The one-day seminar on ‘Digital Marketing: Wake up and smell the coffee’ organised by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) brought to the fore a significant fact that Internet penetration is still very low in the country, and that Internet advertising continues to be a very miniscule part of communication plans.
The first session of the seminar, ‘Digital marketing has arrived: Are you ready for coffee?’ was moderated by R Sundar, President, Times Business Solutions. The panellists in this session included Sam Balsara, Chairman and MD, Madison; Raj Nayak, CEO, NDTV Media; Dinesh Wadhawan, MD and CEO, Times Internet Ltd; Debraj Tripathy, Strategic Business Unit Head-Mobile Marketing, OnMobile; Gurtej Sandhu, Senior VP-Digital, Star TV; and Vivek Kumar, Head-Consumer Marketing and New Initatives, Sify Ltd.
According to Balsara, the growth of the digital medium for advertising has been very slow. “While the entire advertising industry grew by 50 per cent last year, digital accounted for a mere 1.5 per cent of the traditional media market. Internet is not making an impact on large advertisers, but is making its presence felt among small conventional advertisers. The opportunity in traditional media across the world is worth $400 billion. If media is to grow this rapidly, we should establish brand-building properties in Internet. We have to take the Internet to the next stage and convince people that the medium is as good as TV and print. The basic point is: who controls ad budget? This Rs 17,000 crore Indian media market is jointly controlled by advertising and media agencies. If we have to operate in this market, we have to integrate digital into a media agency. However, clients find it very difficult to operate in every medium. I suggest the IAMAI should envisage exploring this medium.”
NDTV Media’s Nayak said, “We like to preach about the Internet, without actually going out and selling on the medium. What is surprising is that we get a Rs 2-lakh order for the Internet and that makes us happy! This mindset has to change. We have to change the way Internet is sold in our country. We should not sell below a certain CPM rate. Only then will the Internet grow from $100 million to $150 million in a year. The IAMAI should bring this industry to raise the bar. Big companies like NDTV and Microsoft are able to extract money from advertisers. But advertisers don’t pay smaller digital companies. If we won’t wake up and smell the coffee, then we will miss the boat.”
OnMobile’s Tripathi opined that those who actually spend have to really understand how does this medium works. “As a brand, the industry hasn’t invested enough in the Internet. We were selling at a under cutting price. It is impossible to sell at 10 CPM.”
According to Times Internet’s Wadhawan, the most important point is that the Internet is the only medium that is interactive. “We can rate an online campaign whether it is good or rubbish. This medium allows one to acquire customers, sell more and manage existing customers. The access points of VSNL or MTNL should be made in all areas. This medium offers great branding opportunities. However, only bad display ads are visible on the Internet. We should believe in the medium since it offers the biggest opportunity for advertisers, publishers and media to work together.”
Star TV’s Sandhu was of the opinion that there is an opportunity to create fantastic brands and content companies, an immature market has led to fragmented distribution. On the other hand, Sify’s Kumar elaborated how online branding opportunities is not limited; he gave the example of the campaign for ‘Indian Idol’ which has done very well on the Internet.
The second session of the seminar, ‘Creativity: Does it have to only be drunk from a cup?’ was moderated by Adrian Moss, Group CEO, Deal Group Media PLC. Panellists putting forth their views included Chaya Brian Carvalho, MD and CEO, BC Web Wise; Rahul Nanda, COO, Webchutney; Rajagopal Menon, COO, Contests2win; Bhavna Giani, Associate Creative Director, Mediaturf Worldwide; and Subhomoy Sengupta, Creative Director, Interactive Avenues.
According to Moss, “I think digital advertising in India hasn’t penetrated much. We spend long days wondering about the lack of creativity in this medium. We have to push ourselves to get much more out of Internet.”
“As a creative agency we are doing our bit. There is infinite space for creativity. Consumers can express themselves freely in this space. There is a new breed of people delivering in this medium. The basic point is that the backbone of Internet is penetration. This digital medium will see an exponential growth,” said an optimistic Carvalho.
Webchutney’s Nanda was of the view that not enough creativity is visible in the digital medium in India. The ad spends of the digital medium accounts for a mere two per cent of the total ad spends. “Advertisers just want to go to sites like MSN and Yahoo! Where is the innovation taking place? A free hand is not being given to agencies. We are stifling creativity,” he said.
Mediaturf’s Giani commented that digital agencies need to invest in research. “We need to hire the right professionals to sell ideas. We need to aggressively promote online advertising, as also attract talent.”
Menon from Contests2win explained that when consumers want the content, one has to deliver the same. It’s not just about ideas, but how they are executed, and how content is created in this medium.
Interactive Avenues’ Sengupta concluded the session with his view, “We should always put ourselves in consumers’ shoes. We should do exactly what the consumer wants.”