Mobility, not mobile, is the way ahead: Rishad Tobaccowala

Rishad Tobaccowalla, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, VivaKi, had a long conversation with exchange4media where he shared his views about the future of the medium, and what the big obstacles are that we need to get past now.

e4m by Gopal Sathe
Updated: May 19, 2011 8:53 AM
Mobility, not mobile, is the way ahead: Rishad Tobaccowala

Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, VivaKi was in India recently and he shared his views on the changing face of digital marketing, in India and around the world, with exchange4media.

Speaking about the future of digital, Tobaccowala shared the view that mobility, not mobile, is the way ahead. He said, “We believe digital will grow in India but will take some time to catch up since many of the other media in India are still in high growth mode. For instance magazines and newspapers in the west are saturated or declining businesses but they are growing explosively in India. In addition there are less than 100 million Internet users over computers in India which has limited internet spending.”

He added, “But we see this changing because of mobile phones. We will see in the next two or three years a large part of the phones in India (600 millon right now) becoming smart phones versus simple phones. This will be a major factor in digital media growth.”

While this has been a game changer, for Tobaccowala, the real driver now will be mobility and not mobile. Explaining this, he said, “By mobility we mean a) mobile phones, b)tablets like the iPad and c) the ability for content to move from one device to another including from phone to TV. Most companies like Google are creating for Mobile first and 35 per cent of Facebook interactions are already mobile. Most laptop computers are getting smaller and thinner and connected wirelessly to the Internet. Yes, mobility is big.”

He added, “Also we expect that tablets will be important as a mobile device built for consuming media. Phones are good for communication and utilities (mapping, etc) but tablets are great for playing games, reading magazines and books and for watching video. They will have big impact on gaming and publishing industries and television and movie companies will need to see tablets as a key distribution point.”

Speaking about the way we measure and rate campaigns, Tobaccowala shared the focus needs to be on the objectives of the campaign, and not necessarily numbers like Click Through Rate, and that innovation leads RoI.

Tobaccowala said, “The emphasis should be on ROO which is return on objective. Once a marketer knows what they want to do, they need to have metrics that measure the progress against these objectives. There is nothing wrong with CPC and CTR itself but if they are used as measures without knowing what one is doing or reducing things to these numbers it makes no sense.

“We believe measurement is usually a dash board of a few numbers of which CTR and CPC maybe one or two as well as others, plus a lot of management gut decision making looking at the numbers,” he said.

He gave the example of a campaign for Snickers across the Middle East. In 2010, during the World Cup, since most companies would have football campaigns, VivaKi did research and found that the young men who got together to watch football also wanted to brag and show off when their teams won.

So, the agency gave them a chance to 'step up' and participate in the world’s longest football match. The match was seen by 9.7 million people, became a news item by itself and was hugely shared on social media, with streaming of video and pictures on Facebook. Snickers was able to reach fans and gain new brand followers, demanding the next such chance.

The latest buzz today is around social media, and Tobaccowala is a great believer in its reach and effectiveness, saying that it can bring great results.

He said, “Social (or earned) media is a critical part of our strategy of helping deliver ideas simply and efficiently across paid, owned and earned connections. We know word of mouth has always been a powerful component of marketing but now with the ‘peoples network’ comprising things like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube among others, people can now scale their word of mouth. Aligning with and integrating this is a big part of the future of marketing.”

“We do not believe social media is overhyped but rather over simplified. Smart marketers understand that social will require significant change in the way we market and it will involve data, organisational change, new metrics and partners and is much more than having a facebook page,” Tobaccbowala added.

A lack of innovation though might be the biggest obstacle in the path to development of digital media in India. Tobaccowala said, “Innovation is critical. Apple innovated while Microsoft and Dell and Intel did not. They played it safe. Guess who is worth more today? Successful companies have innovation at the core. If innovation is shiny new toys and experiments to get press coverage we would say forget it. If innovation is fresh insightful connections that allow for better ways to understand and meet customer requirements than we believe it is essential. Innovation is not about just doing new things but doing things one does better and smarter and thus feeds ROI.”

One such example is the Buick Moment of Truth campaign, which was around public opinions of the 2011 Regal. Buick gave the consumers a forum where they could hold their conversations about the vehicle, and the site merged social media, the creative and technology to aggregate real time social media and blog commentary for all mentions of the car, pulling content from YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

By offering a transparent experience, the agency was able to create a community of brand enthusiasts and spokespeople, and it helped Buick to become the fastest growing car brand in the US.

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