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Digital has to be viewed as its own ecosystem: Vikram Sakhuja

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Digital has to be viewed as its own ecosystem: Vikram Sakhuja

According to Vikram Sakhuja, Global CEO, Maxus, the Indian media landscape is still unsure of how to use digital. He stressed that it is necessary for media agencies to realise that digital has to be viewed as an ecosystem of its own, rather than as an add-on to traditional media.

Comparing notes between the media landscape in India and the West, Sakhuja noted that the three phases of the media in India in the last 25 years have been media planning, communication planning, and the current phase of digital planning. He elaborated that the first phase in the late 80s to the early 90s was mostly about reach and frequency, and TV and print dominated the media planning. The next phase was in the last decade, which saw the birth of communication planning and there was much talk of engagement and consumer activation. People were planning based on the share of voice, and more channels such as FM radio appeared. The current phase of digital planning has an understanding that digital is a “must” yet planners are not quite sure what to do with it.

The mindset is still that of a broadcast market today, with the game being of reaching out and ensuring salience at the lowest cost. “There is a premium for reach, impact, association and buzz, and that has to be understood in the context of digital planning,” he said.

Sakhuja added said that the West, in contrast to India, has a lot of conversations on how people are using content so that consumers could be reached anytime and anywhere. “The adage that 'If the content is king, then distribution is god' has been rubbished there. Good content is still the winner,” he maintained.

Elaborating on the increasing fragmentation of reach, he explained how changing symbols mean that one need not stick any more to just one spot with the aim of connecting with the audience. The UK and Europe as a whole, as compared to the US, is “going where the fish are”, said Sakhuja.

Most of these markets do not wonder about the role of digital any more. We need to similarly shift our attitude in the ways we target people. What we need is more behavioural targetting rather than one done based on demographics, Sakhuja opined.

He concluded the session by leaving the audience with a question to ponder on – in the grand scheme of marketing, are marketing budgets an investment to grow brands, or a marketing manager's indulgence?

When asked by a member of the audience about the onus of innovation, he dashed out any misconception about the onus lying on either the client or the agencies. “Ideas can and will come from everywhere. It is simply not realistic to depend on just one entity for innovations,” he said.

Vikram Sakhuja was sharing his views on the topic ‘Through The Looking Glass: A New Media Mindset’ at the 13th edition of the exchange4media Conclave in Mumbai on November 25, 2013. The theme for the Mumbai leg of the Conclave this year was ‘Shifting Media Mindset and Growth Path Ahead’. 

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