The digital age may be upon us, but in the overall advertising pie, digital spends still hold only up to 3-4 per cent share. But as Vikram Sahuja, CEO, GroupM South Asia, said, digital was ordained for a larger share.
Microsoft Advertising, MEC and Mindshare have unveiled a study titled ‘Living with the Internet’ with a two two-fold purpose – to gain better insights into consumers’ online behaviour and to provide marketers and brands with a better understanding of how to utilise these insights to shape up their communication strategies. For this, the agencies surveyed 7,000 online surfers aged between 16 and 54 years, across 11 markets around the globe.
Elaborating on the idea that digital as a channel needed to be integrated into the overall media mix, R Gowthaman (G’Man), Leader, Mindshare South Asia, said, “The role played by this medium changes by categories. Yes, there is apprehension because digital is not yet central to the thinking process. Internet is a marketing channel more than just an advertising channel. The important thing is not to look at taking money out of television or print monies and put it in digital. So, it must not be looked at as a share of advertising expenditure.”
Alok Sinha, Leader, Invention – Mindshare, South Asia, highlighted some key points on the emerging patterns in Internet usage. The study finds that majority of time spent online is habitual, with only 16 per cent prompted by an event, conversation or offline media. It reveals that almost all online sessions start with more personal or intimate destinations such as social networks, emails and blogs; go to the more public forums such as news, entertainment and search; finally going back to the personal destinations.
Attention deficit and multi-tasking are other trends that emerged. In an increasingly connected and multi-tasking world this means that brands need to create strong somatic markers for themselves. Shubha George, Chief Operating Officer, MEC South Asia, identified technology, automobiles and finance as categories that were sampling the digital medium. “Today, even mass categories are sampling the medium, so it is more of which categories are not on digital, rather than which are,” she remarked.
Citing two lessons that the digital medium could learn from television, George said, “Numbers work, so this medium needs to become a broader base for increased revenues. For the television medium, greater interactivity, conversational, more segmentation and differentiation are some aspects that digital can offer.”
An interesting observation by Ravi Rao, Leader – Team Unilever, Mindshare South Asia, was that in the digital medium, reach had no bounds, whereas in television the message was restricted.
The study also captures insights on usage patterns across devices and finds that while smartphones usage at 34 per cent is primarily for seeking information and content sharing, notebooks at 33 per cent is high for transactions and entertainment. Neville Taraporewalla, Director - Microsoft Advertising, Microsoft India, remarked that it was important to know what users were doing online. He said, “Consumption of types of content has changed dramatically and it is interesting for marketers to find a way to communicate the right message, at the right time.”
The findings provide a number of compelling insights about how consumers are behaving on the Internet and what this means for advertisers. With such dynamics in place, marketers need to take a smarter approach to online media by making a brand’s presence fit more naturally into a user’s experience.
The insights gleaned from this survey suggest that by understanding how, when and where the potential consumers spend their time, advertisers can then better engage with their target audience. There is no doubt that advertisers definitely have to work harder to get people’s attention with better targeting and creative strategies.
Sakhuja pointed out that television would be effective for messages that required a communication of emotions. “Television will always remain a family medium that uses emotion and drama. For creativity on the Internet, the sky is the limit,” he said. Increased bandwidth and better measurement systems are other growth drivers for the digital medium.