Building a brand: Think big. Think long term.
Mukesh Agrawal, Co-founder, The Media Ant, on the importance of branding
In conversation with Mukesh Agrawal, Co-founder, The Media Ant on the importance of branding and why he feels it was vital in taking top advertisers like Flipkart and Amazon to the heights they are at today.
Today, what are your clients tilting towards – performance or branding?
We have a mix of clients who are looking at both --bottom of the funnel and top of the funnel marketing. Brands that have either raised around 10 million dollars or have around 75 crores of turnover, start moving towards brand building. Those at an earlier stage focus on performance but once they start getting the desired numbers, they turn to brand building, because without that the growth starts to plateau. Consumer-facing companies on the other hand start brand building from day one, the same goes for some of the traditional companies who are now coming up with their D2C products.
What platforms do companies focus on for brand-building efforts?
A lot of brands are now focusing on the digital medium for brand building, which includes OTT platforms. Then there are also the news platforms. There are many new brands that have used television as a medium.
You mentioned that OTT is an important part of the digital mix for brand building, can you elaborate on it
Certain consumer brands focus largely on OTT platforms because they now see that their target audience is available there. This shift has happened in the last two years. The credit goes to IPL and the pandemic because of which people have started consuming OTT in a big way. Today, there is no marketing campaign, which would leave out OTT. In fact, Disney+ Hotstar has become our go-to platform, they have invested in a lot of technology that gives the right solutions and that has led to the platform’s growth. They’ve been able to perform, especially with regards to giving us overall views. In most of our digital marketing campaigns, as long as there is a video element, Disney+ Hotstar is definitely there. As far as overall targeting is concerned, not many players in the same category are able to offer us the kind of filters which it does.
Can you give us some interesting case studies on how brands leveraged this digital platform?
The best part of OTT advertising is a lot of repeat campaigns. We largely deal with SME companies and not too many big brands. One of the success parameters becomes repeat campaigns on a specific platform. Especially on OTT, we've seen almost 60-70% repeat campaigns, which is a huge number and I have not seen that across any media platform, be it offline or online. So, OTT in that way has been fabulous. For instance, Giva, they started with spends of just three lakh rupees but went on to increase it by 10x now. I have seen a lot of brands who have expanded their presence on OTT in a big way and it is across categories--consumer products, education, fashion, etc. Without brand building, we wouldn’t have Flipkart or Amazon in India and without these two brands, we wouldn't have seen a spurt of so many startups in the country.
Where does the brand preference lie when it comes to OTT, sporting events or original content?
There are three categories of brands. The first one is always present on OTT, these brands are your regular advertisers who spend throughout the year, they target sporting events plus entertainment avenues. These include furniture brands like RoyalOak or FinTech companies like Upstox, Groww, or consumer products like Fortune, Bella etc. Then there are those with very limited budgets and thus would want to be very specific with their branding plans. As their marketing spends are not so high, they focus largely on non-sporting content. And then there's a third category, which only comes for sporting events and that number is also pretty huge. Some only come for IPL because of their connection with the league or the teams and because they want to keep associating with cricket.
In this era of Return On Ad Spends (ROAS), how do clients measure the impact of brand building efforts?
When they do brand building, they have to see how the brand uplift is happening, if their overall organic brand searches are going up on Google and other places, what's the expansion of their overall top of the funnel etc.
What would your advice be to companies who are evaluating branding as their next step?
The brand should think big and long term and not about two months, one quarter or six months alone. Brand managers should focus on the growth of the overall brand, over a period of two to three years. The focus should be on understanding how the brand can progress from year zero to year three, whether it’s in terms of sales or overall brand image in the market because branding does not help you just in sales. Today, branding also enables you to hire the right talent from the market and makes your organization very attractive. So my simple piece of advice would be ‘think big and long’. Whether it is traditional or new-age companies, pretty much all the brands that have grown tremendously have used branding.
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