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Wading through marketing obstacles in a digital world

18-January-2011
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Wading through marketing obstacles in a digital world

Results International Group, along with exchange4media, organised ‘Digital 3.0: A Roundtable on Marketing Strategies in a Digital World’ in Delhi on January 17, 2011. The session was moderated by Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group. The participants in this Roundtable included eminent and distinguished members of the industry: Daryl Arnold, CEO, Newton Circus and Founder, Profero; Vivek Bhargava, Managing Director, Communicate2; Andrew Kefford, President, Asia Pacific, Results International; Sukirti Gupta, CEO, MMI Online; Bill Hunt, SES Advisory Board and President, Back Azimuth Consulting; Shams Jasani, Country Head, Isobar India; Sonya Sahni, Head - Marketing, iStrat; Praveen Sharma, Head - Agency Business, Google India; and Sanjay Trehan, Head - MSN India, Microsoft.

Digital 3.0 decoded
Following the introductions, Arnold of Newton Circus commenced the discussion by pointing out what Digital 3.0 implied. He remarked, “For good businesses, it means profitability. It gives you a space to involve customers and be more open, transparent and help create a relationship.” However, for a bad company, social media was very bad as it would entail bad reviews and feedbacks from the customers. “If you are a good company, you should just let the product do the talking for you,” Arnold advised, adding, “Digital 3.0 allows you to innovate around the product and give more value to the customers. A good company would not have to be dependent on advertising agency to make-up stuff, the product, if good enough will sell itself.”

“Agencies need to evolve and die as well,” observed Hunt of Back Azimuth Consulting. According to him, Digital 3.0 was less about the marketer and more about the advertising agency. Digital 3.0 would teach how to look into advertising agencies and understanding consumer behaviour would form an essential aspect of it. “Things are drastically changing around us and we need to take note of it to survive,” Hunt said, going on to stress on the necessity of spending more on research, because only then would one be able to understand what the consumer really wanted. He also raised important questions on the use of digital media versus traditional media.

According to MSN India’s Trehan, Digital 3.0 referred to, what sociologists called, regeneration. The current generation is constantly re-inventing themselves and it is essential for the media to change with them. Enumerating a few trends in the industry, he said, “In publishing, one can see that news is being discovered through social network. There is a distinct paradigm shift, which cannot be missed.” He cited the example of Social Guardian, launched by The Guardian, which enables assessment of news in real-time. He also said that brands needed to have a bottom-up approach as “Brands are no longer sacrosanct. They have to constantly re-invent, re-evaluate and re-make themselves”.

Trehan further noted that in the current times, the way marketing was done had to change and could not be carried out the traditional way. “Spending across all available media platforms might not work. The need is to tap the consumer in the various stages of his thought process, which will lead to his buy,” Trehan said, adding that in the current times, where media consumption was increasing, how to tap the consumer was what the digital players would have to define for themselves.

iStrat’s Sahni noted, “I think digital is no more a noise... Digital 3.0 is about the consumer era, consumers who have a voice and have a platform to express it in.” And for its success, she said, it was essential to get agencies on-board to deliver and take the experience of digital forward. She stressed on the importance of educating advertising agency about the efficiency of this medium.

Understanding consumer behaviour
Jasani of Isobar India said that the consumer behaviour was changing. Today, one went on the digital platform to discover the product, before the final buy. Today, one should be aiming at 365 degree marketing and “you have to be with the customer on all the 365 days of the year,” he said, adding that the Internet ad spends in India were low and needed to be higher than they were at present (2.5-3.2 per cent).

According to Google India’s Sharma, India was a very important market and the head-room for growth was great. There was a big disparity in India between the number of businesses and the number of businesses that were online; a gap which needed to be mended. He further said that the number of ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) clients was growing and it was essential that businesses strengthened their online presence as it impacted cumulative sales. One of the biggest problems, according to Sharma, in the growth of digital in India was measurement. “It is a big problem if the most valued market research, IRS, is under-representing you by 80 per cent, considering that most businesses follow the IRS data,” he noted. Sharma also maintained that the Internet was no longer a niche media. He cited research figures to drive home his point. Expressing hope for the future, he said, “Digital marketing is getting attention and there have been some breakthrough products in the market over the past few years, and top CMOs are taking note of this fact.”

Throwing light on Jagran Group’s digital plans MMI Online’s Gupta said, “The Internet is still a dip in the bucket of what Jagran produces otherwise. Our aim has been to make online content engaging, compelling, viable and interesting. Today, the consumer wants a two-way dialogue and wants a response to what they say. It is all about what the consumer or reader wants and this is how we articulate digital.”

Internet and ad spends
According to Bhargava of Communicate2, “Once the reach of Internet increases, ad spends will increase too. I think the way consumers are interacting with the medium is changing. By studying consumer behaviour through the Internet, one can predict and identify what people are thinking and doing.” One can study such trends and use it to their advantage to understand what people will buy, and what they won’t.

Other issues that were raised at the Roundtable included how money was being to spend to several advertising agencies who did not have know-how of this medium (digital) and follow misplaced facts from researches such as IRS. There were also debates on the efficacy and use of strategies such as display advertising and means to maximise efficiency and minimise waste in digital. The need to digitalise advertising agencies and impart more knowledge about the medium was also addressed.
 

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