JWT Coffee & Donuts: What Digital Marketing is NOT: Sanjay Mehta

Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Mirum, says that creating a long format film and simply putting it on a digital channel is not digital marketing, it is far more complex than that

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: May 7, 2018 8:56 AM

We have clearly reached a point in time where more and more clients are deploying larger chunks of their marketing budgets into digital marketing. And in almost all cases, this increase is coming at the cost of a reduction of some of the traditional media budgets.

This is not happening because television has lost its charm. The TVC as a means of storytelling, and a TV media slot on a popular and relevant TV program, is still by far, one of the best ways of getting a good marketing communication out. However, the client has her fair share of questions and doubts, while committing to such spends for TVCs:

• There is a high level of dependence on the creative working out just right! In a cluttered world, there is that tiny sliver of time to get the consumer’s attention and interest. Given the high cost of creating a TVC then, it becomes all the more challenging for a brand head to commit to that expense, when potentially, she has other options that she can choose from.
• Even when the creative is good, and the TVC is liked by people, there is still the next question: whether it really impacts business, whether it drives people to the stores to purchase the product! There are times when a good TVC is appreciated for what it is – a good film. And the needle on product sales may not move much. In VUCA times, companies are under pressure to meet their own numbers, and net impact on sales often outweighs other factors in marketing decision making.
• That said, the bigger brands with large budgets cannot NOT be on TV, and hence they continue to invest into TVCs. But there are many other brands who do not have such large budgets, or whose current financial state is not as healthy, and they may not have the luxury to take the risk with TVCs, considering the issues highlighted above. Especially at a time when there are other options.

I am not even referring to print, outdoor or cinema advertising, as really, their relevance has become very limited and budgets are clearly shrinking there.

The most important aspects in all of those media is the question of accountability. The means to connect a marketing effort in traditional media to real business results is far from being accurate. And also, by the time you realize that some TVC or print ad did not really work, a significant amount of spend might have already happened and gone down the drain.

Given these reasons, more and more clients are turning towards digital. We see regularly now, either digital leading the marketing ways for the client and the mainline coming in, to fill the small gaps, or brands going fully digital in their marketing.

From the time when digital marketing was slide 74 of an 80-slide pitch deck, we have clearly come full circle.

But with clients telling their creative agencies that they want to see more digital in their proposals, the traditional agency folks also attempt to offer digital ideas from their end. Unfortunately, in most cases these are digital only in namesake, and this is the essence of this piece.

The typical “digital” solutions that traditional advertising folks bring, and which are not really digital, include:
• Still creating a TVC like film, but putting it out on digital platforms,
• Since TV-sized media costs are not involved, coming up with a long video, for digital. The so-called long format brand storytelling. Yes, that may also generate larger billings for the creative agency, but seriously, in an attention-starved world, doing a brand advertising film over 9 minutes or 15 minutes or whatever, is what kind of wisdom??
• Doing a creative and placing it blindly on digital avatars of the same media channels, where traditional advertising was being placed. While I don’t question the strength of platforms like timesofindia.com and the like, giving no thought except to just put your “digital film” on some such portals for one and all to see, like you bought a canvas on the print publication, is hardly a “digital thought”!

But for lack of a deeper understanding of the medium (and I say this no disrespect, just a matter of fact statement to represent a different experience that the folks come with), the above is the kind of minimalistic “digital” ideas that the traditional creative agencies tend to come up with.

The fact though is that, these are “barely” digital as ideas, and in reality, the medium provides so much more, in terms of opportunities to be far more effective in advertising.

While this piece is not about exhaustively listing out what digital advertising IS, I especially wanted to highlight what it is NOT! And to showcase just a few of the deeper aspects that can go into your digital advertising effort, here are few things that you can do when you plan a genuine digital campaign:

Slice-and-dice: you can plan your strategy and creative, as per the multiple consumer personas that you have. Digital is far from being a one-size-fits-all. The better the relevance of the communication, the more effective it can be. However, this takes a lot of effort in terms of deeply understanding the TGs and planning the right strategy for each.
Extending the story: where a TVC campaign ends with the film generally (or there may be the typical “Facebook contest” that happens for a little while, as an additional excuse of having gone ‘digital’!), a good creative idea (film or otherwise) on digital, does not have to stop with the film. The brand can continue to engage the audience across multiple formats, ensuring each time that they are taking the conversation forward, to the point that they lead the consumer to a purchase, and even thereafter, continue the post-purchase engagement, including customer service, for example.
It’s not just marketing, anyway: digital is not to be thought of as a means of marketing alone. Considering the extent of time that your consumer now spends on the Internet, digital is a means to have a continuous engagement with the consumer, across his entire brand experience journey. That needs a thought process beyond just marketing, and perhaps to include sales, customer service, loyalty, referral, etc.
In-the-moment-marketing: the realization that you can reach your consumer, just as he enters a mall where your store is located, on a Sunday morning, and position on his screen, that irresistible urge to walk into your store! And it may again not be something that gets fired to all the people entering the mall, but only selective ones, who, through their previous behavior, have been identified and acknowledged to be the best prospects for you.

There’s a lot more that digital offers, but the above examples were to give a glimpse of what digital marketing can be, and how putting a film on YouTube, or creating a humongous long format film for digital, is NOT digital marketing.

Maybe sometimes it is best to call in the experts to get it right!
-Authored by Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Mirum (Digital agency in JWT South Asia)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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