Campaign India Team
Jan 14, 2009

The Internet audience cannot be ignored

As the slowdown squeezes marketing budgets, is the Internet the one medium that will find it easy? Is this the medium that marketers will turn to, will experiment with, thanks to the low risk involved?

The Internet audience cannot be ignored

As the slowdown squeezes marketing budgets, is the Internet the one medium that will find it easy? Is this the medium that marketers will turn to, will experiment with, thanks to the low risk involved?
The IAMAI, Pinstorm and the Lintas Media Group put together a panel discussion to discuss the state of affairs. The round-table, christened “Marketing through the recession: Pay -for-performance advertising the silver bullet?” attracted a small audience. Surprising, considering the relevance of the subject under discussion. Campaign India spoke to the panelists to bring you a ring-side view of the deliberations.

Lynn de Souza,  chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group

On the categories likely to increase their spends online:

The big spenders in digital have always been financial services and travel. Both these are the ones that have been hit the most, they are the ones who will have to step up their digital spends the most. Fortunately for them, the medium is doing very well. They will not be able to afford to be on TV, with no positive return. They will not pull back on digital, since the medium is growing, they will continue.

You will see more FMCG advertising online. This sector is one that’s not planning to cut back. They are looking for accountable, action oriented measurable performance. They will demand it from the big media as well, but they will move into the online space, in a bid to engage deeper with consumers. I see it already happening with my clients. To some extent, automobiles will also spend more online. Last year, in the US, for example, the automotive sector was consistently losing ground. Spends in mass media dropped, with a dramatic shift to the digital space. There is a lot of learning from that and given that most of the advertisers in India are international, they are likely to follow.

On the Planning challenges in the digital medium:
In the digital space, you don’t have the kind of independent target group specific data that is there for other media. You know what your campaign delivers in terms of head count. There is no target group specific data, no site specific data, no ratings data. Right now the metrics
are all pertaining to the campaign itself; did it deliver, what are the impressions etc. But how do you plan for it, to begin with? That’s the biggest hurdle.

Rajiv Prabhakar, vice president-retail business, Sharekhan.

On whether clients understand how to use this medium?
I think it is picking up fast. Internet as a medium has picked up fast since last so many years. That’s an audience you can’t ignore, especially in the urban area. All clients have an urban sector target audience to cater to. I think more and more people are spending money and more and more clients understand the medium. For some people who have not started spending money, it’s just a matter of time. Talking from a broking company perspective, financial services is one of the leading spenders.

Is there an unreal expectation of the medium's measurement?

I think somewhere it has always been measured. Any money that goes into marketing, whether you are spending on TV, print, you start out with an objective. It could be in terms of building awareness, building reach. Similarly for Internet, the definition of your performance can be different. You can use this as a reach, response capturing medium. It’s got more use for response capturing. That’s why we are discussing so much about leads. But it can be used to get the consumers engaged in different manners. There are definite advantages.  Ultimately everything gets evaluated on a performance basis.

Debadutta Upadhyaya, national sales head, Yahoo!

On whether clients understand how to use this medium?
I think we need to make an effort. Clients do understand that digital is a medium thy need to engage with, they need to proportionately put money behind it. In terms of an overall understanding, in terms of what the medium can deliver, what are the engagement point, that is a little bit of an understanding that I wouldn’t say most of the advertisers have. That is where we come into the picture in terms of raising the bar. I wouldn’t say that they don’t understand, I would say it’s more an onus on us to make them understand what this medium can deliver. I think I would leave it at that more than saying if they understand or not.

Is there an unreal expectation of the medium's measurement?

May be the expectations for measurability are set by us in the market. So we haven’t gone back and told them as to what all can be deliver beyond leads and clicks. That is where the industry is making an attempt to go ahead and put that education part in the advertisers. So that is something that’s already being worked upon.

Pradeep Shrivastava, chief marketing officer, Idea Cellular

On whether their marketing team/agency have enough knowledge to create "creative campaigns" for the Internet?

It’s been a challenge for us. And it had become increasingly important to dedicate experienced and quality resource within the company; to have aligned and very clearly identified resource at our media agency who have fluency, expertise and understanding to interact in the digital space. This is what has helped us decide, at least, the level and scope of investments that we could make on digital space. Admittedly, it’s at an experimentative stage at his juncture, but at least we know whatever little money that we are spending there is something which is on a defined parameter and is giving a defined return for us.  You require (creative) people with a certain amount of fluency in this medium. Several years ago, when we were exploring the space, we had very tech savvy people, who were unfortunately living in their own little world and there were worldly wise people who didn’t understand even the language being spoken. You require both in your agency as well as your organization with understanding and expertise in this area. We have taken some solid small steps in this direction, but its happening.

Mahesh Murthy, founder, Pinstorm

On whether there is a need to find an efficient way to educate advertisers?
I think the advertisers, more than being educated about the medium; know what they want as results. They have a huge need for accountability. I think the medium can go to them and say this is how we are accountable. If the media doesn’t offer accountability, the advertisers will not stand it. I think all the media need to go and tell the advertisers that this is how we will be accountable to you, here is how we can further your marketing needs. The advertisers already know that they want accountable media. Both the publishers and the agency need to do go to them and talk. 

Campaign India

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