“We think ourselves as the world’s town square. An open public forum for conversation,” said Rishi Jaitly, India Marketing Director, speaking at a panel discussion with CVL Srinivas, CEO, GroupM South Asia at the launch of 10th edition of the Businessworld Marketing Whitebook 2014-15. The topics for discussion ‘Tweet generation and the new face of media agencies’ and ‘Consumption of media that been happening and changing over time and its impact on media planning’ began with the invention of digital platform Twitter being a public status update on SMS and quickly moved to its growing significance in the Indian media industry.
Stressing on the need for brands to personify themselves in order to reap the benefits of Twitter, Jaitly said that Indian brands were doing very well to connect with their audiences. “Brands that personify themselves and ask themselves what’s my personality, how do I speak in the first person, how do I engage in conversation about things that are not just in my commercial area, how do I talk about the election. So some good examples from this year, Tata Tea engaged in a conversation around #49. Old Spice was running a very interesting campaign around the mark on your finger after you vote. 99Acres.com was running an interesting conversation on ‘Mr. Modi is moving into a new home, why shouldn’t you?’ So what you saw was brands that understood that it was important to be topical,” he added. Brands need to be able to participate in conversations that aren’t their core area of expertise. This he said helped in connecting with consumers as it helped the brand embrace its own unique personality. It also makes the brand more relatable and building bonds with the brand.
“If you believe that craving content and communication that is more personal, more interactive, more authentic, more raw, that and more conversational, that is what Twitter offers you,” said Jaitly. Twitter was the first company in Silicon Valley to be invented on mobile phones. Mobiles being a personal form communication suited Twitter very well. He further added that audiences enjoy the opportunity to be there with the cricketers, television channels, brand and friends.
On the other hand Srinivas drew a comparison between the way media agencies function today and a few decades earlier. Bringing out the real time insights of platforms such as Twitter, he said that today it is possible to even measure ‘buzz’ that used to be a vague qualitative type of term. This enables media agencies to set objectives for brands according to the way people are conversations regarding it. Citing an example of campaign of one of his clients that used a parallel portal that picked up real time insights from customers and provided the feedback to the client instantly, he said that a lot of negative chatter regarding the commentators were picked up and could be corrected during the course of the tournament. These real time insights of digital platforms have changed the way media agencies operate today. “I remember a time when I was working media planner when we had to wait for TRPs or third party agencies to see for the results. And by the time the feedback came in it was too late to do anything about it. Today everything has changed where now my media planners first look at what are we getting from Twitter, what are we getting from Facebook and then go forward,” added Srinivas.
Rather than questioning the reach of Twitter Jaitly said that another interesting question to ask is the live reach of Twitter. “We have done studies that suggest particularly around TV programming 75 per cent of tweet views or tweet impressions occur within one hour of the tweet being published. So if you are interested in talking to an audience now within an hour, not publishing so that three days later it appears somewhere, there is no better medium than Twitter,” he said. Adding another example to this Srinivas explained in how they were able to capture the real time result benefits. It so happened that there was a lot of chatter on Virender Sehwag wearing spectacles during a test match against Australia. Eyeing the opportunity, they quickly designed a conversation on Twitter regarding it and further linked it to the Titan Eye glasses brand which was their client. It went on to become the top 20 tweets.
Mobility and media partnership
According to Jaitly there are two things in India that Twitter is targeting aggressively in order for its reach to grow to every corner of India. Partnering aggressively in the media business is the first thing that they have been doing. They have been spending a lot of time with television broadcasters to ensure that they use Twitter as a live tool, to drive tune-in, to drive action and to drive their marketing and broadcast. “We have worked with the cricket world in India, politicians in India (of course you all know the use of Twitter during this election), film production companies, everybody in the media business, even the audience business to ensure that they see Twitter as their mobile microphone,” he said.
The second thing that they have been doing is working aggressively in the mobile ecosystem. Ensuring Twitter is available wherever an Indian goes. So today in India people can give a missed call to receive a tweet via SMS. He adds, “Mr. Modi, Congress Party, MTV, Times Now, etc. all have phone numbers associated with Twitter. You can actually dial the number and hang up and you will start receiving SMS tweets. Airtel DTH has an integration where you press the green button on your remote control and you see tweets on your TV screen.”
Relationship between Twitter and traditional media
During the panel discussion, Jaitly spoke of the special relationship shared by Twitter and traditional media and called it a healthy coexistence between the two. He further added that he has heard many say the relationship between Twitter and TV is fortuities and says that it is because of the nature of the Twitter platform.
“What is television? The end of the day you can make the case that TV is in the event business. Television is live, it is public and it’s conversational. Twitter is live, it’s public and it’s conversational. So the intersection is quite extraordinary. I think it is safe to say that we are now in the second screen for TV in India, particularly in the context of English news, cricket and non-fiction entertainment. The behavior we are observing is that users are using Twitter while watching TV at a very simple level,” said Jaitly.