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Social 'value' over 'volume', customer connect key to digital advertising: Shalabh Saxena

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Social 'value' over 'volume', customer connect key to digital advertising: Shalabh Saxena

Shalabh Saxena, Chief Operating Officer, Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance Company, urges brands to make the most of digital marketing using mobile, social media platforms and online videos. At the heart of it though, he advises brands to focus on consumer experience. Saxena is a jury member of exchange4media’s Indian Digital Media Awards (IDMA) to be held on June 16, 2017. He shares his insights on trends highlighting the digital advertising space, what brands must do differently and more in the following excerpts:

What key trends do you see in the digital advertising space today?

The digital advertising space is highlighted by four major trends. First, there is a digital consideration for everything we do today, so marketing initiatives need to be aligned to that. Also, specific revenue outcomes are much better aligned to digital marketing initiatives. Next, we cannot undermine the importance of the mobile device. It is one of the fastest growing media channels allowing consumers to reach marketers with a flick of a thumb. This has resulted in redrawing of marketing strategies, and has caused a fundamental change in the relationship between brands and consumers. The key is to be there in those micro-moments to capture the consumer’s attention. The handheld or mobile device will continue to hold centre stage in the next few years.


The third trend is that of the social platform. The expectations on a social platform are no longer limited to “awareness” or “connect”. An increasing number of consumers want to use the platform for complete engagement (including customer service) as they spend the maximum time on these platforms. This leads to higher engagement even if there are smaller audience groups on social platforms. They may be smaller but they are certainly relevant. In the next level, the use of targeted influencers to reach specific audiences can also give rise to content collaborations. Nobody could have thought a decade ago that gaming content can have brand partnerships for reach.


Lastly, online video marketing is here to stay. It is an efficient, sustainable and cost-effective storytelling medium that is also easier to consume. It offers LIVE or streaming experience, which adds to the impact. Video views coupled with the growth of mobile phones presents a huge potential.


What must brands do differently to get noticed on digital and retain consumer attention?

Brands must focus on consumer experience. It is the only way to build loyalty and advocacy for a brand. It is an engagement to provide convenience and a unique opportunity for innovation as well.Translating value to the business is fine but there needs to be a value-add on both ends of the transaction.

Consumer experience without meaningful content is like a movie without a story but brands are based only on a consumer story, right? However, to provide value to consumers, their demands need to be met through genuine content along with the brand’s message.

Brands must also use social media to amplify genuine consumer stories or testimonials. It will reach the target audience and connect with them automatically.

From a creative perspective, where are the Indian agencies going right or wrong?

Short-term goals are making the communications “noisy”. A long-term view of the customer relationship and engagement should be considered to avoid disengagement with ads. The ecosystem in the country (not just the agencies) needs to cross this bridge.

What is your advice for brands to get their message across through the clutter?

Gone are the days of “one size fits all”. The digital age demands the communication to be personalized. Campaigns need to be designed with a specific target individual and device in mind, and advertisements need to be customized and personalized for overall messaging.

How do you plan your digital advertising campaigns? What are your expectations of your agency in this regard and what kind of ROI do you look at?

Apart from the right content, best-in-class consumer experience and personalized communication, another crucial aspect will always be data and its segmentation. While we have evolved in acquiring data, we are refining the next step that is personalized communication.Our spends are going to be higher in the first three years of business as we are in our second year of a full-fledged launch on the digital medium. Over a period of 2–3 years, we would be looking at an ROI upwards of 25%.

IDMA 2017 will be held on June 16 at Taj Santacruz in Mumbai. This year’s edition will also feature a full-day conference, TechManch.

More details about the event can be found here -


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