Connected from New York via video conferencing, Mainardo de Nardis, CEO, OMD Worldwide, had several key points to make on digital – digital not intended as a separate, virtual environment, but digital as electricity driving and powering our entire marketing services industry, digital as our world has become digital.
de Nardis’ keynote address pepped up the afternoon’s proceedings at the exchange4media Conclave in Mumbai on June 11. The annual flagship event of the exchange4media Group, the Conclave is special this year as it marked the commencement of the Group’s 10th Anniversary celebrations. The theme for the Conclave this year was ‘Rebooting the Indian media and advertising industry’. The exchange4media Conclave 2010 was presented by Dainik Jagran. CNEB was the Associate Sponsor.
Speaking on the theme of the Conclave – ‘Rebooting the Indian Media and Advertising Industry’ – he said, ‘It presents us with a classic conundrum. And that means there is some good news and some not-as-good news. Let’s start with the good news. The good news is that you’ve got digital saturation that is outpacing the West – with users bypassing the computer to access the web via mobile devices. There are more than 500 million mobile users in India today and this population is growing by 15+ million a month. This is an astronomical number, which is by far outpacing the growth of PC users in India. This jump to mobile devices outpaces the US and the rest of the world by at least three years.
Another piece of good news: India is a hotbed for great new innovations in media and technology.”
He continued, “Now, for the not-as-good news: the industry is really struggling with an effective monetisation model. The revenues are not really where we expected them to be and a lack of infrastructure is hampering this effort.
Let me give you an example. The top four Indian portals are losing something like $32 million a year and we haven’t yet found a really credible alternative model beyond advertising revenues.”
“The issue of monetisation is not unique to India – it’s a global problem. The issue of talent, or the lack of talent, is also a global problem. But as I see it, there are two specific issues which relate to your market. The first one is lack of measurement. For example, we still don’t have a Nielsen net rating equivalent available in India.
And the second local issue, as I see it, is that perhaps very little is still being done by the government to attract the masses toward digital. And this is something that really has to change, especially now that the more that digital is becoming such a key and large component of the whole economy,” he pointed out.
The Digital Inflection Point
de Nardis then introduced Shelley Paxton, Digital Strategy Officer, OMD Worldwide , who made a presentation on ‘The Digital Inflection Point’.
Starting off, Paxton said, “There’s really no better time for us to be having this conversation than right now because we’re at a point that we’re calling the digital inflection point. We’re inspired by Andy Grove, the co-founder of Intel. In his book, “Only the Paranoid Survive”, he wrote about the strategic inflection point. That’s the point at which any business must fundamentally change or risk becoming obsolete. With the rapid development of digital platforms and consumer behaviors, marketers are finding themselves in the same situation today. We’re at the digital inflection point. We need to fundamentally embrace this in all aspects of consumer engagement from marketing and insight all the way through to the retail and product experiences that we create or we risk losing relevance and, ultimately, market share.”
She then spoke about the four powerful forces shaping the future today:
The first is the economy or the impact of the economic downturn.
The second is access and the changing face of access.
The third is mobility, and the untethered world we live in today.
And the fourth is social, which in essence, is becoming the behavioral overlay of the web going forward.
She further said that there were four key trends that were defining the future of consumer engagement – fluid, focused, fast and forecastable.
According to Paxton, “Organisations need to transition their mindsets to think about digital as an enabler to achieve broader business objectives, not just as a media channel. In tandem with that, each company must have a vision that asks, what are we trying to solve? And how can digital help? Digital is an enabler, a connector, a facilitator and an accelerator of achieving overall business goals. We need to apply the consumer lens. All consumer facing activities need to recognise that the ecosystem is seamless, borderless and crosses all platforms as seen by the consumer. So in essence, all strategies, initiatives and messaging need to be in sink for marketing, to communications to recruiting to retail.”
Summing up the presentation, de Nardis said, “We have indeed hit an inflection point, one that demands change: a change in how we think about digital and a change in how we operate and innovate and certainly one that demands that we embrace it. Put simply: Get ahead of change – or get run over by it.”
He concluded by saying, “At OMD, we’re working to get ahead of this change. We take insights and ideas to create actionable strategies to ensure our clients not only remain relevant, but grow in market share and profitability.”