The downside to digital platforms is advertising exhaustion: CEO, VML SEA & India

Tripti Lochan of VML SEA & India says integrating digital and traditional marketing these days helps to drive long term awareness among customers

While advertisers are currently spending most on traditional mediums like TV and print, the question that arises is whether this faith in traditional medium is sustainable?

In an interview with exchange4media, Tripti Lochan, Chief Executive Officer, VML SEA & India, with 20 years of industry experience specialising in technology, marketing and sales, reveals how the brand believes in integrating digital and traditional marketing these days, in order to drive long term awareness among customers. Lochan highlights advertising exhaustion on most digital platforms to be a challenge to digital technology today.

Here are the edited excerpts:

How has VML contextualised its offerings to the Indian market and what according to you are the most prominent platforms for high engagement with the Indian digital audience?

The Indian consumer uses varied channels to consume content. There are digital native millennials similar to global millennials, who are on social media platforms such as Instagram and are consuming the same type of content as their western counterparts. On the other hand, there are consumers in tier 2-3 cities in India who are primarily Whatsapp and video driven.

We have contextualised our offering to this reality in India. We use different platforms depending on the brand and the users we are looking to target. We try to design solutions and experiences which cater to their requirements and sensibilities.

How's the Indian digital market that VML caters to, different in behaviour from that of South East Asia?

Because of high mobile penetration to parts of India, the country is seeing an entire generation of first-time digital consumers experiencing the internet for the first time. We’re catering to an audience that is rapidly developing, digital and economical. Southeast Asia, on the other hand, is a diverse market ranging from emerging Myanmar to the very connected Singapore. Every brand experience, be it content or transaction focused, has to be imagined for the mobile screen first, and one spans through the range of evolved to evolving consumers.

While marketers are enamoured by digital advertising, how does one efficiently record data metrics in order to monetise viewership, in an era where trust is at the lowest?

The Indian consumer is getting more data savvy now. The right way to get consumers to share data with advertisers is to get them to trust the brand. This happens by making sure that the brand creates content of value to the consumer; only this can lead to an opt in from consumers. Getting consumer consent is the next stage, and then finally constant engagement.

It is important that the brand maps out the consumers path to purchase. This helps define relevant intervention points for the brand. Creating value at these junctures will make sure that consumers don’t drop off in their journeys and more importantly the brand is relevant to the consumer at each step along the way.

Is the digital duopoly in today's time declining, will it be worth buying digital media beyond Google-Facebook, and what is your reasoning behind this?

The biggest player emerging outside of Google and Facebook, is Amazon. With e-commerce gaining more momentum in India, it is vital for brands who want to utilise online, to consider buying media on marketplaces themselves. Amazon has created its own search and media ecosystem which works independently of Google. It’s imperative that brands get partners on board to help them with their digital media presence of marketplaces like Amazon.

When you compare digital marketing and traditional marketing, what are the downsides to a digital platform, or is it best when both are combined?

We are now speaking to clients about how best to leverage both in an integrated manner. For example, research has shown that online video, combined with TV, can drive long term awareness. So increasingly we see them operating in tandem.

Having said that, if a brand had to choose one over the other for various reasons, then the biggest downside to digital platforms is that there is advertising exhaustion setting in on most platforms. Users ignore any content that looks remotely like an ad. Facebook with its new algorithm is attempting to improve user experience, but at the expense of brand and publisher content.

People like digital video ads less than TV ads and want to be in control of them. Earning attention requires strong creative rather than intrusive ad units. Even so, there is a high likelihood that viewers will click away from an ad as soon as they can. So, video ads need to reward people for staying and convey key elements early.

What is your take on the agenda of 'Video First'. In digital how is this of any help to increase market share?

Consumption behaviour and advertising trends both show that video content is taking the lead. Digital video advertising is expected to grow at 54 per cent in 2018 according to a report by GroupM. With Indians already the fourth largest consumer of mobile ads, a lot of Internet traffic will be video. So, if users are all present on video, there is no option for the advertiser but to move to video as well.

To accelerate the market share, creativity in video content will require an increase in product activity, increase in relative product quality and increase in marketing expenditure. For example, when Complan came to us with a new formula of better product quality – more protein, we wanted to tell a story related to the increase in relative product quality. Video was the best medium that helped us deliver the message behind Complan’s new product. For more updates, be socially connected with us on
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