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Online brand-building in India: The flight, figures and favourability – Part 1

25-August-2010
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Online brand-building in India: The flight, figures and favourability – Part 1

While digital has become the most convenient and sought-after medium of communication, the importance of traditional media is still too pertinent to be dismissed. Brands and advertisers have their own unique set of priorities and target audience to cater to and the implementation of any communication tool depends entirely on that. Having said that, advertisers these days don’t really have inhibitions on experimentations. This is where the advertisers and digital media owners come together to create a unique experience for the users and ultimately secure for itself, a bigger chunk of the attention pie.

comScore data for the month of June 2010 shows Yahoo! and Microsoft sites as the top two Indian names in terms of total audience that these websites attract. Yahoo! Had recorded 28,655,000 unique visitors, while MSN had seen 18,244,000 unique users on its sites, followed by Rediff.com India Ltd, whose numbers stand at 10,516,000. In terms of reach, Yahoo! reaches out to 73.2 per cent of the Indian population, while MSN envelopes 46.6 per cent of it, a difference of 26.6 per cent.

So, has online brand-building arrived in India? Or is it still at a very nascent stage? Who is the winner out of the two – advertiser or the digital media owner? exchange4media sought to find answers to such questions and spoke to top two Indian digital media owners as well as industry experts for a comprehensive view.

Online brand-building – The take-off

According to comScore, Inc, India, the online brand-building has been on an upswing. Segments like automobiles, have been investing in building brands online and have seen tremendous benefits in the last few months.

Nitin Mathur, Senior Director, Marketing, Yahoo! India, stated, “Brand-building on the Internet is already happening in India, leading brands are increasingly recognizing the power of digital medium and are hiring experts within their marketing teams to focus on digital advertising. Companies are also changing their traditional brand tracking and monitoring tools to include digital advertising and social media conversations.”

While Neville Taraporewalla, Director, India Advertiser & Publisher Solutions Group, Microsoft Consumer & Online, believes that digital marketing budgets of the advertisers are increasing as they realize the importance of their brand’s online presence. “Companies & brands are realizing this and have started leveraging the digital space in order to build their brands. FMCG companies like Hindustan Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Cadbury’s and Tata Tea have already increased their digital advertising budgets by 8-10 per cent for individual brands. With growing broadband usage and rising internet-enabled mobile phones in India, marketers are now looking at increasing their digital spends to reach out to their target audience & build their brands online,” he informed.

Adding further to the discussion, Kedar Gavane, Director of Sales, comScore, Inc, India, said, “Due to the depth of measurement available digital media, advertising expenditure online had been skewed towards performance advertising. To get the brand marketing monies online, the advertisers, media owners and planners need to speak the same language. Branding is about getting your message to as many viewers as possible, as many times as is necessary. A campaign’s reach and frequency are the best parameters to use when it comes to executing online brand campaigns.”

Luring the money-spender – The advertiser

The buck stops with the advertiser, and it is he who needs to be explained about where his money is going and how much is he is being benefitted out of the entire online brand-building activity. So, how do the portals get them to spend? Taraporewalla answered, “We provide advertising opportunities that deliver 100 per cent share of voice and no clutter, through our home page Innovations. In the online space, for advertisers, results are tangible in terms of impressions, clicks & views, making it that much easier for advertisers to know of their returns on investment. Returns on investment is not simply clicks or click through rates. It’s more about improving the image of the brand measured through various brand uplift & purchase intent studies which are easily available for customers to conduct. Since we have seen a significant transition in marketing strategies over time - from ‘PUSH’ to ‘PULL’ marketing, where consumers today sift through the brand messages and choose the ones that engage, educate and inspire them in newer and meaningful ways - MSN India offers it's advertisers just the right platform to do this. Moreover, advertisers/brands are offered the most creative digital solutions through Microsoft Advertising.”

On the other hand, Yahoo! indirectly attracts advertisers through innovative programs for its creative and media agencies to help them understand the tools. Mathur explained, “Yahoo! is committed to building the digital ecosystem with a route strongly focused on education and evangelizing. While marketers and agencies are extremely excited with the digital space there is a lot that can be done to work with them to understand the possibilities and the creative opportunities the medium provides. For example at Yahoo!, we run a program called ‘Fresh Fridays’ for creative and media agencies. Under this program, we interact with agencies individually to run workshops on educating on possibilities and trends of digital advertising. In a relaxed, interactive environment sharp creative minds look at trends, possibilities, global creatives and the best practices. We also do education sessions on digital for corporates, sometimes these are for segments which are traditional and yet adopt digital in a significant manner.”

“Our pitch to advertisers is simple – our platform, across MSN India, Windows Live including Hotmail and Messenger as well as the Microsoft Media Network, COMBINED reach out to more than half the online population in India.. We provide advertisers with extended reach and the opportunity to tailor campaigns according to budget, target audience and marketing objective – ensuring that the ads are run based on where they perform best”, Taraporewalla added.

The number game – Results

The ratio of the numbers invested (monies) against numbers achieved (audience covered or results) is what the advertisers are interested in, at the end of the day.

Mathur explained, “Yahoo! brings to advertisers the unique combination of ‘Science + Art + Scale’ to help brands reach their audiences. We combine the science to target an audience with the art to create engagement with creativity on a large digital canvas, and the scale to reach the right audience which is 74.5% of India’s total online population (according to comScore data, May’10).

He further added, “In its campaigns for Samsung, Citibank, Pepsi, TATA DoCoMo, Yatra and Cadburys, Yahoo! has delivered great results for all the brands. With each brands objective being unique, Yahoo! as an advertising platform brought to them creative routes to reach their audiences, engage them and interact with them in the contextually right environment. For example, The Samsung Jet campaign reached out to over 3 MM unique users in just seven hours with very high engagement. On an average a user spends over 1 min every time they interacted with the ad.”

While for MSN, the recent revamp of the portal has clicked with both advertisers and the users. “Our recently concluded fiscal year (July – June), has seen yo-yo growth of over 40per cent and we are projected to maintain a strong & steady growth in the coming year as well. Our revamped home page packed with innovative advertiser options has met with good responses with both unique users as well as in terms of page views, which are on the rise as indicated by comScore . A lot of effort gone by in the last 12 months, with inputs across the board and it has seen customer delight which is reflected in the increased usage of MSN India both by brands and users alike”, Taraporewalla informed.

Tomorrow: Advantages for digital media owners, the brand side of the story, and more…

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