The digital revolution that never happened: Abhik Choudhury

To be really meaningful, digital campaigns need to be centred around strategically cracked creative ideas that are fundamentally social, says the Business Strategist, Brandlogist

e4m by Abhik Choudhury
Updated: Jun 14, 2013 2:38 PM
The digital revolution that never happened: Abhik Choudhury

This year internet turned 40 and the World Wide Web went well past its teens, turning 22. It’s time we stopped being awed by our global digital counterparts and took a long, hard look at what have we actually done and are doing with the blessings of the digital advancements.

Introspection will tell us how we are trying to catch up with the last season’s (read half a decade’s gap) technologies, strategies and campaigns. We still use it as an unimportant checklist that needs to be done; it’s the ‘in’ thing. “Oh! We are now on Facebook!” “Oh! That tone of our last tweet brought a radical change to our brand”. Give it a few more years and it might be replaced by another ‘in’ thing and we would then be trying to sort that till it is too... long gone!

But dear marketers, there is still time; let’s truly light this digital revolution. Start flirting with the new technology frivolously, look at the world broadly and tell yourself it’s time you set the benchmark for them.

Here are the four ways we can do this:
1. Stop being fickle minded:
It’s like loving your son more (read mainline advertising) and giving him all the requisites (read budgets) even without being asked or even contemplating on questions like true ROI, and one never forgets to ask for quantifiable justification from a daughter (read online marketing) on every penny spend. You are pushing something just because it has been happening from ages. If it is for namesake, don’t send her to school (read open social platform accounts) if you have no intention to let her work one day (read doing interesting campaigns, extensive ORM, etc).

But yes, I know it will take facts and figures to make believe. Did you know that according to a survey conducted by IPSOS, 71 per cent of India’s population follows brands online, and chances are your brand is also being followed? Among those under 35, though, the number of eyes on your brand could be significantly higher, with 82 per cent claiming they follow brands online. And, even among those 50 and older, 48 per cent are checking out brands online.

According to Neilson, Indians also want brands to communicate with them using social media. 60 per cent Indians who are social media users are open to being approached by brands, indicating that social media has the ability to change the dynamics between brands and consumers, who are typically time-starved and may consider traditional forms of advertising obtrusive and undesirable.

2. Copy the global mindset, not the campaigns: Those who say we live in ‘Bharat’ and digital has still not spread for a pan India campaign would be surprised to know that recently Indian farmers have started using Facebook to get the right price for their crops. I am not saying that digital is the new marketing monopoly. It’s not about digital versus other mediums, but digital working together to bring consumer engagement and giving the brand image more depth than before. Copying one cool digital campaign won’t change a thing. It’s like gyming for a day and expecting six packs (read genuinely loved and organically spread online community). According to Indian e-Retail report, our online advertising market is about 7 per cent of the overall advertising pie, less than half of the global average of 15.5 per cent.

The key is having well-knitted 360 campaigns, with strategic use of digital at all levels – from product designing to final marketing.

3. Believe in your intuition and your agency: They take you where your concocted illusionary figures cannot. Yes, you want a viral video, but does your brand need one? Prioritise. Do you know how many videos are made every year, out of which how many actually go viral? The difference very well can only be measured in light years. So, if you are not already a ‘very’ (read Apple and Coke) famous brand, why would you want to spend Rs 20-odd lakh for those videos when you can build a faithful fan community in Facebook with the same money? The best part, after a year when people would have long forgotten your viral and gapping about the ‘new’ one, your strong loyal community will be still with you.

Passing the miniscule of budgets just to make the higher authorities happy that you are doing ‘something’ in the digital space won’t help at all. Even according to Apple Insider’s study this month, “TV advertising has had minimal impact primarily because of misattribution”. Don’t handicap your agency, trust them for once. Give your agency the budget they need to make your brand stand out and they will make you proud. Don’t let lack of faith take away from your brand what it deserves, especially in these times of path breaking marketing advancements.

4. Understand the digital ROI before jumping to conclusions based on prejudices: Brand marketers can now optimise their campaigns in real time, based on the insights generated from the performance of their current and past campaigns. They can also optimise the marketing mix and media spend across channels. But then, is every investment quantifiable – brand love, trust and connect to name a few?

Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted (friends and family being the first) source of brand information, with a 70 per cent trust rating. Television ads were trusted by only 47 per cent (Nielsen, April 2012). The myth that more number of likes will generate more brand awareness and engagement has to be broken. Do you know how cheaply your Facebook likes can be bought without any media targeting from at least a thousand random websites around the world? How cheap YouTube views are and how easy buying Twitter following in 24 hours have become? Google these keywords and you will know.

Most of the digital work done in India is quite superficial and is focused around setting up of Facebook and Twitter pages, getting one app live or creating a buzz, usually through contests and random give-aways (these days better known as Facebook offers). To be really meaningful, digital campaigns need to be centred around strategically cracked creative ideas that are well balanced and fundamentally social, shareable and inviting interaction. These ideas need to come from deep consumer insights and then implemented through immaculate execution.

Food for thought – ever wondered why we never thought/ debated about TV giving us ROI in leads and conversions rather than the traditional ‘awareness’? Because under any permutation they just can’t, it’s beyond its capacity.

Your customers are now lavishing love, attention and trust on brands that are ‘there’ for them when they need them and are available for light conversations not just looking for solutions of long ‘consumer complains’.

What we are seeing in India is very basic digital work. It’s time to revaluate. As Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

We need to go beyond brand awareness and embrace brand experiences. We need to think beyond traditional advertising and PR and invest in creating long term brand assets via loyal communities of our new empowered consumer.

The mammoth brands of the next decade will rise and sustain from the digital space. Other brands will fall behind and find it harder and harder to attract new clients with conservative marketing in contemporary warfare.

Which brand will you be... the choice is all yours.

Abhik Choudhury is Business Strategist at Brandlogist

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