Digital in India means Mobile: Siddharth Banerjee, Facebook India

Siddharth Banerjee, Director, Global Sales Organisation, Facebook India, talks to exchange4media about the importance of mobile video advertising in Digital India and Thumbstoppers initiative

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Updated: Oct 21, 2019 9:03 AM



Advertising on social media is synonymous with advertising on Facebook and now the platform has taken creativity in mobile video advertising a notch higher with its 10-second Thumbstoppers.

exchange4media caught up with Siddharth Banerjee, Director, Global Sales Organisation, Facebook India, to better understand their Thumbstoppers initiative, the FMCG toolkit and some crystal ball gazing into the big social media trends for the year 2020.

What was the rationale behind Thumbstoppers? How has the response been to Facebook Thumbstoppers?
We believe that in today's digital world that consumers live in, and when I say digital for India, digital means mobile. So in today's mobile world, that consumers live in, brands, creative agencies, media agencies, the entire ecosystem must recognize that and reflect that in the way that we build brands and in the way that we conduct business. And therefore, Facebook Thumbstoppers, is our effort in involving the entire ecosystem.

Beyond Facebook, which is creative agency partners, production houses, creative artists, brands and organizations into the effort for brilliant storytelling on mobile, in this case for Thumbstoppers specifically short-format video storytelling on mobile. And therefore, we figured out that it would be useful for us to get together as an industry as an ecosystem to fuel the effort towards better storytelling on mobile because traditionally we have been great storytellers in terms of TV, Print, etc. But we wanted to pave the way for an industry excellence in terms of creativity on mobiles as well, and hence, Facebook Thumstoppers. At Facebook, we have been delighted with the response that Thumbstoppers has got.  

 What other ad formats on Facebook are popular among advertisers?
So, while brands use Facebook and Instagram solutions across many different industries, two things that I would like to call out which brands are doing, and doing with some great effect. When I say effect with some great business and brand results, the two things are stories and interactivity. So, if you look at specially Instagram, there are brands which are utilising the recent shift of consumers towards ephemerality, which is their posts and their communication which live for 24 hours and then fade away and that is what ephemerality is, and brands also are participating in stories as a format. The other interesting format that brands have started using on our platforms is interactivity, which can be as simple as polling. So stories and interactivity, will be the two big call outs that I would like to place in terms of advertising on our platforms.

User Generated Content is a buzz word on social media. Your view on it as an advertising medium.

I think our apps allow different forms of expression. So, when you look at Facebook, our original Facebook app, it is all about groups, communities talking to each other, friends and family. When you look at Instagram, it is about visual expression. And there again, you can put up pictures that delight you, but also follow passions. You can follow people who have knowledge of the subject, you can follow influencers. And that we think is a very, very big platform for people in India. And then, of course, there is communication, which is WhatsApp currently. So we believe that the Facebook family of apps between Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp allows for different kinds of communication to consumers across India and indeed across the world.

What according to you are the big digital trends for 2020 on social media?
So without crystal ball gazing, I think if I look at consumer behaviour, the first big thing, of course, which is well known, but less acted upon is the lowering of consumer attention spans. Therefore, when we talk about Facebook Thumbstoppers it's an initiative to get the industry together, to get the ecosystem together, to recognise that if people are spending time on mobiles, and if consumer behaviour is different on mobiles, then you've got to create your communication in a different way. Therefore, the first call out for 2020 is for both agency partners as well as big brands to get ready for creativity on mobile, and therefore get ready for Thumbstoppers assets, as we call them.

The second call out is for a lot of our partners and clients to look at Instagram because that has become big and meaningful in India. It allows for interactivity, it allows for following your passions.

The third part is for our associated clients and partners to look at various kinds of measurements that we offer - right from measurement in CPG, in FMCG, called CMM (Custom Mix Modelling) to other industries like e-commerce. Hence, we believe that as a responsible platform, measurement truly provides value to people who invest their marketing rupees and give them transparent results.

 What can advertisers expect from Facebook’s FMCG toolkit?
While Facebook has solutions across different industries and verticals, the reason we have started talking about the FMCG toolkit is because (apart from the fact that I come from that world having worked with Unilever for many years), a good 30 per cent of the AdEx in India is from FMCG. So we need to offer FMCG advertisers solutions that can make them competitive in the market, and give them results they can be happy about. Our FMCG toolkit is essentially built on three pillars, the first of which is creativity on mobile, something demonstrated in our Thumbstoppers initiative. The second is real-time dynamic measurement, something that is very important to FMCG players since they place a great deal of emphasis on consumer research and measurable brand and business outcomes. Therefore, we offer something called Customised Mix Modelling (CMM) that Nielsen has worked with, which we have supported. The third part of the toolkit is ‘Media Planning 2.0’, which is ideal in a fragmented media environment. This is where we offer FMCG players a fantastic amount of reach, engagement and excellent business results, built on full funnel solutions that Facebook delivers.

How important is the mobile phone in India’s digital eco-sysytem?
Digital in India is mobile. I think in India, we have leapfrogged the desktop and the tablets, and literally everything is Mobile. Mobile is the front and center. And hence our call out and our submission to partners across the ecosystem is that we must understand consumer behaviour on mobile, communication on mobile, and measurement on mobile. Initiatives like Facebook Thumbstoppers are therefore directionally the right things for the industry to support and come together.

With inputs from Christina Moniz

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