“With over 35 percent of our population below the age of 20, it’s the age of the millennials. It is expected that youth population in India will reach 464 Million by 2021. This highly desirable audience continues to evade stereotypes – for good reason. Millennials are evolving, maturing, and most importantly, fragmenting. They are a mobile-first generation, and their media consumption habits are more online than offline.” Stated Anshuman Saha, India Sales Head, Exponential Interactive.
In this interview, Anshuman divulges the facts about the digital marketing in India and how marketers are and should change their views on the so called ‘new media’.
Here is the Q&A…..
1. Tell us more about Exponential’s footprint in India. What can we expect in the coming months?
Exponential is a global provider of advertising intelligence and digital media solutions to brand advertisers. We operate in 22 countries worldwide, reaching more than 450 million unique users every month. In India, we’re the second largest ad network – we reach 35 million unique users monthly.
We are progressively working towards improving our global and local publisher partnerships, developing responsive creatives on VDX, improving cross platform reporting for better analysis of media spends, and integrating our offering with mobile attribution companies for better optimization of CPD/CPI campaigns. We’re also looking forward to introducing AERO, our game changer dynamic behavior optimization technique, to the market.
2. Tell us more about the launch of VDX, and the offering in India. What differentiates Exponential from other players in the market?
At Exponential, it’s about finding the right audience and reaching them with video across multiple screens. VDX or Video Driven Experiences are new formats that effortlessly deliver video to audiences and have been developed with the ultimate purpose of providing consumers with an immersive brand experience.
VDX builds on the advantages of television and video ads, enriching them with the benefits of digital advertising. This includes things like targeting consumers who are the most relevant to a brand.
We’re very excited to roll out VDX in India and it is available in the country across media from inpage display to mobile (tablet and phone) and in-stream. This will help advertisers in India ensure consistency across devices as well as full brand immersion. In addition, VDX leverages our audience platform, introducing a hyper-granular level of audience targeting which is not generally available with TV ads.
Together with offering advertisers high impact rich media ad formats like VDX, Exponential offers advertisers value by providing a range of campaign metrics to measure ROI such as impressions, engagement rate, post engagement behavior, video completion rate, post expansion CTR, CPM, cost per engagement & cost per view.
3. Why is VDX significant? What are some behavioral changes that you have observed in Indian society, which drive the need for a solution like VDX?
With over 35 percent of our population below the age of 20, it’s the age of the millennials. It is expected that youth population in India will reach 464 Million by 2021. This highly desirable audience continues to evade stereotypes – for good reason. Millennials are evolving, maturing, and most importantly, fragmenting. They are a mobile-first generation, and their media consumption habits are more online than offline. To truly engage with Millennials, we need to take a closer look at how they experience the world and some insights that come to mind include – Millennial consumers are more demanding: Millennials not only seek better control over privacy, but want to shape their “digital self.” As digital profiles have become key to consumers’ lives, it is important for the younger generation to control their personal online narrative.
The new age consumer also looks for recommendations, not just based on things they like or activities they’ve done, but experiences that give them the option to move outside their comfort zone. 48 percent of consumers in the online space expect brands to know them and help them discover new products or services that fit their needs. The cultural shifts we are witnessing show a move where people want all aspects of their lives to be rich and full. This means that brands will have to work harder to meet consumers’ demands and expectations.
“Real” is no longer synonymous with “offline”: Technology today is able to offer more complete, more engaging and more sensory digital experiences. Consumers seek enhanced experiences that are frictionless when moving between digital and physical worlds. While ecommerce and m-commerce is on the rise in the country, search influenced offline sales for the same period is estimated many times higher. Search on web and mobile is on the rise as well and consumers are certain to carry out a search sometime in the buying process. Mobile and being connected all the time has fundamentally changed the consumer’s path to purchase.
Increased Video consumption: The latest ComScore Video Metrix report shows that total online video consumption has doubled in the past two years to 3.7 billion videos per month. This dramatic growth has been driven by a sizeable increase in the number of online video viewers, in addition to increasing consumption per viewer. India now boasts 240 million strong connected audiences across both desktop and mobile, with over 70 per cent of the user base consuming online video content. Mobile video is really only just starting out – it is going to be another game changer in the way we connect with audiences.
4. What are three biggest trends that you think will shape the digital marketing industry in India in the year to come, and what are some of the biggest challenges we face in this growth?
What does marketing look like when the Internet surrounds us like the air that we breathe? It’s fascinating to think about. Digital is truly shaping the way marketers approach communications and is also reshaping customer expectations. Three trends for India are:
The use of integrated marketing strategies: As screens are getting smaller, our attention span is diminishing. In this world, what matters most is the context for consumption: the sit-back environment of TV, the lean-forward nature of desktop or the mobility of the smartphone. What advertisers need is a way to record, aggregate and segment data to form individual user-based ad experiences.
It would be a sort of user-based experience where we’re served ads on any screen and where ads are served sequentially to build a narrative that takes people from awareness to purchase. The ideal digital strategy should be integrated across desktop, mobile, and more traditional media such as TV, print and radio.
The industry needs to make a conscious effort to bring different marketers together to collaborate across screens and channels to deliver one experience to customers, wherever they are in the decision making process. There could be different calls to action on different screens. This is how advertisers can reach niche audiences at scale.
The power of glance: Marketers have faced a shift in the length and format of content. The Tweet, for example, forced us to tell our stories in less than 140 characters or less. Today, video and imagery is taking center stage and forming the building blocks of great content together with the written word. This makes just one glance just as powerful in shaping consumer behavior. Savvy marketers use native advertising to blend different types of content and formats depending on the audiences they target. The best advertising should be frictionless, appearing at the right time to the right person.
Pre-eminence of mobile data: Clickstream data simply misses too many elements of the consideration and purchase process, and gives attribution benefit to social media, word of mouth, and traditional media/advertising. Today’s smartphone-equipped consumers can take actions in the moment in a way that can be directly attributed to the medium that drove the action, without friction. Mobile data can unify online and offline activities, providers marketers a whole picture of consumer behavior. This is allowing, digital marketers to move away from channel-based thinking and towards a more behavior-centric model
However, we also know that India is a complex market with different levels of economic development and infrastructure across the country.
One of the biggest barriers to the growth of digital advertising in India is are probably the low levels of literacy. The numerous local languages also make targeting difficult. However, the use of pictorial formats and video can help overcome these issues.
Another challenge we face is the measurability of online media. Budgets allocated to digital are far lower than traditional media buys because quantity is still being preferred by some advertisers, over quality. Because of our ability to track digital with metrics such as views, clicks, visits, response rates, purchases etc., digital marketing is perceived as extremely ROI driven. At times, marketers fail to understand the premium that should be associated with quality over quantity.
5. How can the industry prepare for the future?
According to the annual Global Entertainment and Media Outlook from PricewaterhouseCoopers, India will be the fastest growth market for mobile Internet in the world by 2016. This is going to be a key driver in boosting digital media spend in the country and online budgets will shift from offline to online.
The industry needs to educate traditional marketers to treat digital marketing more holistically. Rather than purely focusing on ROI from digital campaigns, marketers must have a clear digital strategy starting from well designed and easy to navigate websites with specific call to action, effective website optimization, and accurate tracking mechanisms to validate attributions coming from different sources. It is also critical to have a strategy that differentiates between branding and performance campaigns.
The digital media industry in India today is also in need of an industry body, similar to Indian Broadcasting Federation or the Indian Newspaper Society, to safeguard the interest of online publishers and other digital stakeholders.