Ananya Saha
Nov 29, 2013

Double standards: Digital media: Better for response than branding?

Ashok Lalla, global head - digital marketing, Infosys, and Somprabh Singh, marketing head - Titan, tell Ananya Saha that digital can lend itself to brand building too.

Ashok Lalla (L) and Somprabh Singh (R)
Ashok Lalla (L) and Somprabh Singh (R)

Is digital media more suited for response-driven campaigns than brand building?

Ashok Lalla: It actually works for both. One cannot realistically expect a response if a brand building layer is missing. Many brands take the ‘promo’ route of giving freebies to drive response. That really is a bad tactic as it only attracts contest junkies who are after the freebie, and does nothing for the brand.

The very nature of digital being measurable is what drives brands to seek responses from campaigns. But the deployment is what determines the efficacy of the response, and therefore the real success of the campaign.

Somprabh Singh: I would say that for a response-driven campaign, digital is the best medium. Digital is a two-way communication medium but it is not good only for response-driven campaigns. It can certainly help you to build brands. The recent campaign from Google is a very good example of how it is doing brand building through the digital medium, and they have chosen only that medium (to start with).

Most of Titan’s digital campaigns are not response-driven, and are aimed at building the brand.

Does it have the potential to become a lead medium for societal or behavioural change?

Ashok Lalla: In the near to middle term I should say ‘no’. That’s because real societal changes or behavioural changes take more than signing an online petition or outraging on Twitter. It takes a change in attitudes and real behaviour on-ground. Also, in an Indian context, the digital actives are still a small percentage of the population, and as we know real change will only happen when the larger populace gets involved.

There was a joke sometime back on Twitter  that while people talk of the impact of social media chatter, in reality that chatter could not even influence the selection of India’s nominee for the Oscars!

Somprabh Singh: It can become a lead medium, especially social media, because of the fact that you can interact. Social media is a very good aggregator. Whether it will actually change people is a different thing but at least it can create conversation amongst many people at one time. Campaigns on TV and other media may not succeed since they are not two-way mediums.

Without mass media support, can digital media act on its own?

Ashok Lalla: Examples of successful large digital engagement campaigns usually all have a strong 360-degree support from other media channels. That said, we are seeing examples of digital media driving interest and becoming the trigger behind which other elements of a campaign follow. This though is dependent on the product category and the audience segment, and naturally the more digital the audience segment, the better the chances for digital to be more effective.

Somprabh Singh: Yes, certainly. It is a notion that digital is not mass media. The definition of mass media is changing. Talking from a consumer perspective, digital can be as mass as a brand wants it to be, especially because of the growing internet penetration. Brands, however, hesitate to use it as a mass medium. Titan has used digital as the only medium for our campaigns. You can sharply focus on the consumer you wish to target and the extent of wastage is very less. It can be used as a mass medium, and a very effective mass medium.

Can a digital campaign carry on to convert into an offline campaign at a later stage? How can marketers use it to drive sales offline?

Ashok Lalla: Certainly yes. If the reference is to using digital to drive an audience to an offline event, then too it plays a role. With the growth of mobile-web and location-based marketing, digital is starting to play a role in driving footfalls into retail stores as well. And store-level mobile promotions are helping drive sales too. Even social media check-ins like Foursquare are being tapped by brands to drive purchase and referral. So used smartly, digital can influence sales.

Somprabh Singh: Anything can begin online and be taken offline. The choice lies with the brand. Titan’s Ducati campaign, for instance, was largely digital. The people who bought it had seen it only online, apart from walk-ins who bought it. The ‘likes’ on our products on FB page help us decide on the next offline campaign about which watch should be featured. Most of our co-creation with our fans happens because everything is generated online and then we take it offline.
Google’s digital commercials can easily go on television. The offshoot of the three-and-a-half-minute ad can very easily be taken offline. Online helps the brand to create a lot of buzz. Our recent Tanishq campaign generated a lot of buzz on the net, much like HTSE digital campaign.

Campaign India