the minorities. Digital for long has been under focused care, with differentiated laws and uncontrolled supportive aggression coupled with intensified overtones to strength its productivity and understanding. Why have the results remained unchanged?


Is digital a victim of over-expectation and unmeasured under-delivery. May be for the country’s media planners and advertisers….


It is the least understood of mediums.


As a community, we are way behind. We do not crib if the AC rakes for Mumbai local delivered more than a year back are yet to go for trial. We do not crib about the lack of infrastructure. 2014 Mumbai is ready for 2000… and we do not crib. So, dear digital, wait for your turn! What is this with issues of bandwidth, content, screens, cost of access, last mile connectivity etc!? Who asked you to land an A380 loaded with goody bags to land in an airport meant for Cessna aircrafts?!


We are at our best when it comes to doing lip-service and a** licking. Too many day-time gurus who are digital students by night are chasing the market with Internet-based knowledge. The industry leaders and decision-makers openly confess their confusion and unwillingness to experiment with a dynamic technology. They fear the shifting goalpost and the quicksand of technology shift. Even the pseudo-practitioners acknowledge the tireless assault of tsunami of technology and innovation. They no longer are trying to keep pace with it. Instead of just talking, by now the digital Industry should have been creating converts with free education. Maybe there is something to learn from e-retailers. Digital is expecting an orgasmic euphoria without diligent foreplay!


Reservation or minority quota is never an answer. Our country has seen it and yet we never learn. A call for quota in advertising spends is the most stupid call. The clients having burnt their fingers in befriending every new girl who walked in their pub are now far understandingly more serious. Anyone can call for explanations and it can ruin their reputation. Why place 20 percent in Digital, remains an unanswered question. Moreover, there cannot be a worse explanation than ‘Globally brand have shifted’. It does not work with us. See Print and TV. See Multinationals and the global strategy and approaches fail. We are smarter. We need ‘glocal’ approaches or we are willing to create new rules and learn from our own mistakes. Why be nasty to deny us this pleasure of learning?


Seriously, there is something majorly wrong. Digital reminds me of often-repeated unsuccessful matrimonial ads in regional markets ‘Young, smart, fair, well-educated, very beautiful virgin girl’ and she is not finding a match. The reasons may not be what we all think. We do not wish to risk going to unchartered territories. We do not risk taking risks. ‘BE BAD’ we need to be encouraging the industry to be more provocative. In an era of enormous change, we need to remain focussed when getting distraced is so easy. New technology and constant upheaval. Are there to distract. Distraction is the enemy of great work. What’s really needed is to ‘Be Bad’ with Digital more often.


Sorry, Ad Fest Pattaya, for picking up and using your thought ‘BE BAD’



Sanjeev Kotnala is Head Catalyst at INTRADIA ( He believes, the best way forward for an organization is to enhance the potential of  internal teams instead of depending on external resources. He is a management consultant and  conducts  specialised workshops in the area of  Liberating Ideas and  Team bonding.  To contact email him at or tweet at s_kotnala


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