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Best of times, worst of times: Agency leaders react to Elon Musk taking over Twitter

Musk has said that Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world

e4m by Shantanu David
Published: Oct 29, 2022 9:28 AM  | 6 min read
twitter

While the dust around Elon Musk’s final explosive Twitter takeover is finally settling down, things still aren’t exactly clear on the ground. The high- profile exit of Parag Agrawal and two other top executives has been followed by media reports that Musk himself will be serving as CEO for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps more pertinently to both users of and advertisers on the platform, Musk subsequently announced, “Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.” In characteristic fashion, this was followed by a later tweet, in which he underlined there have been no changes in content moderation as of yet.

Musk as a self-described “free speech absolutist” has often excoriated Twitter’s moderation policy as well as its suspending of accounts for harmful speech and content, such as the permanent suspension of former US president Donald Trump’s account, which is expected to be soon restored, along with all other permanently suspended accounts.

This has naturally made advertisers anxious. Rapper Kanye West, for instance, was dropped by all his sponsors and partners following his anti-Semitic tweets. Musk, for his part, went out of his way, via Tweet, to reassure advertisers, even as the final takeover was happening on Thursday night in San Francisco, that he aimed to make “Twitter the most respected advertising platform in the world.”

 

Ad Senses

In the words of the man himself, “Something that I also very much believe is that when done right, advertising can delight, entertain and inform you. Low relevancy ads are spam, but highly relevant ads are content!”

This has allayed doubts in no small way.

Vivek Kumar Anand, Director – Business & Innovation, DViO Digital, says that Musk’s statement about the importance of relevance in the ads gives the entire chatter around twitter and his acquisition a very positive tangent.

“After all, advertisers need two things: quality and efficiency. In the crowded space of platforms built to deliver ads on transactional objectives such as clicks and visits, a platform that prioritizes delivering relevance to the consumer would be not only friendly but also one of the essential components in our media mix,” says Anand,

He adds, “Every advertiser afloat on the channel sea is searching for one thing – ROI, and I genuinely believe that ROI can be achieved only through relevance. Aligned and look forward.”

Bitesh Singh, Founder & CEO, SocioClout, believes that under Musk’s leadership; we may see Twitter becoming a platform where people can freely choose the kind of content that they want to consume.

“It is essential for Twitter to show ads that are relevant to the audience’s needs. In his words, ‘low relevancy ads are spam, but highly relevant ads are content!’. That’s a good starting point. You know you are doing marketing right when ads/sponsored posts become desirable content for the audience,” he says.

But just how big is that audience?

 

Big Picture

One of the most heated areas of the debates and back and forth that characterized the Musk Twitter deal debacle, have been the former’s assertion that the latter’s user base consisted of 20% bots. Former CEO Agarwal and his team insisted that in fact, out of Twitter’s 230 million globally, only 5% were bots. That figure is still to be officially determined.

There’s also another thing.

“As per The Economist, out of $400 billion odd digital revenue, $300 billion belongs to Google and Meta. Then there is Amazon, Microsoft and a new rising star Tik Tok followed by Apple and Snapchat. Twitter’s share, as per Statista is just $6 billion. Let that sink in,” quips Neeraj Sharma, Senior Vice President, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi.

“So the question really is “most respected” also should be a viable option for reach and frequency.  Musk’s ability to drive growth and pioneering products was never under question but Twitter is just one additional social media platform right now with its own benefits and pitfalls,” he adds.

Keerthi Kumar, Business Head - South, FoxyMoron, says that Musk's thought of making it one of the best platforms to advertise on makes it an important aspect to look forward to with a majority chunk of their revenue globally coming from advertising.

“As a platform, Twitter has evolved by trying to improve the quality of content with innovations like super follow for creators to reward them for doing better content. Another challenge is the sheer volume of bots and fake accounts and Musk's attention to that and coming down hard on bots would elevate the platform and could make it better for users,” says Kumar.

Siddharth Devnani, Co-Founder & Director, SoCheers, also points out Musk is known to be a little unpredictable, saying, “Even the process of buying Twitter was full of twists and turns. Brands might see this as a more risk-prone leadership as compared to its predecessors. While Parag Agarwal and team were experienced old-timers in the organisation, Musk doesn’t have hands-on experience of heading a social media platform with a global user base. But to his credit, he is a successful serial entrepreneur.”

 

Future Proof?

“I am optimistic about Twitter’s future, but it will require massive changes both internally and externally. This will have an impact on advertising. Elon has already expressed his distaste for conventional advertising, so I hope he will find creative ways to advertise the right product in front of the right audience,” says Singh.

Kumar also adds, “He has also been in favour of a subscription service as well for users which could be a game changer for the platform as it will be an interesting turn to bring down the dependency on advertising. If the huge percentage of dependency comes down, it could lead to better quality and that could be a future that we all can look forward to or it could just be wishful thinking.”

“His vision to convert this into one super app is something we need to watch out for. If that journey starts, we might have an interesting advertising platform in the mix, especially when Amazon as an advertiser is growing and Meta just reported its first decline and its share price plunging by 25%, says Sharma, concluding, “Let’s just say - It’s the best of times. It's the worst of times.”

 

Post Script

It should be noted that since Musk’s official takeover, the Twitter account of Kanye West, whose account was suspended for a slurry of anti-Semitic remarks, has since been restored, though it is as of now unclear whether this has a direct correlation.

 

 

 

 

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We don't allow ads that promote online gambling: Google

The search giant was questioned by MIB over online betting ads that were still allegedly running on YouTube and Google despite a government advisory issued on October 3

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 8, 2022 8:30 AM   |   2 min read

google

Hours after the e4m report on the government of India's directive to Google to stop displaying surrogate ads of online betting companies, the tech giant has asserted that it doesn’t allow any such ads on its platforms.

“In line with our Ads Policies, and with the local laws and regulations applicable, we do not allow any advertisements that promote online gambling,” a Google spokesperson told e4m.

The spokesperson further stated, “Across our ads systems, we have strict policies in place to stop violations, and we take quick action if we are informed about violative ads.”

The spokesperson was responding to two pointed questions raised by e4m on the development: 1) Would such ads be removed now? 2) How much time would it take to cleanse its platforms of such ads?

There was no response to the third question though: 3) Will there be any monetary losses because of this step?

Based on media reports, e4m reported on Wednesday that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) sent a letter to the search giant, stating that ads for online betting are still running on YouTube and Google even as other platforms stopped them following a government advisory in this regard issued on October 3.

“We have asked Google to stop this immediately," a media report quoted a senior ministry official as saying.

On October 3, the government urged TV, print and digital media platforms asking them not to publish advertisements of online betting platforms on online and social media.

The online advertisement intermediaries were also advised not to target such advertisements towards the Indian audience.

“The advisory had been issued for the reason that betting and gambling is prohibited in most parts of the country, and pose significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children. Accordingly, the promotion of offline or online betting/gambling through advertisements is not advised in the larger public interest,” it stated.

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Hotstar Specials’ Moving In With Malaika unlocks unlimited opportunities for brands

The reality show, created by Banijay Asia and Malaika Arora, released exclusively on Disney+ Hotstar on 5th December

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 7, 2022 6:56 PM   |   2 min read

malaika

Disney+ Hotstar, India’s leading streaming platform, brings an all-new show, Hotstar Specials’ Moving In With Malaika. The scripted reality show features Malaika Arora which marks her much-awaited digital debut. She will give fans access to her past, present, and future through unfiltered conversations in the show. Brands have multiple options of being featured on the show with Malaika and connect with the show's audience in a meaningful way. The show will run till 29th December at a frequency of four episodes per week, with each episode having a runtime of 30 minutes.

With Hotstar Specials’ Moving In With Malaika, Disney+ Hotstar is introducing yet another industry-first innovative solution for brands to engage with their audiences via a live social chat and quiz. Through this feature, viewers will be able to chat and discuss the show during the telecast, along with photos, custom filters and emoticons to support their reactions. Malaika will connect with the audience when the episode releases from 8pm - 8.30 pm daily from Monday-Thursday. This feature will also offer an interesting touchpoint for brands to engage with their audiences via branded emojis.

 “At Disney+ Hotstar we are always trying to enable brands to come one step closer with their audiences via newer and innovative ways. With our all-new impact-reality property, Moving In With Malaika, we take a step further by presenting a one-of-a-kind product interaction opportunity for brands with none other than the talented Malaika Arora. This show gives brands the opportunity to tap into potential customers who are urban, affluent and digitally savvy” said a Disney+ Hotstar spokesperson.

Being an impact-reality show, the series opens up a lot of unique opportunities for brand associations, such as presence on branded slates, astons, branded window, branded tray and the widely featured sponsor slate. Keeping in line with the theme of the show and Malaika Arora’s associations with lifestyle and health segments, the show poses excellent branding opportunities for brands in the health & fitness, interior decor, beauty, food & beverage, automobile and fashion & accessories segment.

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Team Pumpkin retains Vega Helmet’s digital media mandate

The agency will handle social media management and performance marketing for the brand

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 7, 2022 11:39 AM   |   1 min read

Pumpkin

Team Pumpkin will handle the social media management and performance marketing for the brand.

In continuation of a successful relationship, the digital media mandate of Vega Helmets has been retained by Team Pumpkin to continue its role in handling the social media management and performance marketing for the brand. The agency will also be responsible for digital strategy, campaign ideation and execution, aligned with the brand’s mission and vision in the digital space.

Girdhari Chandak, MD, Vega Helmets, said, “We are delighted to continue our successful relationship with Team Pumpkin. They have been exemplary in helping us grow and actualise our organizational goals by leveraging the digital ecosystem with their creativity and innovation. We look forward to this association for the days to come.”

Swati Nathani, Chief Business Officer, Team Pumpkin, said, “We are elated to continue our strong partnership with Vega Auto Accessories. The brand’s ethos of innovation and excellence is something we at Team Pumpkin truly resonate with and it has been a pleasure to work with them. The team is overjoyed with the extension of the mandate and we look forward to adding more value by working together.”

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Govt asks Google to stop showing ads of betting firms

A letter has been sent to the search giant by the MIB in this regard, according to media reports

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 7, 2022 8:58 AM   |   1 min read

betting

Nearly two months after advising online platforms to refrain from promoting offshore betting firms, the Indian government has now reportedly asked Google to stop displaying surrogate ads of such companies in its search results.

According to a media report, the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) has sent a letter to the search giant in this regard.

The report states that the authorities have noticed that though ads of these companies have stopped appearing on TV channels and OTT platforms after they issued an advisory on the matter on October 3, they are still running YouTube and Google.

“We have asked Google to stop this immediately," the report quoted a senior ministry official as saying.

On October 3, the government urged TV, print and digital media platforms asking them not to publish advertisements of online betting platforms on online and social media.

The online advertisement intermediaries were also advised not to target such advertisements towards the Indian audience.

“The advisory had been issued for the reason that betting and gambling is prohibited in most parts of the country, and pose significant financial and socio- economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children. Accordingly, the promotion of offline or online betting/gambling through advertisements is not advised in the larger public interest,” it stated.

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Has digital become the new flag bearer of advertising?

Digital advertising’s market share in 2022 touched 48.8%, while TV rests at 36%, according to recently released GroupM This Year Next Year 2022 report

By Kanchan Srivastava | Dec 7, 2022 8:44 AM   |   7 min read

digital

Digital advertising in 2022 has surpassed all projections made at the beginning of this year, if GroupM’s year-end report is an indication.

According to the year-end report titled ‘This Year Next Year’ 2022 released on Monday, digital AdEx now accounts for a whopping 48.8% market share in advertising; TV represents just 36%. At the beginning of 2022, GroupM had estimated that digital will capture 45% share in advertising, while TV will remain at 39%, a unique proposition that surprised the advertising and media industry. Pitch Madison Annual Report 2022 had made similar predictions of digital advertising leaving behind TV in AdEx.

Despite dwindling market share, TV advertising has grown at 10.8% rate this year and is expected to grow at 13.8% in 2023. Digital advertising will see growth rise from 17.3% in 2022 to 21% in 2023.

Meanwhile, India’s total ad spends have reached $14.9 billion (approx Rs 122,000 crores) exhibiting nearly 15.8 percent growth and expected to grow at 16.8%, the media agency claimed.

TV Vs digital

TV has been losing its share of the ad pie over the last three years, while digital has been gaining. From 29 per cent market share in 2019, digital AdEx share grew to 38 per cent in 2020, 41 per cent in 2021 and touching 49 per cent in 2022.

Meanwhile, TV’s market share which remained above 40 per cent so far, has slid to 36 per cent in 2022, claims TYNY year-end report. It has added fuel to the ongoing debate on digital versus TV that has rocked the media and advertising industry for the last couple of years.

According to Mona Jain, CRO of ABP Network, the growing dominance of digital is a reality. “Well, this is a reality, and one can see that through the campaigns being released. Digital is taking dominance and many brands when planning campaigns are also looking at only digital communication - hence the forecast,” she noted.

Jain believes that television still works as a “reach generator” but increasingly digital is also being perceived as not only providing reach to campaigns but also providing enhanced frequency efficiently. “But I don’t know how effective it is and if the brand campaigns are able to create enough visibility and impact and create a sustained recall for the brands,” she quips.

Anil Uniyal, CEO, BQ Prime, said, “This trend does not come as a surprise. Advertisers will move where the audiences are. It has been consistent with the shift in consumption patterns of audiences over the last decade but the last 2-3 years have seen an acceleration, in light of the pandemic and shift of key businesses becoming digital-first as well.”
 
The shift towards digital is not a new development as we have seen over the last few years. Since 2016 digital advertising has grown by over 300%. Today Digital consumption growth has outstripped all other media consumption, he adds. 

Macroeconomic factors

One of the reasons for the shift to digital could be the stress on the economy and factors like the war and rising inflation leading to reduced margins for advertisers forcing them to be conservative and run only sustenance campaigns - where digital works better from an efficiency and outlay point of view, Jain explains.

Jain further adds, “The categories that are spending money like auto, pharma, e-commerce, and mobiles are redirecting money to digital. While FMCG is still spending on television and did report growth but with reduced margins, they too used television judiciously and focused on the efficiency of delivery and hence were limited on impact buys.”

According to Ashish Bhasin, Co-Founder and Chairman, RD&X Network, in adverse market conditions where advertisers are looking at conserving spends, brand spends are often delayed and curtailed. “Brands are undergoing a rationalization phase where every penny is accounted for,” he says.

Shift was inevitable

Marketers believe the shift towards digital video was inevitable as the number of connected users continues to rise across the length and breadth of India.

Rajiv Dubey, Media Head, Dabur India, shared, “With almost as many smartphone devices in hands of people as much as the TV universe, the change was bound to happen. This change will be felt across e-commerce platforms as well as unified payment systems become accessible to a wider population.”

The growth of digital has been consistent over the past decade with two big inflexion points. The first was in 2016 when Jio’s launch crashed data prices in India to amongst the lowest in the world. This together with the increase in smartphone penetration, estimated at over 600 million users, spiked digital consumption dramatically, shares Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist and Investor.

To make matters worse, TV viewership shrank by 12% in 2022 with a sharp decline in consumption in major genres such as Hindi news channels (-21%), General Entertainment Channels (-23%), Movies (-11%) and Regional GECs (-3%).

Is a drop in viewership responsible for AdEx's shift to digital? Jain denies. “I don’t think it is essentially because of a drop in viewership- you do have programmes and genres of channels still delivering high numbers, nationally and regionally.”


Low cost, innovative formats

Digital advertising enables smaller advertisers with limited budgets to slice and dice consumers for their relevant segments, experts point out.

Mathias says, “SMEs can target consumers at a much lower cost than mass television buys where segregation of audiences to the level of personalisation is not possible.”

Mona Jain echoes the sentiments, saying, “Probably digital platform’s ability to innovate and create impactful communication at lower outlays to a targeted audience and also quantification of the same could be the reason for the shift.”

Besides, digital advertising moved beyond simplistic formats to more evolved formats like influencer marketing and social commerce. All these are contributing to moving the advertising pie toward digital.

TV plus digital

Bhasin insists that it is “digital plus TV '', not “digital versus TV”.

“Both TV and digital are growing in India. India is still in fact a fast growing market for TV. However, digital is growing faster than TV and its growth momentum will continue for two main reasons-5G network and addition of 250-300 million new internet users soon from small towns and rural India,” Bhasin says, adding that TV will continue to grow as it offers reach while digital helps in performance driven marketing.

Bhasin, however, clarifies that platforms that offer good content would grow, others won’t. “Content is not just king. Content is the emperor now. For users, channels or platforms are not important. They stick to good content. Going forward, channels offering good content will rise,” Bhasin opines.

New platforms

Decline of TV share is blamed on the rise of OTTs, short video platforms and social media platforms, all of which are competing for the share of time spent by the TV audience.

“Advent of CTV, as modern TV boxes are getting internet enabled, is opening the user to a plethora of quality content from the various OTTs.  Short video apps have also eaten into the share of time spent and eyeballs of the TV audience. This shift is also mirrored by the shift in ad spends on the medium,” said Sajal Gupta, Sajal Gupta - Chief Executive - Kiaos Marketing.

He added that CTV and OTTs also allow sharper targeting which makes the media reach out a lot more effectively and reduces wastages.

Matthias agrees. “The switch from linear TV to digital has accelerated significantly during the pandemic. Also, the growth of digital video – YouTube, Instagram Reels, and short format video such as Tik Tok clones like Moj, Josh, MX TakaTak, Chingari, and Roposo have attracted eyeballs in a short attention span world,” he shares.

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e4m-DNPA virtual roundtable: Experts to shed light on publisher-platform relationship

The roundtables are the precursor to the e4m-DNPA Future of Digital Media Summit & Awards to be held in January

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 6, 2022 8:45 AM   |   2 min read

dnpa dialogues

With deeper internet penetration, the growth of digital media is unprecedented. In a bid to shed light on the future of digital media, the opportunities that it brings and the challenges that lie ahead, exchange4media and the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) are organizing the second edition of the virtual roundtable conferences with international speakers. The virtual roundtable will be held on December 9, 2022 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm IST.

The second edition of the e4m-DNPA Dialogues will see experts discussing the topic: ‘Decoding the Publisher- Platform Relationship’. The speakers, who are thought leaders from various countries, senior journalists, publishers, technology leaders, legal professionals and other stakeholders, will discuss the issues involved in creating an ideal relationship between news publishers and Big Tech platforms in rebuilding the business of journalism.

The e4m-DNPA virtual dialogue will cover the requirement of a new focus on solutions. DNPA represents the digital arms of the country's top media companies working in the areas of print and television.

In a bid to maintain the quality of journalism, the publishers are seeking a level playing field between themselves and online platforms and are trying to create a more sustainable foundation for the preservation of high-quality journalism.

The DNPA Dialogues are held with an aim to find the issues and solutions, and potential publisher playbook into the essentials for news media companies. The dialogues bring together the brightest minds to create the strategies and business models to help quality journalism thrive and encourage open and unconstrained discussions, and provide a testing ground for ideas and possible new policy approaches.

The first edition of the DNPA Dialogues was held on November 25 where the best minds came together to explore the challenges the digital media faces. These roundtables are precursors to the e4m-DNPA “Future of Digital Media Summit & Awards” to be held on January 20, 2023 in New Delhi.

Here is the list of speakers:

Avinash Pandey

CEO, ABP Network

Puneet Jain

CEO, HT Digital

Dr Annurag Batra

Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, Businessworld & exchange4media

Taylor Owen

Beaverbrook Chair of Media, Ethics and Communication, Max Bell School of Public Policy, McGill University

Dr Courtney Radsch

Fellow, UCLA Institute for Technology, Law and Policy

Paul Deegan

President and Chief Executive Officer, News Media Canada

Click here to register for the event.

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A digital mediapalooza in the making?

Guest Column: Rahul Vengalil, ED, Everest Solutions, likens the present situation in advertising to the mid-2010s when brands went after buying efficiency by ignoring planning effectiveness

By Rahul Vengalil | Dec 6, 2022 8:22 AM   |   5 min read

Rahul Vengalil, ED, Everest Solutions

Google and Facebook together received advertising revenues of close to Rs 40,000 crore last year, which is a significant amount. This is more than the outlay in all the TV mediums together, substantially higher than what was put into the print medium as well. As a digital marketer since 2010, I should be jumping with joy looking at these numbers, but the truth is I am not. I am afraid there that we are going into an unsustainable model in the coming days. 

Digital marketing has become a much sought-after career today, from creative to media to data to whatnot. The number of youngsters who want to get into digital media, social media and content marketing has multiplied manifold of late. These are good trends, but unfortunately, I believe there is a bubble in the making. The costs have gone up substantially on one side, but the agency remuneration hasn’t gone up accordingly. If I were to put the key reason behind this, it is the democratization of digital media. 

Let’s sieve through the chaff and really look at reality. Google and Meta increased their revenue last year and are close to Rs 40,000 crore. This entire amount hasn’t been planned and bought by the media agencies in India. It is bought by agencies, influencers, mature startups, SMEs/MSMEs, and many mom-and-pop stores. As per one estimate, Meta has over 8 million active advertisers on their platform globally and a major part of its revenue comes from direct advertisers. It won't be that different in India as well. This means that the advertising budget that is handled by agencies would well be less than half of the number that is quoted everywhere. In contrast, more than 90% of offline media is bought by agencies. In a biz model that works on commission, a lesser number of people are buying almost double the media on offline channels. 

I remember a time early in my career when I was working with a marquee client in India. My retainer for being the digital creative agency was x and the retainer that my counterpart charged then for being the mainline agency was nothing less than 30x. This gap has significantly reduced over the year, but still exist. Digital or more rightly put social media has become the lead medium for every client in India today. The expectation is for every piece of content that is put up on social media to provide the brand’s POV and if possible become viral.

That’s undue pressure on the agency partner to deliver, and mind you, an agency creates everywhere between 15 creatives and 30 creatives each month, that’s a run rate of 1 per day. Compare this with what the mainline agency creates, which is 10 campaigns in a year, resulting in videos, print ads and other collaterals.

What a digital agency creates in a month a mainline agency at best creates in half a year, keeping the studio job outside of the purview for now. Companies are still not ready to create a remuneration parity between digital agencies and mainline agencies today, because the perceived notion is that the 1 TVC or print ad is significantly more important than the content that is created for social media platforms. 

Digital media is so democratized that any advertiser with a credit card can advertise today, and a bunch of friends who understand social media can create an advertising agency. My most conservative estimation is that there are over 3000 digital media agencies (creative and media together) in India today. In comparison, the number of mainline agencies would be significantly lower. The hurdles to start an offline media buying unit is high, from initial investment for tools, access, affiliation, etc in comparison to online where you just need a credit card. The challenges to start an offline creative unit is also comparatively higher compared to the online counterpart, after all, one can also create content using Canva to publish online. 

Just to reiterate, the number of people coming into digital media has increased, the costs of the resources have increased, and the number of agencies doing digital is much higher than traditional, but the amount of media bought by digital agencies has not seen a corresponding rise, the remunerations paid to digital agencies for making content is not at par with traditional agencies (barring few exceptions).

The situation is much like the media palooza of the mid-2010s where brands went after buying efficiency by ignoring planning effectiveness. When agencies are not paid equitably for the amount of time and effort that is being put on the table, the quality of the output will suffer. The conversation should move away from what’s the “best cost” to “what can you do to impact my business positively”. Alternatively, businesses can also lower the expectation from the digital partner, which I don’t think should be even on the table as an option.

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