Perspective | Digital advertising is passe, social engagement leading to good mullah?!

If you are worried about your folk’s friend request on a social media website, get over it. Today families bond over Instant Messaging platforms, our young sisters and older aunts learn fashion rules and cook fabulous American-style apple pie by watching videos on YouTube and our fathers now have the ease of catching up online, their favourite show or game they missed out the last weekend! Well, clearly, the world is ‘going digital’. The boundaries between real and virtual world is increasingly blurring and the bridge between online consumers and offline consumers is decreasing everyday as digital marketing is becoming the tool for every marketer. As more and more people are logging on the web through every medium possible, more brands are joining the bandwagon to make their presence online. Traditional advertisements are created thinking whether or not it would be shared online. Word-of-mouth now happens more on digital platforms like Social Media and Mobile.

Digital world is on the cusp of finally becoming the leaders in brand building. Brands are becoming social and digital in attitude as well as in using the media. There are now movements rather than just simple campaigns. All this has meant that brands have to use different tools and give up on the tenets that they hold dear.

We at Adgully spoke to some industry personals, like Anuj Kumar, Co-Founder, ED & MD, Ripple, Affle Group; Rameet Arora, Senior Director Marketing, McDonalds India; Ekalavya Bhattacharya, Head Digital, MTV India; Priya Jayaraman, Co-Founder & Business Director, Propaganda India, Preethi Mariappan, ECD, Razorfish Germany and Seeraj Katoch, COO, Tangerine Digital to know brands and their ‘digital first strategies’ and understand how profitable has this ‘social-media-engagement’ phenomenon for the brands in terms of sales and figures rather in terms of reach.

Kumar opined, “This clearly is a growing phenomenon and what is leading it is that technology has enabled people to engage more easily. Engagement with ads started with postcards, progressed to SMS and has now completely embraced social media. The ease of access and always on nature of social media makes is much easier for brands to drive engagement campaigns now.”

Arora believes that it is an amazing phenomenon and all marketers know that all their TG is tech-savvy and is quite effective on digital and social media. Hence tapping and enticing the customers on that medium is very essential for any marketer.

Mariappan opined that it is great way to reach out to any brand’s audience. “Today it is better to create that talk of engagement because nobody wants to see a pre-rolling add. We all wait for the skip button to come so that we can get rid of it. That is an act of forcing the customers but in case of engagement it is a mutual act which leads to good will and encouraging. The brands get to transform from such step”, she said.

Speaking on how ‘brand MTV’ has benefited this new ad-culture, Bhattacharya said, “It is simple evolution! As a youth channel and a youth brand we need to be present on every platform where our consumers present and our prospective consumers are headed to. It is just logic that we need to present on the web / digital world and it’s not just presence but more than that, as we are not the traditional brand which has something to sell. It’s not just mere marketing, but it is a way of life for us at MTV and hence it is engraved in our DNA; so whatever we do, has some level of digital inputs. As we understand your TG, mostly starting from the age of 12 – 13 years are born in the digital environment. While I had was born with a TV set in my house, but had to wait for the internet to come to my house, the generation we are catering to are born in homes having advanced computer systems, I-pads, tablets and smart phones which goes to say that they are not adopting to it, but it is a way of life them already. Thus we believe that this aspect helps them naturally connect better to this environment, while they continue consuming content across other media as well.”

Katoch feels that the digital world has opened up a whole new spectrum for brands to understand in real-time consumer opinions, reviews and campaign performance to name a few. "The earlier challenge for brands to derive patterns on historical data and then tweaking the strategy has been automatically solved with the advent of digital. Hence, I see this medium as a great disruptor where every day one sees a new marketing innovation. Moreover, a new trend that is fast emerging is use of digital activation in traditional marketing. And I see a great potential in this space," Katoch added.

“As a youth TV channel, we cannot say that we do not want to be present on these platforms and device out communication in that way. We need to understand that today, all consumers want to consume content on-the-go and thus we can’t be sticking to traditional means to communication,” Bhattacharya added.

In the last few years, all the marketers have been seen going gaga about social and digital media. We all have been hearing about the reason behind tapping the digital medium - to get connected with the consumers and build reach. But does the business run on reach? No, so the question here arises, how far have such engagement tools helped a brand not only in building reach but in terms of sales and growth as well?

In terms of how such engagement tools have helped his brands, Kumar said, “We have seen a lot of brands leveraging social engagements to meet sales objectives. One of the recent examples is the BJP where their entire social and digital marketing campaign was aimed at engaging the youth and driving conversations; while it achieved that objective, it finally helped convert the engagement to votes too (which is akin to a sale here) and for a lot of other brands too.”

Arora here told us that, though he is not sanctioned to share numbers, they have been able to track good sales. “Social engagement is good for any brand and what is good for a brand is good for its business too. A product like us has huge potential on digital media as we can tell masses about our new products, discounts and a lot more at a single team and which will surely give us good sales numbers. The growth has been double digit from this medium”, he said.

Jayaraman opined that social media/engagement is all a passé. It was a focus when the mediums were new. “The world has moved beyond just engagement today it’s all about what value can digital add to a brand and that should be a concern now. And now if engagement leads to value then it is good otherwise it’s time to re-think, innovate and excite. It is important for any step for any brand to add up in its sales. And actually if we see a lot of brands have bagged good number of sales after being talked about on digital medium.”

Mariappan told us that interestingly with the brands that she has worked on; the growth rate has been pretty high with social and digital engagement steps. “It has been close to 80 percent especially with Audi. While doing any activity for any brand we clearly discuss about the kind value and sales we should target and that are how we strategize our conversation of social media and digital.”

Bhattacharya said, “Coming down why we think it is more engagement and less advertising; it is primarily because people shun advertising. For example the most clicked button on YouTube is the ‘Skip Ad’ button! So that is the reason why engagement is about how your brand message gets across in the most subtle way; which is why MTV is now concentrating on branded content where we develop a brand within the content we offer. Also, we do a lot of web-based shows since on TV our content will be about 98% Hindi and 2% English while on the web it is the other way round. For us, digital is omnipresence where our strategy is not just informing via a digital activity, but offering our content right there on your phone, tablet or PC. This would obviously get more balls which would in-turn bring in more money!”

Being an avid digital marketer, Kotch has been working for this medium from quite some time now. "Real-time engagement through the likes of Facebook and Twitter certainly helps in increased sales and growth. However, many brands are still at a stage where they are happy with growth in likes and followers. I think unless brand does not start designing their digital strategy from business objective, they will not be able to close the loop. However, we already have many case-studies such as Starbucks and Dell who have reaped business benefits by aligning digital needs to business goals”, he added.

Kumar believes that every campaign has its unique objectives and both brand building and engagement driven campaigns would always co-exist. ‘If the scenario be this way then going further down the line the reach at some point might decrease and then what the brands will do, that is still a debatable question”, he stated.

But what surely remains a fact is that social / digital / real-time engagement not only tracks and builds good reach but if used correctly it results in better mullah too...!!!!


 

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