Professionals from both digital and traditional marketing came together to discuss the influence of internet in consumers' lives at the Digital Marketing Roundtable in Bangalore hosted by eBay India, in partnership with Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on Friday. The main highlight of the event was a panel discussion on the topic, ‘Harnessing the power of the web: For brand building and driving sales’.
The discussion spanned a range of topics, including how life had changed for marketers courtesy the web, whether they now need a digital strategy, the relevance of the web beyond metros, online transactions powered by digital media and evolution of business practices.
Ambareesh Murty, country manager, eBay India and vice-chairman, IAMAI, kickstarted the discussion, saying, "Today’s digital world has fulfilled a consumer’s need for reliable information. Consumers are having conversations about brands 24x7 with their friends, peer networks and even other network influencers. The question for a marketer is, can he afford to ignore the power of the web, without harming his brand?”
The panel unanimously agreed that there was no running away from the web, but there could be different ways of looking at how a company uses the web.
"One is investing in digital media, which would include brand building on the web. The other, is the use of web technology to further connectivity with the marketplace," opined Neeraj Chandra, VP and COO, Britannia Industries. When asked why big spenders like FMCG companies had not taken to digital marketing aggressively, Chandra said, "There is no 'must-have' about digital media yet. The marketer has to ask himself, 'What does digital media do for my target consumer?' It boils down to whether there is an opportunity for him and whether he is exploiting it. So, once shopping for groceries really picks up online, the big spenders will follow."
Aditya Nath Jha, head-global brand and communication, Infosys Technologies said that the web has given organisations an important reason to build conversations on the web and that the days of one-way messaging were over. "The web has indeed amplified consumers' voice. Typically, an organisation gives out a message and thinks it is the only one who controls it. But today, everybody apart from you (the marketer) has the ability to control the message. Having said that, e-commerce companies will have to separate the world of transaction from the world of conversation. Digital media is no longer just to advertise, but to have conversations."
Kiran Gopinath, founder and CEO, Ozone Media Solutions said, "The web has given brands a compelling reason to be more responsive to their customers. Therefore, it has given them reason to improve the quality of customer service and also shortened the time-frame within which it can react to a consumers' problems."
When asked what importance did the web have as a sales channel, Rahul Agarwal, executive director global marketing communications & hub, Lenovo said that there’s still time before India catches up with how some countries are shopping online. "It's not happening yet in India. However an area where we have made progress is in the fact that consumers are certainly looking online for information about products they want to buy. It’s also true that companies have realized that advertising online has brought down their cost per lead to one-third of what it used to be. But people still don’t have the confidence to buy a lot of product categories online yet."
Unni Radhakrishnan, national director-digital, Maxus said, "It is a reality today that the marketing department of a company is not the only part involved in marketing of the product. A key point that we tell clients these days is that merely having a good advertising strategy is not enough. For brand building, areas like PR, customer service, prompt redressal of complaints is equally important. That's where the businesses need to scale up."