Guest Column: Why hire a digital agency when you can hire hackers?: Rahul Vengalil

The Founder & Chief Executive Officer of What Clicks takes a look at some issues plaguing the current digital advertising practices

e4m by Rahul Vengalil
Published: May 3, 2018 8:54 AM  | 4 min read

Imagine a world where the cost of digital advertising would come down by over 80 per cent. All the KRAs for the year marked against the digital head are met, there is no tension of creating content or dissipating the content, the countless rallying between agencies and partners don’t exist. In other words, the utopian scenario, and no it isn’t a dream. All you have to do is fire all digital agencies, and get a group of hackers to work for you.

Yes, you read it right. The way the current eco-system has evolved over the past few years, this is the best option for all brands in the market. Brands lose out billions of dollars to ad fraud, data mining is on the rise, websites that store consumer data are vulnerable, brand trust is eroding as YouTube runs ads on brand unsafe content, social media is filled with fake news or click baits, agencies are running click farms or running behind influencers who can’t influence even the yes men. 
To understand why we are saying this, you need to just look at the way digital media KRAs are set, which invariably are as follows:

• Ensure that engagement rate on social media is y%
• The overall reach & frequency on paid media should be 50% & 10, respectively
• The YouTube videos should have a 10 million views
• There should be at least 4 trending hashtags for the year
• Each month should have x transactions, at a CPA of z
• Generate a gazillion leads on the website
• Rank higher in rating on review channels

Most of the other metrics like seamless customer experience and qualitative analysis are mere hogwash, which the key stakeholders aren’t aware of, or aren’t interested to know. The sad truth though is that digital/technology is the medium which generates more data that one can grasp and is evolving at a constant pace, but the yardstick with which it is measured is that of the traditional media, which has hardly evolved over the past few years.

If you do not have the will and the capability to analyse the data that is being generated, the business will end up losing money, time, effort and finally the will to survive. Look at the way various companies have performed over the years. Abof has shut down within 2-3 years of operation, Snapdeal is the true story of riches to rags, Jabong was on the verge of shutdown, Tinyowl went kaput, Foodpanda is trying to make a comeback, TATACliq is just there and Future Group has almost given up on digital stores. I am sure all these brands would have hired the best marketing and technology brains in the industry to run the show, which did not yield much results.

The other day, we got access to data from a leading hospital brand. This is the data that they got after having spent marketing budgets in creating, managing and advertising it. We just bought it off the shelf from one of the many vendors available. I saw a post on FB the other day “If you want views for your YT videos, 1 million views - 40k/10days, 1Lak views - 12k/1day, ping me in FB messenger now.” An apple to apple comparison tells me that this is cheaper than advertising on YT directly. Why then shouldn’t I consider this?

There is one conversation that had left me bedazzled. I had approached a business stating that their website is vulnerable to data breaches as well as fake acquisitions. The response I got was, “As a company in growth phase, the only metrics that matters, is the number of transactions that are clocked, good bad or ugly.” This was also the conversation that opened my eyes to the fact that we are chasing the wrong KPIs, which is more suited for the appraisal rather than business growth.

I have read that Amazon has stopped the PowerPoint presentation culture and is pushing all documentation in prose format. This is a cultural rethink, which I believe is the need of the hour in digital marketing. We need to go back and unlearn everything that we have learnt so far, if we need to succeed. Else, digital marketers would be doing the catch up game against hackers and fraudsters.

(The author is Founder & CEO of What Clicks)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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