The spotlight was set firmly on online advertising on September 24, 2010, at the 13th Digital Marketing Round Table, jointly hosted by the Internet & Mobile Association of India and ebay. The topic of discussion was "In-Store Advertising: The Online Avatar". The panel comprised Tanguy Peers (vice president - advertising, ebay inc), Ambareesh Murthy (country manager, ebay India), Peshwa Acharya (vice president & marketing chief, Reliance Retail Ltd), Ashutosh Tiwari (executive vice president – marketing, Godrej) and Jasmeet Gandhi (head – devices OPM & services marketing, Nokia India).
Globally, the online advertising industry is said to be worth 60 billion USD and e-commerce itself stands at 540 billion USD. Both are expected to grow at double digits. While a few of the pros of online advertising were about the kind of engagement it allows with the consumer, the convenience it provides the time-starved customer of today in urban metros and other cities where large format stores haven’t developed on ground, and its specific targeting of customers based on their history of search, it was also mentioned that the online industry still undersells itself in terms of its own potential. Tiwari cited the case of Godrej’s gojiyo.com, and how it managed to rope in a new generation of customers that had no sense of nostalgia for the brand.
The next exciting leap after online would be the mobile space was the consensus. Nokia’s Gandhi took note of how group buying websites were able to deliver deals of the day based on whichever city the mobile phone user was in, and said the future would really be about the mobile versus the search engine.
Later, we caught up with Peers and Kashyap Vadapalli (director – category and business development) to ask them about innovations being seen online and the Indian market in particular.
What kind of innovations exist in online marketing?
TP: Specifically, I was referring to the different formats. So you have text advertising which Google has launched that has proved to be very successful; traditional display advertising, and in that format, you have rich media like video that requires broadband, otherwise it will be too slow to load; you have new advertising like local advertising, which is geo-targeted (like only advertising for Mumbai when you’re in Mumbai), and in-store, where brands or the retailer advertise in an e-commerce environment - it’s like a store in store.
KV: If you look at the entire value chain that the consumer goes through when they’re making the purchase decision right from the point of awareness to desire to interest and action, when you’re talking about a medium like ebay, the entire value chain gets completed in one place. If I’m an advertiser and want to reach out to certain consumers, on ebay I can first get my message across, interact with them and once I convince them that my product is what they want, the actual sale can happen. I think what Tanguy was referring to was really taking advertising to the next level.
How critical was it to get on the iPhone and iPad?
TP: You have to move with the times for the customer if they’re asking for it. It’s a very different experience and it seems to very promising.
KV: The app makes the entire user interface so much richer and ebay has benefitted a lot from the iPhone and iPad apps in terms of the number of customers who’re interacting with the brand and the sales we’re able to log into the apps. Advertisers can also take advantage of the app and web platform on ebay.
How important is it for marketers to be online?
TP: Online has reached a critical stage. Not having an online campaign for Western Europe or the US when you’re launching your product is just inconceivable. 15 per cent of all advertising in the US is on the internet; in Britain it’s 20 percent. I think the next level will really be the mobile because then you can connect with a person 24x7.
What is the Indian ebay consumer's profile?
KV: In India, the break up in internet usage in terms of gender is about 80:20 [males to females]. On our site , it’s about 76:24. These people have displayed intent of purchasing online, so they’re obviously all comfortable with electronic payment mechanisms. They are above a certain income strata in terms of having access to means and they’re also above a certain educational level in terms of how they browse through the site. So it’s a very attractive consumer base, because it’s an action-oriented, aware, educated consumer base that has the disposable income.
Any plans to go into regional languages?
KV: This is not an ebay-related response, but in general on the internet, it’s the amount of contentthat you have available, let’s say in the vernacular languages, that will also drive internet usage. It’s a little bit of a chicken and egg situation. If you have enough of vernacular medium users, then I think vernacular publishers will come up, and in turn, they will bring on more users. At this point in time, the language that is most used on the internet is primarily English. As the market expands, most organisations will go where the market is.