Is digital a better advertising launch pad?

Cost effective, two-way dialogue, wider reach – the benefits of launching a campaign first on digital are many. Few smart companies have realised this

e4m by Twishy
Updated: Nov 7, 2012 7:11 PM
Is digital a better advertising launch pad?

Is digital a better bet in quest of the next growth idea? Is digital witnessing an all-time peak in terms of innovation and marketing spends? Is the medium a preferred choice for brands to launch a campaign?
It is often said that “Choice of a right direction leads to a romantic ending”. The key for the right choice is to ensure that the brands successfully monetise the demand for this medium.

Trend has changed and marketers are looking at the digital medium actively to launch brand campaigns. “Campaigns launched on digital are helpful in the sense that they give the brand instant feedback and an opportunity to tweak things prior to heavier investments on other advertising channels,” said Zafar Rais, Founder and CEO, Mindshift Interactive. He pointed out that digital is buzzing and people do look up to brands that dare to be adventurous in creating a mind-shift and going against the regular route of marketing.

Be it Coke’s digital expedition with Imran Khan, Marico’s attempt to steal the show with Set Wet, Italian brand Vespa’s launch in India or Flipkart’s idea to tap the user-base, these brands have used the digital platform to launch their commercials to get instant insights on consumer sentiments and act more effectively by targeting the right audiences. Being a relatively new platform, it gives a scope to experiment with a substantial reach. More than mere reach, the medium’s nature of two-way communication presents a great opportunity to enter into a dialogue with consumers, instead of a one-way broadcast.

Piyush Rathi, National Sales Head, Tyroo Media said, “The choice depends on audience segment, demography and geographies that a brand is targeting. If the target group stays in urban areas and can buy a premium product, then it makes sense to launch not just one but three-four variants of the TVC on digital. One gets the advantage of sampling the communication, get references that are real-time from the audience, avoid the media wastage that happens in a medium such as TV or print by controlling the media spends not only on the economics side but also the engagement side.” However, marketers have to be careful about capturing the audience mood while talking one-on-one and come up with the best communication mix, he further added.

E-commerce player Flipkart first launched its campaign on social media and through an email sent out to fans, who got a chance to sneak-peek into the commercial even before it went live on TV. In terms of actual impact, the campaign reached about 21 per cent of the fan base on Facebook in terms of direct interaction with the campaign, either through likes, shares, comments or views. On Twitter, the tweet premiering the TVC generated more than a one lakh in impressions, with the follower base only being 30,000 plus.

“We even deliberated on the subject line of the email. If we had it as the campaign theme/tagline, it may not have generated enough email-opens; so we used a direct call-to-action to make the recipients feel special and this helped us further in ensuring that people notice the email and our campaign, shared Ravi Vora, Senior VP – Marketing, Flipkart.

The real-time feedback received from viewers was then taken into account for further planning. “We tweaked the media plan on the basis of the weightage given to our ads by the viewers. Out of nine creatives that are a part of the campaign, three were allocated greater media spends since they generated a positive response, added Vora. He stated that since consumers are still not used to seeing a launch or campaign on digital media first, the idea has a freshness that appeals to people and helps generate awareness.

Experts feel that mass medium such as print and TV are still the most effective and sought-after ways for a brand to advertise, given the reach and efficacy. However, it is also imperative that brands constantly try to re-invent marketing strategies keeping in mind the growing penetration of internet, broadband and smartphones.

Unny Radhakrishnan, Head of Digital – South Asia, Maxus said, “People are consuming video on web, mobile and tablets. Today with platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, it is possible to reach a good amount of targeted audience. Marketers are already using online video platforms to promote TVCs and some are experimenting with launching TVCs online.”

He added, “The TVCs can be taken online in a conventional way i.e. paid promotion to the targeted audience; but, if the content of the commercial is interesting and worth sharing, it will spread even without spending too much money. It is a trend of moving from ‘airing’ to ‘sharing’.”

Fastrack, being a youth brand, earmarks maximum amount of spends on the digital medium. The main objective is to get as much word-of-mouth as possible with naughty and provocative ads and become a brand that people love to share. For the ‘Don’t stare at my Tees’ campaign, the brand took the lead on digital and did not spend any money on any other media except for hoardings to drive interest on the digital medium.

Simeran Bhasin, Marketing Head, Fastrack and New Brands, Titan Industries said, “When the youth are spending a large amount of time on digital than any other medium, it is natural for a youth brand to launch its campaign on this medium. It reaches the youth much faster unlike TV and since it’s a two-way medium, it gives a high-level of involvement which TV doesn’t. It gives a competitive edge because if the consumer likes your campaign, they will share the campaign but this doesn’t happen in TV or print where much fewer people talk about the campaign.”

The Italian brand Vespa opted for a brave choice of a digital campaign to launch in India followed up with print and out of home and below-the-line initiatives. In order to drive engagement and break the clutter, Vespa did an interactive contest ‘Once Upon A Vespa.’ Krishna MV, Associate VP Marketing, Piaggio shared, “People constantly seeking ‘what’s new’ are always on the search on the net. These people are the buzz creators and they start conversations on what’s happening. ‘To know before it happens on TV’ is a big thing to them. These are also the first people to try out new things and to reach this audience prior to breaking campaigns on TV is a good idea. To create more involvement, it is useful to run a contest or ‘making of the campaign’ sort of a thing in the digital space. The next thing that digital-savvy consumers do is tweet, post on Facebook (good and bad things) and this starts the whole buzz process. It’s as if you have set things up for the campaign to work better when it’s on TV.”

“But for this to happen, there is a pre-condition that the campaign is for a brand eagerly awaited / a really different campaign / features some new celebrity and brings in a new thought. You are reaching to the ‘buzz hungry’ and the campaign has to ‘feed them’ and launching just-another-ad in TV or digital does not really make a difference,” he said.

Experts can argue that there are blurring boundaries between traditional and digital medium but one cannot ignore that advertisers still create a storyboard for a larger set of audience and communication is designed for the large format screens. There is a need to create a communication mix with the right media strategies to be able to address the set of people going online.

As Rais rightly remarked, “With the digitisation movement that television is currently undergoing, they (marketers) aren’t going to get TAM numbers for a while. I see this as an opportunity for them to turn to social media metrics that offer not just the outreach but also an instant view of how consumers feel towards a campaign. Is there any other platform that could promise you that?”

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