In the last three years, the brand marketer has been sold the digital promise a million times – the rising numbers of Internet users in India, the social media revolution, the mobile explosion, the omnipresence of ‘search’, the video phenomenon and so on. However, marketing spends are still not coming the digital way – at least not to the extent the digital fraternity would like it to. How can digital space get a higher share of the marketer’s wallet? There are seven key challenges that need to be addressed for brand marketers to travel on the digital marketing expressway.
The marketer is seeing features, not benefits: Stories around digital need to change from media glorification to brand and business solutions. There aren’t enough Indian stories about brand successes on the Internet. But there is no holistic brand success story. Digital supply partners need to work on providing a solution to a problem faced by a brand rather than merely trying to sell the features of the medium.
There is too much complexity: For an average marketer, it is very complex to deal with multiple media partners. More so, when each one of them sees only their part of the story. So, if you are planning a digital foray or strategy, you will need to meet SEO specialists, SEM specialists, publishers, media buyers, web analytic experts, creative agencies, social media consultants, user interface designers, measurement agencies and many more. In the normal brand management role, the brand manager is not accustomed to meeting so many people to solve a brand problem. So, not only is there a struggle to understand the various facets of the new medium, but one also has to deal with multiple entities. To compound the problem, none of these entities understand the problem in a holistic manner. Of course, some large agencies have started offering all-in-one solutions, but most of them are struggling for talent.
Human Capital, the demand supply mismatch: The digital medium has grown exponentially and is changing even faster. The talent pool has not been able to keep pace with the dynamism of the medium. To launch a digital campaign, you need a combination of skills; brand planning, creative appreciation and deep understanding of technology. This unique and seemingly impossible combination is currently not available in India. As a result, most digital campaigns are thought out in a piecemeal manner. The need of the hour is to invest in developing human capital.
Differentiated measurement metrics: There is little appreciation of the difference between campaigns that attract consumers versus campaigns that acquire them. The latter is very targeted, measurable and scientific with search playing a big role. Using the same yardstick to evaluate campaigns that attract and engage the consumers tends to confuse everyone. Actually, the whole digital media has been sold wrongly on the parameters of measurement only. Of course, there are parts that can be completely measured. But there are parts that may not need a direct measurement. Having a measurement mindset may take you in a wrong direction if you are in the zone of consumer attraction and engagement.
Absence of rich content developers: Most of the great content that we come across on the Internet has been developed in the overseas market. For a marketer, it is a task to find partners who can make best-in-class content given the time and budget. Even service providers seem to be struggling in trying to find and retain good quality talent. While marketing the medium, most partners showcase case studies of non-Indian brands. This builds up unrealistic expectations, which is very difficult to deliver.
The absence of universally accepted measurements: Unlike TV, Press, etc., the digital medium has no universally accepted set of measurement criteria. Whether it is the Internet usage numbers or site visit numbers, you have different estimates floating. This problem is more in the area of brand measurement. There is no clear framework for measuring the impact of communication on brand parameters. This creates confusion.
The marketer’s old media mindset. Most of the digital medium’s characteristics cannot be compared to traditional media. Despite being at a nascent stage, the digital platform has the potential to attract Indian brands and become an integral part of the overall brand communication strategy. As Rupert Murdoch said, “To find something comparable, you have to go back 500 years to the printing press, the birth of mass media – which, incidentally, is what really destroyed the old world of kings and aristocracies. Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, and the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control.”
(Manish Dubey is SVP & Head, Marketing, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Ltd.)