Amend the definition of ROI on digital, concur experts

Amend the definition of ROI on digital, concur experts

Author | Sonam Gulati | Tuesday, Apr 22,2014 8:12 AM

Amend the definition of ROI on digital, concur experts

Despite getting the least share of the total marketing budget, digital gives the widest reach and real-time analytics. Digital media empowers specific targeting of audience and also gives flexibility to change the approach based on response of the target audience.Experts talk about where marketers are going wrong with their expectations and how digital is helping the ecosystem grow.

Although, the direct impact that digital medium can have on actual sales is a grey area, it doesn’t raise any questions on the effectiveness of the medium.According to Samar Verma, CEO & Co-Founder, Fork Media,marketers need to change their view on how digital should be measured. “In my view, digital will never be able to part ways with its strongest ally which is measurability.  Where we need to get with advertisers and brands is that measurability is not only clicks and leads. There is life beyond that,” he said.

Measurability of digital has been both a boon and a bane. Since everything can be measured like page views, clicks, time spent, it leads to people believing that the cumulative impact can also be measured. The truth is digital now plays aprominent role in the whole cycle of purchase from intent to the actual transaction.

Rajdeep Chatterjee, Digital Marketing Manager, Nokia stated that many of their own independent researches have also shown that digital media has a huge impact on the decision of the consumer. “In digital you can measure almost everything and you start believing that actually everything can be measured.  Impact is there, but you can’t isolate it,” he added.

What to seek from digital media

While many new age marketers do understand that digital is the perfect medium for driving engagement levels and increasing brand awareness, some old world marketers can’t resist asking how much it drives up the sales, how it helps the bottom line, etc.

“Unfortunately most marketers start digital with the view to drive performance. They then evolve to understand that digital can be a great tool to drive engagement and conversations,” Verma said.

According to Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WATConsult, the expectation of marketers are unrealistic. “Marketers expect digital to deliver quantifiable results be it for brand or business. Problem is they end up measuring the wrong metrics or deriving the wrong insights from the metrics. The digital space is so young that each one is creating their own way of evaluating it. Given the number of metrics available you see a cost per engagement, cost per lead and cost per transaction and who knows cost per what metrics in the future. Sometimes too many metrics only add confusion and don't solve it,” he said.

He substantiated his view by saying that it's best to keep it layered, yet simple. He said the questions marketers should ask are -Did I reach the right audience? Did they react positively? Did they engage proactively? Did I see intent to buy? Did I manage to sell online or get online queries? And even with these, the objective should be to do one of the above. At best a digital campaign can do justice to one or two of the above questions and not all in the same way,” he added.

Chatterjee stated that a marketer needs to redefine the ROI. “Each brand will have its own parameters with which they will define their returns. For us, the engagement the consumer has with the brand is important and we achieve that on digital quite well,” he said.

Expectation versus reality

“When it comes to branding the lack of metrics means brand managers feel digital has no brand ROI and when it comes to business, marketers feel that digital by virtue of being measurable can deliver the moon in sales or leads,” said Dingra. It has time and again been pointed that expecting direct effect on numbers from digital alone is not the right approach. Just because marketers and brands are opening up to this new avenue and they feel that it has all the metrics required they shouldn’t expect real-time returns.

Another interesting fact to consider is that brands are spending the least on the medium but expecting the fastest and the highest returns. The spends are way less than they are on TV or print, in fact many brands are not spending even in double digits on the medium. “It is important to understand that digital alone especially when its only 10 per cent of the overall spends, cannot completely drive customer perception and brand affinity. There are a lot of external factors like historical experiences with the brand/product/service, word of mouth, overall communication, etc. You cannot overlook all of these factors and expect digital to drive great numbers for you. After all it is a part of the overall ecosystem today and not yet the ecosystem,” Verma pointed out.

Give credit where its due

All said and done, digital does need to be given credit for arriving late but catching up extremely fast. This is one of the reasons that the expectations are high. It is the most affordable and the most measurable medium. One can do trial and error on it and it also gives flexibility to reach out to different segments with multiple campaigns.

Rather than expecting immediate effect on sales or numbers digital should be given credit for the way it helps in brand building. There is no brand that can afford to not be on digital.

The digital agencies agree unanimously that digital should not be considered a cheap tool for quick and easy returns. Verma quipped that the burden of expectations from digital is really a problem as of now.

“It is unfortunate that whenever we talk of digital, we completely overlook the brand story on the medium. Digital is increasingly being used to build brands, have conversations, build longer term engagement and of course it does enable businesses to drive acquisitions and leads as well,” he added.

Dingra on the other hand pointed out that the ones who will invest in the medium for a longer term will see desirable results as digital is here to stay and rule as well.

Digital marketing and media have witnessed some clutter breaking creativity and innovation in the recent times. To celebrate and reward outstanding work being done in the ever-growing advertising and marketing communication activity in the digital media space, exchange4media’s Indian Digital Media Awards 2014 will be held on 6th June, 2014. Five main categories are Web, Mobile, Social Media, Languages and Hall of Fame Awards. There are 40 sub-categories. For more information, click below:

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