29 February 2020 03:35

MediAvataar's News Desk

MediAvataar's News Desk

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While startups with millions of dollars’ worth funding and mega valuations may get most of the attention, the other few are typically on much leaner budgets. For these startups, arriving at a cost-effective, efficient budget is essential for the company’s survival. In the present era of internet-led business, companies are trying to optimize the various benefits digital marketing has to offer. Without a doubt, digital efforts have not only proved to be faster and efficient but also convenient for both businesses as well as customers.

But truth be told, digital efforts cost money, and with competition rising multi-fold, the consulting fees charged by leading agencies and independent experts only seems to be increasing. How about those who are operating on a tight marketing budget, though?

Here’s a guide for such brands, businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs to yield maximum benefits while on a minimum digital marketing budget.

1. Develop a Blog

The easiest and one of the best ways to market without paying for anything other than the hosting is to turn to blogging. In fact, if you possess enough knowledge pertaining to your sector, churning high-quality content and offering insights into the industry through the means of blog on your website will count as one of the free marketing alternatives you have accessible to you. The key here is to ensure that the content is relevant, posted consistently, and interesting enough to attract people to your site and turn them into potential customers. If there’s trouble reaching out to people at first, limit your focus to smaller audiences, start guest blogging, and initiate promotions on social media.

2. Careful Targeting

Good content, paid advertisements, community management, banners, SEO, and everything involved in digital marketing comes with a price tag. No single tool of digital marketing is ever absolutely free. However, if the budget is already tight, then spending money on reaching audiences that are not interested in the offered product or service is a complete waste of money. In this case, utilizing the power of social networks that offer substantial opportunities in terms of razor-sharp targeting, or in other words, narrowing down the population, can be a wise money-saving option.

Furthermore, many Google tricks and tools can come in handy – for instance, Google Analytics’ Smart Goals can help in showing ads to relevant people who are in need of the product or service you have to offer.

3. Try your Hands at PPC

Paid search marketing is commonly dismissed by digital marketers because of the belief that it doesn’t serve much of a purpose for those on leaner budgets. But in the case of PPC, there are no budget restrictions. In fact, the cost for a click and expense for a campaign or an ad can always be analysed and controlled. Similar to social media advertising, it’s possible with PPC to spend either a lot or a limited amount of money in a short span. However, considering the fact that PPC has a solid learning curve, it is something that one must not directly jump in with.

4. Build an Email List

Email marketing might appear like an outdated alternative at first glance, but in reality, it is still very much active and does offer a strong ROI. Email marketing still remains one of the easiest ways to connect with your target audience. Start by building up your email list, send people interesting content at regular intervals, and make a subtle yet visible placement of call-to-action buttons that can prove to be beneficial for your brand’s reputation along with conversion rates. Not to forget, narrowing down whom you want to reach out to and what kind of information is important, should hold the top-most position in your market segmentation strategy. A lot of money can be saved by carefully choosing the people who should see your ads and overall content in general.

5. Consider Working with Influencers

Micro-influencers and macro-influencers have taken over the digital industry in the last few years. Influencers may either be big celebrities or prominent bloggers. Whatever they are, the power of their reach must be optimally leveraged. This is by far the most affordable method of digital marketing on a limited budget because it typically costs nothing more than time. However, the key is to find the right influencer, and then, the possibilities are endless since you’d be targeting their pool of audience. Influencer marketing also helps in boosting brand name and enhancing brand reputation. Make sure you pick the influencers who are credible and respected in their field.

Budget, a Burden?

Forming a digital marketing budget is not a simple task. Agree or not, there are barely any fixed costs when it comes to digital marketing. In such a scenario, it’s hard to estimate the expenses needed for digital initiatives. That being said, the digital marketing budget should never be formed on the basis of previous year’s expenses, since it will lack the flexibility required to manage it effectively. So, the key is to not adapt to the “increase the digital marketing budget” approach but rather “spend smart on digital marketing” approach.


Authored by Shiraz Khan, Founder Director Spicetree Design Agency

Star Sports takes note of the overwhelming fan chatter around the 13th season of VIVO IPL; launches #KhelBolega TVC

The VIVO IPL fever caught on early this year with fan expectations and chatter pouring in months ahead of the start of the tournament; triggered further with the announcement of the schedule last week. In response to the heightened social media chatter that followed from fans who are questioning their heroes and team in the form of memes and comments; Star Sports, India’s leading sports broadcaster launched Khel Bolega, a TVC along with the BCCI.

Wearing their emotions on their sleeves each year die-hard fans stand by their teams and show up in droves hoping that each Season will be the year history is written. Royal Challengers Bangalore fans have waited for 12 seasons for their dynamic captain to end the drought and bring home the elusive trophy. Fans of Mumbai Indians want their swashbuckling captain to go beyond and break the jinx of just winning in odd numbered years. Whereas fans of Chennai Super Kings have waited long enough to watch their captain Thala or M.S. Dhoni on the cricket pitch again and hopefully lift the trophy this year.

Khel Bolega indicates that the coming season will clearly end the response to all the chatter (#BolBakar ) surrounding VIVO IPL when the player performances will speak for themselves – with the hashtag #KhelBolega, translated in English as – “The Game will do the Talking”. The performance by their favourite teams will also give fans a chance to silence all the #Bakar from opposing fans as well. The TVC, conceptualized by the in-house creative team of Star India, highlights the non-stop fan chatter and features plenty of colorful motifs and pop culture references symbolizing the pan India nature of the VIVO IPL. The fast-paced narration reflects the constantly changing chatter that develops around the VIVO IPL.

The film was released in multiple languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Bengali across TV and Digital and is a start to an integrated marketing communications campaign to the season. The 13th edition of the VIVO IPL will have an even bigger surround programming with specific fan-based content this year. Both non-live and franchise-based shows have been planned in the run up to the season, with special programming during the length of the tournament. Super Funday will also be back for VIVO IPL Season 13 with the show’s spotlight on kids’ who will have entertaining interactions with cricket experts and Bollywood celebrity guests.

The 13th edition of VIVO IPL which begins on March 29th, will be broadcast in multiple languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Bengali apart from English and #SelectDugout

Prabhat Choudhary takes over as business head

Reliance Entertainment has roped in noted marketing communications strategist, Prabhat Choudhary, to head World Wide Open (WWO), its in-house digital movie marketing & media buying arm.

World Wide Open is a digital marketing agency specializing in social media marketing & media buying for the film industry. Over the years, WWO has worked on digital campaigns of films like ‘Simmba’, ‘Golmaal Again’, ‘Veere Di Wedding’, ‘Super 30’, ‘Dear Zindagi’, ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’, ‘ Saand Ki Aankh’, ‘Rabta’, ‘Stree’, ‘Half Girlfriend’, ‘Parmanu’, and more. Besides being an agency on board for Reliance Entertainment, WWO has serviced production houses like Red Chillies Entertainment, Balaji Motion Pictures Limited, Maddock Films, Color Yellow, Sony Music India etc.

The agency is equipped to provide end-to-end digital marketing solutions including creative strategy, creation of media assets and inventory planning and buying and digital media planning and buying. In 2017, WWO was named the ‘Agency of the Year’ at the Asia Pacific Customer Engagement Forum and Awards (ACEF).

In 2019, the agency won the award for Best Interactive Piece of Content at Digies for the film, ‘Game Over’. WWO, known for its innovative marketing, launched the first-ever Target AR Filter in India and Bollywood, in print, for the film, ‘Super 30’.

Monday, 24 February 2020 00:00

Insights+ The coronavirus outbreak

China intensifies national drive to contain the epidemic

It remains uncertain when the outbreak of COVID-19 – the official new name for the coronavirus – will eventually peak. But China’s continually expanding steps to contain the virus do appear to be proving effective.

Last Friday, Chinese health authorities reported that the number of newly confirmed cases in mainland China – outside Hubei province – had declined for 10 consecutive days. Earlier, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that while the growth in cases had stabilized, it was critical to remain very cautious since the “outbreak could still go in any direction.”

This article provides an overview of the latest developments that companies should bear in mind – including the Chinese leadership’s evolving policy measures and appointment of new senior officials in Hubei province and Wuhan, the growing pressures on numerous sectors, the local media’s coverage of the epidemic, and deepening support from businesses for relief efforts.

As always, it concludes with key recommendations for management teams as they struggle to navigate the many risks presented during such difficult circumstances.

National agenda revolves around efforts to contain the epidemic

Managing the public health crisis is the overriding priority for China’s leadership; this means that containing the spread of COVID-19 now dominates the agenda for government agencies at all levels.

Last Friday, President Xi led a meeting of the Central Committee for Deepening Overall Reform where he called for strengthening the national management system for public health emergencies, emphasizing the importance of addressing shortcomings exposed by the current epidemic. He also stressed the important role to be played by digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing, in preventing and controlling such outbreaks. For instance, Chinese media have been reporting regularly on the deployment of high-tech solutions to help contain the virus – from disinfection robots in hospitals to drones spraying disinfectants at residential communities to a subway app launched by Beijing municipal authorities which allows local residents to quickly check passenger flows.

Earlier in the week, President Xi also presided over a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee which focused on containing the epidemic as well as ensuring economic stability and shoring up growth. Alleviating the challenges faced by businesses was a top priority, particularly for small- and medium-sized companies hit hard by the epidemic; a series of planned policy measures were discussed, including launching more targeted tax cuts, intensifying efforts to maintain employment, providing support for accelerating the production of foreign trade-oriented businesses, and more.

New local leaders appointed in Hubei and Wuhan

China’s central leadership also recently replaced the top local officials at the epicenter of the outbreak. Ying Yong, formerly the mayor of Shanghai, was appointed as the Party secretary of Hubei; Wang Zhonglin, previously the Party chief of Jinan, the capital of Shandong province, became the senior official in Wuhan.

The shakeup sent a strong signal about the gravity which Beijing views the epidemic as well as its determination to show the public how seriously accountability is taken within the political system.

Vulnerable sectors under growing pressure

The epidemic is already affecting a multitude of sectors to varying degrees; the ultimate impact on businesses will of course depend on how long the COVID-19 outbreak lasts.

But many major companies have continued to release warnings about their next-quarter performances. Global supply chains remain highly vulnerable to further disruptions, with thousands of factories in the world’s largest exporter yet to reopen. This is creating rising difficulties for many countries around the world, especially those which are among the most deeply embedded in Chinese supply chains, such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and South Korea.

Travel and tourism also count among the sectors hit hardest. Many international airlines have scaled back or halted altogether their flights to and from China; the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) projected that global airline revenues will drop by US$4 billion to US$5 billion in the first quarter of 2020.

The ongoing travel restrictions and flight reductions will have a deep impact on tourism – China ranks as the world’s leading contributor to global tourism numbers, with Chinese tourists making 150 million trips overseas in 2018. In the first quarter, the ICAO estimates that Japan and Thailand could lose US$1.29 billion and US$1.15 billion in tourism revenue, respectively, as a result of the abrupt fall in Chinese visitors.

And global luxury brands are particularly vulnerable. Chinese consumers are a huge force in the world’s US$300 billion luxury goods market, accounting for 35% of global spending as well as 90% of growth last year, according to a study by Bain & Company. The sector’s high exposure to China has meant that many fashion conglomerates continue to be heavily affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Kering Group, the owner of Gucci, Balenciaga, and other premium brands, has closed dozens of stores in China as consumers remain at home, while Estée Lauder has shut down around two-thirds of its stores in the market. Last week, Italian apparel brand Moncler said the number of shoppers visiting its China stores had plunged by 80%.

The cruise industry has also been contending with numerous cases of passengers being quarantined on ships after ports refused to allow them to disembark due to fears about infections. Global media have covered such controversies heavily, including those of the “World Dream” in Hong Kong and the “Diamond Princess” off the coast of Japan. Many cruise ship operators have been forced to cancel some sailings to destinations across the Asia-Pacific region.

For the auto sector, carmakers saw their China sales drop 18% to 1.94 million in January as concerns about the epidemic intensified. Last Friday, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) cautioned that new vehicle sales could fall by over 10% in the first half of 2020.

Energy is also among the sectors expected to be deeply affected. For instance, the COVID-2019 outbreak could significantly curb Chinese demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) due to slowing economic activity at home; China has accounted for 40% of global growth in LNG demand over the last five years.

Epidemic overwhelmingly dominates Chinese media coverage

The COVID-19 outbreak remains front and center in virtually all reporting across China’s media landscape. In particular, there is strong demand among Chinese outlets for positive stories emphasizing how the country has rallied together and detailing the progress being made to bring the epidemic under control. For brands and businesses, this provides a critical opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to supporting China at a very difficult time.

Chinese state-run media have also focused on countering the misinformation that often accompanies global health crises. For instance, China Daily has published a series of articles looking to debunk online rumors related to the virus before they spread too far – such as correcting inaccurate information about whether avoiding using cash or wearing contact lenses can reduce the likelihood of contracting the disease.

Business community broadens support for relief efforts

Amid incredibly challenging circumstances, Chinese and foreign companies have continued to expand their contributions to help mitigate the global health crisis. H+K China is proud to see many of our clients among the countless brands and businesses which are providing urgently needed support. Recent examples include:

Shell China donated 2 million yuan to the Wuhan Charity Federation. In addition, the company also gave 30 tons of medicinal alcohol to local hospitals in Hubei province.

JD Health launched a new online platform to help ensure patients with chronic diseases continue to have access to their drug supply, as part of JD.com’s highly diversified efforts to provide assistance. The Chinese e-commerce giant also unveiled its National Fresh Produce Channel to help farmers in need of new sales channels for their products during the epidemic.

Microsoft announced a second round of donations – including both cash and technology support – which raised the company’s total contribution to 45.8 million yuan, including 4.78 million yuan donated by employees. These commitments are assisting frontline hospitals and medical workers as well as helping to alleviate the outbreak’s impact on businesses, students, educational institutions, and partners.

Tencent pledged an additional 1 billion yuan to set up an Anti-Epidemic Fund, following the earlier launch of the company’s 300 million yuan Outbreak Response Fund and 200 million yuan Developer Support Alliance Fund. The new fund will be dedicated to helping provide medical supplies and technological support, assisting the infected and their families, improving medical facilities, conducting R&D focused on alleviating the epidemic, and more.

Communications strategies – Key recommendations

Navigating the risks presented by a global health crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak can prove incredibly challenging for brands and businesses, particularly from a communications perspective. Most importantly, they would be well-advised to embed the 3Cs of crisis communications – concern, control, and commitment – at the heart of their strategies.

What does this mean? Essentially, companies should shape their communications strategies to articulate the following to their business partners, other key stakeholders, consumers, and the media:

Concern: express empathy for all those dealing with a very complex and difficult situation

Control: indicate precisely what steps the company has taken at present to address the situation

Commitment: demonstrate the company’s broader determination to help resolve the crisis over the longer term

And why is it so important for brands and businesses to take this to heart? Simply put, those which follow the 3Cs often emerge from times of crisis with stronger connections with their target audiences; those which fail to bear them in mind will likely see their relationships strained or even seriously jeopardized.

So putting the 3Cs into action is critical. To help do so, here are some specific recommendations for companies during this difficult time.


Set up a core hub

Establish an internal team tasked with managing the company’s activities and communications in response to the health crisis;

Monitor daily all updates from Chinese authorities, the WHO, and other top health organizations

Follow closely how news is unfolding across both traditional and social media channels in today’s 24-hour news and digital media environment – in particular, don’t turn a blind eye to coverage and discussions taking place on China’s massive online platforms, such as WeChat and Weibo, which serve as hugely important sources of information for hundreds of millions of people.

Comply with government directives

Fully adhere to Chinese policies and follow official guidance with regards to business activities, such as the closure or resumption of operations;

Adapt the company’s 2020 business strategy for China accordingly.

Be transparent with employees

Provide timely and consistent updates on corporate policies vis-à-vis the epidemic;

Ensure staff understand that their safety and wellbeing is the company’s top priority;

Be clear about all safeguards and precautionary measures being taken on behalf of the workforce, such as flexible work arrangements and the provision of protective masks and gloves.


Keep messaging simple and factual

Only cite official information from government or health entities in public communications to avoid the risk of being perceived as spreading misinformation.

Engage actively with key stakeholders

Maintain regular communications with business and government stakeholders about corporate policies and activities vis-à-vis the outbreak;

If carrying out temporary closures or other disruptions to normal operations, ensure they are fully aware of the company’s plans to ensure business continuity going forward.

Contribute to efforts to fight the outbreak

For major corporates, adopt a multi-phased, diversified approach to supporting efforts to tackle the health crisis;

Donate funds and/or leverage unique business capabilities to create innovative assistance programs that truly stand out

Ensure continued follow-up to initial relief initiatives rather than relying on just a one-off commitment;

For those making donations, release a succinct external announcement which provides the most pertinent details, such as the amount of funds committed, the recipient entities and key beneficiaries, and what the donation aims to achieve, including quote(s) from the executive leadership team (China, regional, and/or global);

Demonstrate how the company is having a meaningful impact without appearing opportunistic – communications surrounding donations and other supportive initiatives must show a high degree of restraint to avoid backfiring by creating perceptions of insincerity and undermining the company’s credibility as a good corporate citizen (i.e. avoid any marketing around the company’s products or services; if they are integral to fulfilling an initiative’s objectives, then make a very clear connection between these capabilities and efforts to resolve the health crisis).


Source:Hill+Knowlton Strategies

We see them everywhere. People staring at their mobile phones, rarely looking away, seemingly mesmerised. They do this while walking to work, in trains or taxis, while eating their meals and even while another screen – the TV – is flickering right in front of them. So engrossed are we in our phones that we check them more than 100 times a day.

This is the new, connected consumerism practised by the ‘mobile customer’. It isn’t just that consumers are now always on; they are empowered and evolved. Many businesses, however, stick to traditional marketing methods weighed down by years of legacy thinking. We often notice that marketers fail to apply personal preferences as consumers to their methods. Digital transformation requires not just a change in processes, but mindsets. Nowhere is this more important than in the entertainment content industry.

Entertainment and mobiles: Growing together

There is an unprecedented availability and consumption of mobile entertainment content: streaming media, video on demand, mobile TV, games. There is no doubt anymore whether the demand for such services exists. The only question is how fast entertainment on mobile will grow. In fact, the entertainment industry has understood not only the potential for going mobile-first to reach this growing audience but – and this is critical – also to re-engineer production and distribution for this new reality. One of the manifestations of this is entertainment as a social watching experience and the introduction of gamification into the mix.

Take the VIVO Indian Premier League (VIVO IPL) 2019. Hotstar elevated the broadcast to India’s first social cricket viewing experience. The streaming app enabled viewers to invite friends and family to Hotstar, enabling them to watch matches and participate in the Watch N’ Play game together. Fans could compete through a leaderboard and chat about the match with each other as well as with experts and celebrities.

Strategic partnerships ensured an even greater value add. Winners of Watch N’ Play could redeem their points through a partnership with Amazon Pay. A partnership with food delivery app Swiggy meant viewers could order food from Hotstar itself, ensuring they didn’t miss any of the action on the field and didn’t have to leave the app.

Advertisers, meanwhile, were offered more efficiency than ever before – they could target 24 cohorts during the live streaming in addition to contextual branded cards showcasing offers, mini games and polls, which created a unique opportunity to engage viewers at scale.

The customer journey is now fully mobile

It is a mistake to believe that customers use phones only to buy things. It’s a lot more sophisticated; customers use phones for research, to educate themselves and to make informed choices. This is creating a new marketing paradigm. Marketers understand that modern mobile use is also a quest to be more productive. It’s a journey of discovery and also of convenience wherein app use saves time but technology allows us to also customise as per user behaviour, location and demographic, thus making content more relevant, cost-effective and likely to be consumed. This is why we’re pushing a new measurement paradigm. Marketers would focus on click-through rates but advertising units have moved beyond clicks. The range of ad formats today spans the gamut from branded cards to carousels, drive-tostore, native images, mid-rolls and even lead generation options.

Branded content is here to stay

With branded content, the key is to grab the audience’s attention and drive engagement through content. We find that branded content entertains, teaches and results in better engagement than standard content. A recent Quaker Oats campaign comes to mind. As the category leader, it wanted to be in tune with younger consumers. The brand understood that, as this audience moved away from TV towards digital, it needed an innovative and a non-intrusive approach. The research was the key – it indicated that consumers were actively searching for upcoming shows and binge watching them on their phones. They were also actively searching for healthy, quick and tasty breakfast recipes.

Partnering with Hotstar, Quaker Oats developed a show in which celebrity chef Vikas Khanna came up with delectable recipes featuring the product. The show also featured celebrities like Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar and leading actors from the South like Vishu Vishal and Raiza Wilson. The show leveraged multiple ad formats to target health enthusiasts identified from the apps they used, from mid-rolls and pre-rolls to billboards and display units, to drive awareness and purchase intent. Social media posts by celebrities made the show resonate with millennials.

The data was clear about the impact: there was a significant rise in key brand metrics, aiding awareness and purchase intent. The campaign reached over 22 million users and became Hotstar’s No. 2 English show after ‘Koffee with Karan’

The new measurement paradigm

How should marketers measure on mobile? The answer lies in the leveraging of first-party data. Let’s understand this through a CEAT campaign that ran during the last ICC Cricket World Cup. It aimed to establish CEAT as the preferred two- and four-wheeler tyre brand by delivering its core proposition of ‘long-lasting tyres’. The campaign used the medium wonderfully. The brand became synonymous with match highlights through the ‘Highlights by CEAT’ video that got more than 300 million views, cutting through the ad clutter and reaching audiences beyond the live match. The campaign drove local engagement through six language feeds and retargeted website visits to drive purchase intent.

Here’s what CEAT’s data said about the campaign: direct searches for the website rose threefold, resulting in a 10% increase in website sessions as well as a 40% growth in website leads. As you can see, we need to go beyond click-throughs to actions that tie in more closely to business objectives. Even as content creators and marketers put in place relevant measurement systems, there is a lot of work left in terms of content discovery and user interface. However, it is an unstoppable force. As devices and data access get cheaper, we will see greater mobile entertainment consumption and newer technologies – all of which will make our mobile viewing experience richer.

To summarise, I’ll leave you with the following to consider:

· Mobile video is a key tool for brand-building now

· The creative must be more than a 30-second ad spot or impression. Without social, gamification and content-driven experiences, it’s unlikely to work

· RoI measurement must link to core business and marketing goals – whether that’s incremental sales to new footfalls or consumer perception changes


Written by Gulshan Verma, SVP & Head, Client & Agency, Hotstar

Source: Mobile Marketing Ecosystem Report 2020

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