Ad:tech, the international international advertising and technology conference, made its India debut at The Leela Kempinski in Gurgaon on April 27, 2011.
Day one of the two-day event saw back-to-back sessions, taking on the status of digital advertising and communication in India.
The first keynote session was by Babs Rangaiah (pictured), vice president – global communications planning, Unilever. He stated, “Digital is the invention of our times.” The important thing was to re-frame the channel, much like was done with radio in the 1920s in the US when the first heavyweight championship was broadcast as a break from the medium being used purely for news. Rangaiah said the Axe Call Me campaign, attempted to do this.
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Rangaiah emphasised that employees really need to live the space themselves to be able to work on it. This would give them the imagination to re-frame the channel.
The other big thing was consumers wanting to express themselves creatively, and thus, getting them involved in brand building. He added, “We also need to re-think the channels that exist and how we use them. TV isn’t quite over in India. However it’s just a matter of time before the digital leapfrog happens and we will have to have one campaign across different channels. The centre doesn’t have to be the TV spot.”
Other notable points Rangaiah made were about how women were also a part of the gaming community and that social media isn’t just something that should be confined to marketing, but should include IT, corporate communications, legal and crisis management at the same table, to represent the voice of the brand as the core team. He also spoke the importance of data in the new digital scenario. “Data is the new oil,” he said. “The key to the future is to partner with the right companies and harness data and market right to consumers.” Those partners would include creative, media, PR and digital. “Nothing can be done in silos,” he said. “You need to get agencies to work together to bring everything to life.”
Lastly, Rangaiah concluded with the thought, “To re-frame, re-imagine what is possible, what opportunities are out there and what we can do to be really great.”
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The next keynote presentation was by Elisa Steele, chief marketing officer, Yahoo!. She started off her session with the thought, “Change is a source of fear, but you can also use change as a chance to lead.”
Steele said that India was still quite far behind in terms of advertising that understood digital media, with digital accounting for only 4% of the industry. She also concurred with Rangaiah’s point, that a large part of good digital advertising depended on the diverse talent that worked together. “Get people who are immersed deeply in science and others who understand data to make digital effective,” she said, adding that marketers need the support of sales, operations, and the product teams to fulfil the brand promise.
Steele’s marketing mantra was 3 Ds: Differentiation, Distribution and Decision - Making to make the brand distinctive. “It’s important to find a balance between data and insights and going with your gut,” she urged.
The first panel discussion Campaign India attended was on “Agency Remuneration Models”. Moderated by Manish Vij, founder of Vun Network, it had Vikram Sakhuja, chief executive office, GroupM Southeast Asia, Sameer Suneja, managing director, Perfetti Van Melle India, and Anjali Hegde, chief executive officer, Interactive Universal. Sakhuja said, “The common rule is to pay for cost of services with a fair margin and cover them in gold for value added.” He also said that digital is also given to juniors in the marketing department, versus being a conversation that was held with the head of the company. Hegde said the main problem for digital agencies was that far more highly trained people were needed than at creative agencies, and a huge amount of effort went into executing a plan, which needed to be considered in the remuneration model. Suneja was of the view that even on digital, clients and agencies should work as partners. Clients may not want AORs in the beginning of their digital foray, but would convert to that when they were ready for a long term commitment. He also questioned, “How many national creative directors are used to digital?” When the discussion switched to Procurement, Sakhuja said, “Digital isn’t that evolved as yet, procurement can kill it, rather than grow it.”
The next panel discussion was on “Justifying the digital budget in a marketing campaign”. Moderated by Mindshare’s Madan Sanglikar, the panellists were Kiran Gopinath, founder and chief executive officer of Ozone Media, Ravi Kiran, former chief executive officer of Starcom MediaVest South Asia, Hitesh Oberoi, managing director and chief executive of Info Edge India, and Sandeep Vij, chief executive officer of DDB Mudra. Kiran started by saying, “The biggest enemy of marketing as a discipline is the silo mindset. The second reason for the struggle is an over- obsessive focus on input rather than outcome.” Oberoi asked, “Why spend on an ad
in newspaper when the consumer isn't reading it?” Gopinath asked about the point of putting ads online, when brands weren't selling online. Oberoi said that while digital is used for consumer acquisition, lead generation and nowadays for e-commerce, brand building on digital has not been successful in India so far. Vij cited the Pepsi Refresh project as an example of ongoing brand building in US, adding that in India, ET and Axe are making an effort. Kiran summarised the discussion, “Every brand has a task, understand it in right manner and how each medium feeds into the other.”
The third panel discussion was on “Transformation of Digital Publishing”. Moderated by Prashant Mehta, chief executive officer of Komli Media, it had Nellie Chan of Wall Street Journal, Maya Hari, head of Internet and Mobile at Conde Nast Digital and Rishi Khiani, chief executive officer of Times Internet as panellists. Khiani began by talking about how the The Times of India’s news delivery cycle had to be changed to cater to web first and print after that. Hari spoke of Conde Nast’s strategy of creating content that was often unique to the mobile and the iPad and different from what appeared in the magazines. She also said premium and luxury advertisers were excited about the new platforms. Khiani said, “Social media facilitates news gathering and is an indication of the quality of stories, depending on the number of times it is shared.” Hari and Khiani agreed Facebook was currently providing more referral traffic than Twitter. Talking about keeping editorial sanctity of the original publication intact, they both spoke of blogger networks created for Vogue and The Times of India which addressed the issues of involving their audiences further. Chan said at Wall Street Journal, the print, newswire and digital teams sit in an integrated newsroom.