Since this is the last blog of the year by yours truly, I thought it apt to speak about the year that was. Though the year was not as good as I had hoped for it to be, I do believe that the year has been pretty decent for the digital space and what is heartening to see is that it’s ending on a high which is a good start for the New Year to follow.
I think Time Magazine had it bang on when they announced ‘The Protestor’ as the Time Magazine person of the year 2011. The protestor found a voice that would be heard (and acted upon) by millions. Even Google Zeitgeist 2011 started off with the protestors and I personally believe if it had not been for the digital medium, such a consolidated support shown for causes would have not been a topic of conversation worldwide. In India, Anna Hazare pretty much led from the front as far as a national cause is concerned (and is still battling it out). Interestingly we also saw localised protests that made it big nationally (and also gathered support internationally). The Keenan Santos & Reuben Fernandez brutal murder gave rise to a cause of a different kind that got the youth of the country stirred up which eventually led to a heavy coverage by national news networks.
On the brand promotions side, we had a lot of them talking social media (which is an obvious move) but none of them wanting to loosen their purse strings to go the extra mile. A lot of brands concentrated on acquiring more fans on their fan pages on Facebook, but almost none of them had a plan to engage them. Let’s hope that the next year brands concentrate more on engagement rather than fan acquisition. The good sign is that most brands now see the importance of the social media marketing and are spending more time and money on understanding the space. Online Relationship Management also took precedence and most companies have agencies/specialists supervising the same for them. Websites and digital presence witnessed a change in technology too as a lot of websites opted to go device agnostic and wherever possible brands started using HTML5 to supplement Flash. Since there are still a fair bit of limitations in HTML5 (and browser compatibility issues), Flash will not be going out of fashion anytime soon.
I was hoping to see a healthy dose of innovations this year but I guess no brand was willing to take the risk in investing in something new. In India, we tend to have a very safe approach with most mediums of advertising where most brands are not willing to invest in an innovation if it’s not been tried and tested and is backed with statistics of it doing good on the investment made. Unfortunately, in this case you lose the first mover advantage and will be eventually deemed as a me-too (unless of course you can outdo the original). Take flash mobs as an example. Digital (and promotion) agencies have been trying to sell this idea to a lot of brands for the longest time. No takers. Now imagine a brand doing the CST flash mob. That brand would have been sitting pretty with close to 2 million views (and that is just from the official video) and free PR from others recording the same along with news channels, telecasting the same. I do believe that flash mobs are not necessarily the most effective method of advertising in a country that is a living breathing flash mob 24/7. But, a well-planned one does have its benefits and we should keep in mind that a flash mob does not need to be a song and dance routine only. It can be whatever you want it to be, just make sure you synchronise the effort, else it might end up looking like this Epic Delhi Fail.
And how can one end a summary of the year that was without mentioning Kolaveri. Post this release, almost every brand (and film) now asks for a viral video and hopes to generate the same kind of success like the ‘Tamilish’ video did. It was the first breakout video out of India to truly go viral. With about 25 million views since its launch a month ago and numerous versions from regional (Gujarati, Marathi) to topical (Sharad Pawar Slap-gate) to Sonu Niigam’s son and now the latest ‘Tom and Jerry’ version, this one seems to have hit the right formula on what kind of video makes a good viral. Not all videos are destined to become viral videos. I think the fact that his video was in English (complemented by the subtitles) and the might of the Sony Network were the two prime reasons that made for the reach and popularity of the video. But most importantly it was the content. For a video to be viral the content of the same should be either really bad or really good, there can be no in-betweens. Personally, I did not like the video/song at all, and that falls perfectly in the good viral video bracket. Video consumption is on the rise and we will see a healthy dose of video content on the internet. ‘The Dewarists’ did a good job by creating some excellent content that uses the vector of music to further its cause. It is estimated that by 2013, 90% of the content consumed online and 60% of the content consumed on mobile will be video. So expect a lot more in this space.
The next year I am going to put my head on the chopping block and predict a few trends that we should expect in the digital space. I will also be reaching out to colleagues in the space and share their views on what they believe will make a digitally enhanced 2012.
Here’s wishing all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Very Prosperous New Year.
Carlton D’Silva is the creative director at Hungama Digital Media and has spent over 15 years in the digital space. He takes insult when you call the digital medium new media…15 years should be old enough! Find him on twitter@TheWordOfGawd