John Sheehy, President, Global Operations at StarCom MediaVest was in India recently to speak at the exchange4media Conclave 2014. We spoke to him later about his thoughts on the digital shift being witnessed currently. John shared his thoughts on the need for a strong content strategy and the importance of defining business KPIs rather than selecting the medium for communication first. Excerpts.
Budgets are usually limited. In such a scenario how does one optimise when facing different communication vehicles?
The first thing is you need to prioritise what your business objective is. If brand awareness is critical then TV is going to do that. If you look across to purchase, then you might want to get isolated through retail through the online environment and drive investments there, which will create awareness but also intent and, perhaps, loyalty. What we are trying to do with our clients in India is we believe that there is significant waste that is currently happening in TV. We use an optimiser tool called Fusion, which takes not only TV, but also online data and tells us how we can more effectively drive reach. If you can do that, you can certainly see 10-15 per cent savings right off the top and which we again invest back in a different vehicle against a business KPI, whether it is conversion at PoS, loyalty or brand awareness.
The second challenge is content. In addition to figuring out where your dollar is going to be invested to have to figure out what the content strategy is going to be. You have to be very smart about this because in addition to being more efficient you also need to be more effective. So you are not only making content cheaper and easier but you are also partnering with publishers and data partners.
Does one size fit all when it comes to content any longer?
I think again I would answer this by going back to what is your business strategy. What is the brand trying to achieve? Once you have figured this out, then you need to build the content strategy that will allow you to do it. We use a planning approach called Experience Planning. It starts with how we define the audience and how we design the communication roadmap through the consumer journey or path to purchase and, finally, how we deliver it. In that journey you have to figure out what is the role of each piece of content, where it is worst, how long it is going to run and then sit down and connect the dots. This is a much more effective planning process rather than just sitting down and delivering a matching luggage, which still takes place in a lot of markets.
Are overall ad spends on digital increasing or is it cannibalising from other mediums?
Overall ad spends seem to be incremental. So the dollars are going to go up and this is going to be driven by greater supply, greater demand as consumer preferences shift and change. It is going to be driven by new employers coming into the market with redesigned and innovative offerings. TV still has a primary role to play, but we are seeing social amplification around tent pole events, you can take the example of the Red Bull Stratos event with Felix Baumgartner or the Ellen DeGeneres selfie. The Super Bowl is another great example, which is why we see a lot of money moving to sports and entertainment.
Publishers tend to not open up premium inventory for programmatic platforms because they feel it’s sold easily, do you think that is a major problem when it comes to adopting programmatic advertising?
Programmatic, around markets, is a supply and demand issue. What has created the opportunity for programmatic is that in some markets the supply is so infinite that it easy to take audiences from the demand side and match them with the relevant ad and serve it. There are some issues with that in terms of what is the quality of the inventory and false reporting. What we do is that we work with the publisher to get premium inventory, make it accessible and also verify it in terms of whether we are reaching the right people.
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