'Digital is a very dangerous medium': Ashish Bhasin

The growth of mobile as a medium was the focus of a discussion involving GSK's Alok Agarwal, Kotak Mahindra Bank's Ambuj Chandna and DAN's Ashish Bhasin at an event organised by Facebook

Nov 01, 2017 11:13:00 AM | Article | Campaign India Team Share - Share to Facebook

Alok Agarwal, GM, marketing excellence, GSK Consumer Healthcare, Ambuj Chandna, head – retail liabilities, investments and payment products, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, spoke about the importance of mobile as medium for brands at a panel discussion organised by Facebook.
The discussion was moderated by Sandeep Bhushan, MD (interim), Facebook India and South Asia.
Bhushan set the context by stating how two million businesses now have Facebook pages.
He stated three trends and said they cannot be ignored.
· Mobile is disrupting media
· Mobile is disrupting commerce
· Mobile is disrupting experiences
He explained, “India is now mobile. People on mobile make judgments quickly. As consumers we are either buying or researching on our mobile. By 2020, eighty per cent of e-commerce sales will be made or affected by mobile.”
Bhasin then spoke about how mobile is ‘fundamentally impacting all businesses'.
He said, “Today, digital is becoming equivalent to mobile. I’d say 100 per cent of the businesses are affected by mobile.”
One such business of which he gave an example was the movie industry.  He explained, “While I may still pick the movie I want to watch using The Bombay Times, the tickets are booked using Bookmyshow. My son uses the mobile to figure which movie he wants to watch by reading reviews online. He even pre-books his popcorn online using the phone. Movies have nothing to do with the mobile and are yet influenced by it. The consumer is currently leading and we (clients and agencies) are playing catch up.”
He added, “When I started my journey at Dentsu Aegis Network, I read a competitor’s report pegging digital at 4 per cent (of all ad spends). Now people are saying it’s contributing 15 per cent. For DAN, almost 40 per cent of our revenues are from digital. I’ll be unhappy with my team by 2019 if we don’t get half our revenues from digital. By 2022/23, we’ll see digital spends being more than half of all media spends.”
Kotak’s Chandna gave a banking perspective and explained how the mobile is gaining currency.
He said, “I think till about 14-15 years ago, the only way of transacting was by physically going to a bank. Now, almost 50 per cent of our audience is using digital to transact. What’s interesting is that most people believe that the mobile era is for those below the age of 20. The people making transactions are above that age. Within the digital cosumers, 60 per cent of the audience uses only the mobile to transact.”
Talking about the recent 811 campaign and how it helped Kotak, he said, “We got 30 per cent growth in two quarters and moved from 8 million to 10.5 million users.”
He added, “Traditionally we were on Facebook because we needed to be where consumers were. Now, we are seeing a different marketing funnel emerge. We have increased our Facebook spends by 40 times. We create campaigns on the fly and have good data to see what is working and what isn’t.”
Agarwal of GSK Consumer Healthcare spoke about how FMCG companies have also moved spends to digital, because that’s where their customers are.
He said, “Typically digital was male skewed. Now, we’re seeing women on the medium too. So brands that follow women have to be there on digital too. We have figured that if we use Facebook in addition to our television campaign, we get 60 per cent more reach and 17 per cent more consideration. That’s what we are able to do with digital. As consumers use more digital, brand spends are following too.”
Mobile and capability
Bhushan then asked the panel about India’s capability in the mobile space.
Bhasin responded, “In my organisation, a lot of digital tools developed by our team in India have been used across offices in as many as nine markets. Capability development isn’t an issue. When money flows, Indians find ways of doing things.”
He then called for a common measurement metric for videos by saying, “There has to be a common measurement metric. An ad has to be seen three to eight times to be effective. Lesser than three doesn’t grab the eyeballs and more than eight is seen as a waste. We have to move away from TV planning to video planning. So there has to a common agreed measurement metric to see how many times the visual has been seen on TV and Facebook. Imagine a vegetable market selling in different currencies. The buyer will run away from there. I’m confident we’ll manage to get that measurement.”
Agarwal added, “Facebook allows you to segment and target. That’s the power of the digital medium. It helps positioning in the most appropriate way. You can use this end-to-end.”
Bhasin then gave an example of how British Airways’ response to Sachin Tendulkar got the brand negativity on digital and how McDonald’s recently used the medium to their advantage.
He surmised, “Digital is a very dangerous medium. If you handle it well it’s great. Else you’re in trouble.”


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