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Sunday, 04 February 2018 00:00

Irfan Khan, CEO, Zefmo

"As per the recently released India Influence Report 2018, the survey indicates that brands are today recognizing the fact that influencers can help leverage the position of a brand’s product and increases brand recognition because of consumers leaning on the reviews and expert opinions of influencers to make their purchasing decisions. We also see a widespread adoption of influencer marketing by different brands which highlight the fact that it is becoming an integral part of the marketing mix. In fact, one of the major revelations of the India Influence Report 2018 points towards the gradual maturing of influencer marketing in India with 14 percent of the marketeers suggesting an always on-mode and 16 percent planning to integrate influencer marketing within their marketing strategy." Said Irfan Khan, CEO, Zefmo.

In a Q&A with MediAvataar India Irfan spilled the beans on the latest storm that has hit the digital marketing scene in India and it is certainly here to stay. 
Here is the complete interaction...

MediAvataar: What does Zefmo stand for?

Irfan: Zefmo is a marketplace connecting social influencers across genres with brands of all magnitudes and variations as per the requirement. We are a technology platform that helps influencers to do what they love, experience new products and tell their stories around the brands they live and breathe while getting rewarded at the same time. Thousands of influencers and hundreds of brands rely on Zefmo to spread across their message in the digital universe.

Literally, the word ‘Zefmo’ is a fusion of Zephyr and Movement which stands for changing the course of the winds of influence - in the right direction. We are a Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Government of India recognized technology platform and advisory consultancy startup and a ‘Made in India’ technology solution that has been custom built.

It has been co-founded by industry pioneers and leaders, and since our launch, the company has been continuously evolving to help businesses realize the potential of their most valuable asset – their brand. In a very short time frame, Zefmo has managed to build a reputation through outstanding results, quality senior consultants and bestpractice communications strategies and campaigns.

MediAvataar: Why marketers should adopt Influencer Marketing?

Irfan: Every minute, there are more than 3.8 million Google searches happening, 350,000+ tweets being sent, 65,000+ Instagram photos being uploaded, over 700,000 hours of Youtube videos being watched. The world is moving really fast and it is becoming a challenge for marketers to make their brand stand out and reach out to the right target audience to drive a meaningful conversation today.

In such a scenario, influencer marketing is seen by many marketers as one of the best ways to quickly build their brand online and create awareness among their target audience. It involves brands identifying the audience they’d like to market to and then reaching out to the leaders who have a persuasive pull on this very audience. With influencer marketing, marketers are empowered to break the clutter and connect with their audience in a meaningful way through authentic storytelling.

As per the recently released India Influence Report 2018, the survey indicates that brands are today recognizing the fact that influencers can help leverage the position of a brand’s product and increases brand recognition because of consumers leaning on the reviews and expert opinions of influencers to make their purchasing decisions. We also see a widespread adoption of influencer marketing by different brands which highlight the fact that it is becoming an integral part of the marketing mix. In fact, one of the major revelations of the India Influence Report 2018 points towards the gradual maturing of influencer marketing in India with 14 percent of the marketeers suggesting an always on-mode and 16 percent planning to integrate influencer marketing within their marketing strategy.

In an era when people no longer trust big businesses anymore, influencer marketing serves as a bridge between the big and small brands and their consumers based on a trust relationship established over a period of time. And not just this, Influencer marketing is not only the future of evolution in marketing, but it is a trend that is currently expanding at the speed of light.

MediAvataar: According to you how influencer driven campaigns garner more traction than any other?

Irfan: It has become impossible for marketers today to ignore the importance of peer reviews, recommendations or user-generated content while planning their strategy. As per a study by McKinsey, marketing inspired by word-of-mouth generated more than twice the sales of paid advertisement and had 37 per cent higher retention rate. Consumers are also no longer interested in marketing tools like advertisements and there has been market revelation that 47% of online consumers use ad blockers which are compelling brand to explore and use influencer marketing.

Consumers today are expecting and demanding for content that are entertaining and informative. And most importantly, we are in an age where consumers trust the experience of influencers, friends and family about a brand while buying it, rather than what the brand says. The consumers of today are able to make out an advert from recommendation and that has changed the whole scenario of marketing strategy.

Influencer driven campaign strategy is becoming an essential and integral part of marketing mix for brands across industries. The world is also changing rapidly and there is an increasing need for brands to instantly connect and build relationship right away, not to lose out on their visibility. This is where  influencers comes in lending their credibility to the brand by endorsing their products and providing the brand awareness and exposure to its consumers. Not only this, influencers also add a whole new level of authenticity to the brand’s digital marketing that is otherwise not easily achievable. There is also another added advantage in engaging influencers in a campaign and that is the built-in authenticity in content created by them which gives brands a human face.

MediAvataar: What would be your advice to the marketers in India?

Irfan: Based on our recent survey, some advice that will help marketer in planning more impactful and effective campaigns are:

  • The industry is shifting from the use of major influencers to macro (typically have over 50,000 followers) and micro (typically have over 10,000 to 50,000 followers) influencers - Marketers in India should focus in tapping micro-level and targeted audience. While it might be exciting to have a top celebrity talk about their brand, we should also remember that celebrities have extremely diverse audience who does not really care about the brand they are endorsing. Someone with following of over 50,000+ comprising of audience who look up to him/her for advice and is much more affordable, easy to work with and above all authentic is found to grab more attention
  • There is a shift in the industry towards an integrated or always-on influencer marketing strategy in campaign
  • Brand should not overlook the follower demographics of the influencers they are engaging. Brands were earlier fixated to demographics like age or income group of the influencers and often overlooked the most critical aspect undermining the whole goal campaign

MediAvataar: Is influencer marketing growing in India, please share some facts and figures.

Irfan: It is growing at a rapid pace. As shared with you earlier, our survey clearly indicates that this year 92% marketers are expected to launch at least one influencer campaign. The popularity of the influencer marketing to drive brand awareness and reputation can be gauged by the insight that 89% of marketers have found the medium to be effective and 62% are planning to increase their budgetary allocation towards engaging social influencers. This is massive growth for the industry. 

MediAvataar: What are the challenges one should be aware of when it comes to connecting your brand’s name with an individual?

Irfan: We always insist on selecting influencers who have domain influence in the brand’s line of products or services. Above all, their content has to be original and needs to resonate naturally to make a bigger impact. This helps in building long-term, meaningful and mutually beneficial association between the individual influencers and the brands. As influencer marketing companies, we have the added responsibility to ensure the credibility on both the sides.

MediAvataar: What is your business plan and who are top influencers on board with you?

Irfan: Right from celebrities to housewives to senior citizens to students and CEOs, we identify current influencers and activate new ones for brands that participate in our campaigns. We are a marketplace connecting over 30,000 social influencers with brands of all sizes and over 25 categories, thousands of influencers and hundreds of brands rely on Zefmo to spread their message in the digital universe. In short, we work with influencers of various types for many different things. We look at the kind of value that collaborations yield for influencers and the brands.

MediAvataar: What is there in the pipeline for Zefmo this year?

Irfan: This year, we are on a hyper drive mode. Our projected growth is going to be around trebling the overall revenue of the company while adding a slew of large clients to our kitty.

MediAvataar: A global trend according to you which marketers in India should definitely adopt. 

Irfan: Visual and Video Content

With photo and video sharing emerging as the fastest growing form of media, Instagram and YouTube will witness massive adoption by the influencers. In fact, in 2017, an increasing number of influencers are adopting video as a medium and have started their YouTube channel as well. This is an indication of both consumer and brand preference inline with the demand for video content.

New York Festivals® International Advertising Awards® has added 14 additional members to the 2018 Executive Jury, bringing the panel up to 35 members from 17 countries. The Executive Jury, an elite panel of Global and Regional Chief Creative Officers will meet in New York City on April 20th to Monday, April 23rd to select the World’s Best Advertising®.

“Never before has New York Festivals assembled an Executive Jury of this magnitude and executive leadership level,” said Michael Demetriades, President and Executive Director, New York Festivals. “NYF’s world-class Executive Jury has a 360-view of global creativity and through four rounds of judging they will determine the 2018 World’s Best Advertising award-winners. The work chosen as trophy winners by this highly acclaimed creative group truly deserve the accolade bestowed upon it.”

Additions to the 2018 Executive Jury:

Cam Blackley, Chief Creative Officer, M&C Saatchi, Australia

Cosmo Campbell, Chief Creative Officer Canada, DDB, Canada

Javier Campopiano, Chief Creative Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi NY, USA

Cindy Yan Chan, Partner/Chief Strategy Officer, Focus Media Group, China

Andy DiLallo, Chief Creative Officer, TBWA Sydney, Australia

Ralf Heuel, Chief Creative Officer/Partner, Grabarz & Partner, Germany

Maxi Itzkoff, Chief Creative Officer, Santo Buenos Aires, Argentina

Armin Jochum, Chief Creative Officer/Co-Founder, thjnk, Germany

Eduardo Maruri, President/Chief Executive Officer LATAM, Grey, Ecuador

Farid Mokart, Creative CEO/Chief Creative Officer, Fred & Farid, France

Britt Nolan, Chief Creative Officer USA, Leo Burnett, USA

Sunmi Park, Chief Creative Officer, Daehong Communications, South Korea

Hugo Rodrigues, Chairman & CEO, WMcCann, Brazil

Taras Wayner, EVP/Chief Creative Officer, R/GA, USA

To view the 35 members of the 2018 New York Festivals Executive Jury, please visit: www.nyfadvertising.com/2018-executive-jury

Since 2011, all entries into NYF’s Advertising Awards competition are viewed by 400+ members of NYF’s Executive and Grand Juries, a brain trust of global creative minds, who collectively cast over 300,000 votes during the two-tiered judging process. Utilizing New York Festivals patented Matrix Judging System, the Executive Jury scores each entry on its own merits with 50% of the vote based upon its concept / idea, 25% stemming from its brand and market relevance, and 25% pulled from its production execution.

The 2018 New York Show℠ awards ceremony and gala will take place the evening of Thursday, May 17, 2018 at the world-class performance space, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street, New York City.

The 2018 competition entry deadline is February 28th.

Scaling infrastructure and digital inclusion represent the next frontier for India, as is apparent by the government’s continued efforts to run programmes like Smart Cities and ‘Make in India’. Despite urbanisation, however, rural markets still account for half of India’s gross domestic product (GDP). This market activity and affluence make it necessary for marketers to continue focusing on them. In fact, some industries, such as two-wheelers and telecom, derive almost half their earnings from the hinterland.

Dissecting the Rurban Market

A large part of this burgeoning opportunity lies in the “rurban” part of India—the urban part of rural areas. This includes markets that are quintessentially rural, yet have the influences of a more affluent urban lifestyle. But while rurban India has existed for a while, there is an increased need for companies to distribute to this market more optimally. With increased availability of macroeconomic data, geospatial data and custom data assets like Nielsen’s retail census, and the ability to combine them using advanced analytical methods, this optimisation is now more possible than before.

The real challenge is being able to identify the affluent clusters. The holy grail would be a precise identification of the Rurban clusters ( including villages) that account for a bulk of the affluence. For instance, Nielsen’s advanced analytics and macroeconomic data reveal that just 33% of villages, numbering about 200,000, account for 80% of all rural fastmoving consumer goods (FMCG) sales. This high concentration exists across various markets and levels of consumer affluence, making it vital for manufacturers and retailers to cater to people in those villages and clusters. Further, these high potential Rurban clusters and villages act as feeder points for the rest of the proximate markets.

When picking the most attractive markets, high-potential villages should not be confused with those that have a high density of population. This is a prevalent practice and is inefficient. Again, our meta analytics clearly establishes that there is only a 50% overlap between villages with high population, and those that contribute high sales, indicating that population is not the sole driver of sales. This is why transportation infrastructure - ease of reaching these markets—is one of the most important considerations in selecting high-potential clusters. Health infrastructure, market infrastructure and mobile connectivity are some of the other important considerations. They indicate prosperity.

One of the biggest days of the year will also mark the third edition of the ‘CNBC-TV18 Mint Budget Verdict’. In its third year, the unique engagement program will bring together the makers of the Union Budget 2018-2019 and the policy planners face-to-face with India Inc. leaders as they offer the most insightful and comprehensive budget impact assessment on Thursday, February 2, 2018; a day after the Union Budget is announced.

A consistent leader in the space, CNBC-TV18 has been decoding and analyzing the Union Budget every year for the discerning Indian viewer. With this special program/segment, CNBC-TV18 has created a distinct platform for detailed analysis and open dialog on the announcements made between the industry and its policy makers. The Union Budget 2018-19 is the first post-GST and last pre-election budget to be announced by the Modi government, the channel will share their in-depth analysis where this year, some big-ticket announcements are expected, focusing on rural programmes among other important topics.

Policy architects and key budget makers including Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railway and Coal, Mr. Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing and Industries, Rajiv Kumar, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Hasmukh Adhia, Finance Secretary from CNBC-TV18’s Managing Editor, Shereen Bhan and Mint’s Executive Editor, Anil Padmanabhan. Other dignitaries include Neeraj Kumar Gupta, Secretary, DIPAM, Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, and Department of Economic Affair. The timing of the dialogue is important since it comes barely a day after the presentation of the first post-GST and last pre-election Union budget.

Speaking about the special segment, Joy Chakraborthy, President – Revenue, TV18 & CEO Forbes India said, "Our 3rd edition of this special programme will be a landmark in its own regard as we will understand and discuss policies/changes announced and will share our take on how this will affect India Inc. in the most coveted budget announcement in decades. This year has been interesting as the Goods & Services Tax was implemented, it will be great to understand its effects and how it has helped shape the Union Budget 2018-19."

Policy makers and leading honchos of India Inc. will discuss the various announcements which will be made on 1st of February 2018, including some expected topics like increased funding for rural programmes, tweak in tax slabs, effects of GST among others.

The panel discussion will be followed by a keynote address by Mr. Piyush Goyal. The key highlight of the ‘CNBC-TV18 Mint Budget Verdict’ will be the open house where India Inc leaders articulate their perspectives on the key policy document.

‘CNBC- TV18 Mint Budget Verdict’ will have by far the biggest media play leveraging media assets of Network18 and HT Media. This guarantees unprecedented audiences reach encompassing diverse audiences across television, print and digital assets of the two groups.

The event will be featured LIVE on CNBC- TV18, CNBC Awaaz, CNN-News18, News18 India and IBN Lokmat. The surround via digital play would occur on moneycontrol.com and livemint.com. ‘CNBC-TV18 Mint Budget Verdict’ will be webcast LIVE on livemint.com & CNBC-TV18’s Facebook Page.

Social media amplification would help integrate influencers outside of the venue to join the deliberations. Network18 & HT Media twitter and social media avatars will not only build-up the visibility for the engagement but also proactively amplify LIVE proceedings.

OK, I admit it. Every now and again I talk to myself, usually under moments of stress or excitement. And it occurs to me that with the advent of voice-first technologies digital designers, advertisers and researchers could get a whole new set of insights into how people experience their content. Of course, they might not always like to listen to what people say.

I like to believe that talking to myself is not a sign of madness, but rather a quality shared with Gandalf the Gray who claimed it was a habit of the old who chose to speak to the wisest person present (but then that is not a difficult choice when you are working on your own). Unfortunately I cannot say that I share Gandalf’s longevity or his ability to set things on fire, otherwise there might be a lot of people out there who feel their ears burning right now.

Like many I spent my holiday season doing a little online research and shopping. The experience evoked more than a few expletives. When searching for subjects as diverse as wi-fi enabled plugs, water-to-water heat exchangers and Prague Powder (google it if you must) I encountered a number of really irritating cases of businesses putting their needs ahead of those of their customers.

The following are my top three F-bomb triggering tactics and I thought you might like to add a few more in the spirit of co-creation.

1. Requests to sign up for the site’s email newsletter before you have even read anything. This has to be the most stupid and common tactic out there. Never mind the interruptive nature of the tactic, are you seriously telling me that anyone is going to sign up without figuring out whether the site is of interest to them or not?

2. Requests to complete a survey before you have spent more than a second or two on the site. I can only assume that this is an attempt to create a control cell to compare to people who have had time to experience the site. I suppose it is one way to guarantee good results. Oh look, people who spent time on the site were more satisfied than the ones irritated by our irrelevant survey request.

3. Autoplay ads with the sound enabled. No matter what the person who sold you ad format claimed these are simply a bad idea. My immediate response to sound on auto play is to leave the site. It is not even worth looking to the mute or pause button, there is always an alternative out there.

These are such obviously annoying tactics that I do not think research is required to figure it out, but there are lots of less obvious examples where a little consumer feedback might have improved the user experience. For instance, all sites seem to assume that the visitor knows for what they are looking and has the uncanny ability to anticipate what the site has called a specific product. Or is that just me?


Written by Nigel Hollis,Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown

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