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The digital dilemma: What's holding back the digital from becoming a $5 billion opportunity?

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The digital dilemma: What's holding back the digital from becoming a $5 billion opportunity?

As digital transformation steps front and center as a primary source of competitive advantage, the vast majority of companies aren't yet scoring major gains from their digital efforts. Although organizations are increasing the amount of time and money they put into it, the question that ought to asked is, what is holding it back from becoming the big $5 billion opportunity, despite the numbers showing a steep percentage increase in the digital ad spends?At the Dentsu Aegis Network-exchange4media Digital Advertising Conference 2018, industry experts came together for a panel discussion on the same. 

Moderated by Prashant Peres, Director Marketing, Chocolates, Mondelez India, the panel had Sandeep Bhushan, Director India & S Asia, Facebook India, Uday Sodhi, EVP & Head, Digital Business, Sony Pictures Networks India, Taranjeet Singh, Country-Director, Twitter India and Sam Singh, Director of Agency Business, Google India. 

Peres started off with the basic question, “What’s the biggest challenge that's holding it back from becoming it a $05 billion?” Bhushan, through his calculation, set the year 2020 for the target but pointed out that the right question of the medium is not being asked. He explained, “We are not asking the right question of the medium. The question to be asked is what has television done for every dollar spent this year, last year and next year and what will digital do for every dollar spent for my brand or my sales. It's about asking the right question.”

Sodhi pointed out that the industry is at a stage where digital is going to command the largest pie. “This is what mainline advertising means for brands if they want performance. Lot of performance has moved to digital. My guess is that the real difference over the next two years is going to be the combination of brand advertising, FMCG and video. That will take the number to the next level. We are seeing that more in brand and platforms like ourselves where viewability and brand safety is taken care of because premium content is there. We are at an inflection point on digital and digital video. Digital video brand advertising falling into place will trigger that big move whether it's 2019, 2020 or 2021. That's how it’s going to happen.”

Singh emphasized on why there needs to be a total shift in marketeers. “The fundamental thing is money will follow audience. They have moved on to mobile. For us, the TV reaches 500 million people. Mobile internet users by the end of 2018 in India will be over 500 million. If you follow the growth rate we should be over 750 million in India by 2019. That's a great starting point.”

Singh, on the other hand, felt it’s not a matter of when but how fast, “It happens on two or three things: content, the realization that how big the medium is becoming (most important) and how quickly can an organisation in a smart manner make best use of it. YouTube hits 225 million monthly active users which is larger than most GECs today. We are seeing a rapid change, thanks to Jio and others.”

Peres enquired why isn't digital bigger despite being on the mainstream. He posed the question, “Why some of the big advertisers aren't convinced with all these numbers?” Bhushan pointed out the constraints, “The issue is where is the creative, the measurement and ecosystem that tells a brand manager that even if he puts money out, somebody is going to use it well. What will incentivise the system to change? How do we measure sales and brand impact?” Meanwhile, Sodhi cautioned that the whole ecosystem needs to falls into place. He added, “The advertising measurement and platform like us have to be ready to accept that load.”

They also discussed on how there isn’t a single way to measure efficacy across different video formats and comparing that with other media Peres asked, “Is there a possibility towards going for a unified measurement?” Singh is positive but believes that its essential to look at what consumers are doing at each platform. He said, "Within that, if advertising flows natively and is part of how it runs, consumers get used to a certain way of looking at content on a particular platform. It's about the evolution of the media.”

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