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Unny Radhakrishnan

Head of Digital - South Asia | 03 Oct 2012

Metrics for TV has been built over the years. The industry also saw the evolution of OTS (Opportunity to See) metrics. However, there is no such metrics for digital as yet. According to me, with billions and billions of impressions, OTS is becoming infinite. On the other hand, benchmarks with respect to visibility have not happened in digital yet. Thus, metrics is more challenging in digital probably because so many things are changing.

Unny Radhakrishnan has been part of Maxus from 2007 and currently is the Head of Digital - South Asia. With more than 18 years of experience in the industry, Radhakrishnan has headed various verticals such as Online Marketing Solution, Business Director for Digital and National Director for Digital. Prior to joining GroupM, he had a three-year stint with BridgeOverTW/ Xerago as Head - Online Marketing Solutions.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Noor Warsia and Saloni Surti Radhakrishnan speaks about clients’ approach towards digital, how Maxus integrates digital with client servicing, metrics for measuring the performance of digital in a campaign and what are the right elements to create a good digital campaign.

Q. How, in your role, do you ensure that you have digital at the core of your offer while still working from a standalone kind of a set-up?

In 2001-02, GroupM started investing in digital and thus, before even Google opened office in India, we were actually doing search campaigns for our clients. It was in 2007 when GroupM decided to have a separate, full-fledged mobile team and invest time and energy to build that practice. We started clubbing this team with the traditional team for better functioning. Back then digital was growing by leaps and bounds, customers were asking for digital solutions. At this point of time, we realised that for a campaign execution we need to know digital in and out first.

We embedded the digital team closely with the traditional units and would have brain storming sessions where even non-digital people came up with digital ideas. From a trending perspective and building capability we have digital at the center. A lot of people from our agency are Google certified; in fact, a lot of non-digital people too are Google certified. Therefore, a lot of people in Maxus understand digital, there are a few who go deeper to meet the demands of the technical nuances and other stuff. At Maxus, it is about balancing between carrying the whole organisation to think digital and a few people who specialise in digital.

Q. While going for client pitches is digital given a special space?

If required, our digital team accompanies the presenting team and even if they are not the traditional team, is fully capable of handling the digital content. From a business perspective digital guys are no different. These days, all client presentations are integrated – that have radio, television, outdoor, digital. Thus, the traditional teams are trained to give any kind of solution that the client requires.

Q. In Maxus, what is the policy of working with digital only kind of companies?

We don’t work with any agencies, but with technological partners. As far as digital is concerned, we have an in-house digital creative team, with members who have proper creative background. In terms of mobile, we now have a separate mobile team, too, which we are embedding with the traditional teams to give the clients more solutions. The mobile team is incubated, however we need to have people with special expertise for managing the console and the machine interface. At strategy level, like digital, every member of Maxus is involved in mobile, but execution of mobile strategies is handled by a special team.

When it comes to search campaigns, they require a combination of analytics and copy writing. Some agencies have a separate copy writing team, but we have our customers at priority and we integrate both at the management level.

Q. Do you go for only digital kind of businesses?

Yes, we do go for digital only kind of businesses. We have a few digital only clients such as Tata Motors and Future Group. We are also planning to start services for dotcoms in the near future. A few clients from Delhi have hired us for only digital creative services.

Q. Do you think clients in India are still not clear about what they want to achieve through digital?

There are mixed clients, some of them are clear on what they want and they are already planning accordingly. For instance, mature clients like Nokia. While there are many clients who still typically send a digital brief and then we think and go back to them with ideas. Very rarely do you get a client who has a specific digital brief.

Q. Is there a trend such as only a particular kind of customer understands digital briefs?

There is no trend as such, but there are a few consumers who have a better idea about digital than others. Look at dotcoms, for obvious reasons they know what digital is and have a clearer view than others. Banking and finance industries have been on digital for a very long time now, in fact, most of the seniors in the industry got their initial learning about digital through banking and finance. It is all about Lead generation, customer acquisition and stuff like that.

Q. What would be the best way to find out how much is digital helping your campaign? Would you suggest any definite metrics and what is your take on the importance given to clicks?

To measure the performance of digital in a particular campaign, it is essential to specify what role digital is playing in that campaign and then measure. For a particular brand or a marketer, if direct marketing is the objective and it is being met, then let there be a metrics according to that.

Metrics for TV has been built over the years. The industry also saw the evolution of OTS (Opportunity to See) metrics. However, there is no such metrics for digital as yet. According to me, with billions and billions of impressions, OTS is becoming infinite. On the other hand, benchmarks with respect to visibility have not happened in digital yet. Thus, a metrics is more challenging in digital probably because so many things are changing.

Of late there have been a lot of conversations that people have killed digital by placing too much value on clicks, but I don’t think it is a right kind of approach. First, because it is a revolutionary thing – it had to happen. Secondly, when certain objectives have to be met, then you might as well work towards it. The problem is that since there is no other way to measure, and clicks and leads are easily understood, people refer to them more.

My personal take is that there have to be some unique and robust measurement systems for digital and I feel that cannot be brought about by adapting to the exact TV machinery used now.

Q. There have been debates on how friendly digital is to marketing. Do you think marketers’ approach towards digital is apt?

While there are debates about how digital is changing the way marketing is done, there is no mention about how it is changing consumers’ lives. Digital is an ecosystem – it surrounds you all the time. How marketers use that should be the point of discussion. Media versus ecosystem is leading to the importance of content communication. Creating content is important, but there is no magic formula. The point of concern is that are enough marketers paying attention to the changing ecosystem where consumers’ habits are changing too.

Growth is happening, and it will continue, as a practitioner it is important to keep your eyes and ears open to know what is happening at the ground level and then work out on solutions accordingly.

Q. What according to you are the elements for a digital idea that clicks instantly with viewers?

I don’t think there is a magic formula. You should think from your heart whether an idea will have a consumer connect. The key is getting the technology right and executing the digital campaign it in that manner. In a digital campaign there is a lot of dependency on technology.

We have started a new technology team that is based in Singapore, headed by Maxus Digital Asia Pacific. They don’t get involved in regular digital work but the look at the brief and then see whether the campaign has the potential to do well. Technically sound innovation can really contribute to creating a good digital campaign.

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