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"The world over, marketing professionals and their communication partners are single mindedly pursuing personalization of messaging and even platforms are driving better conversations. A one-size-does-not-fit-all philosophy help clients and brands become more relevant to its consumers. That’s the key mantra to success in this increasingly connected world." Said Ali Merchant, Founder Director, Triton Communications Pvt Ltd.

In an interview with MediAvataar India, Ali shared his valueable insights on all things advertisng, marketing and more.

Here is the complete Q&A....

1. Advertising has sure taken some interesting turns over a period of time in India, what has been your most liked evolvement in the last ten years?
Advertising has become more dynamic and personalized over the last several years.
More number of purpose driven brands have seen an evolvement over last few years. From Dirt is Good to Share the Load, there are lot of brands which go beyond product and emotional benefits, to create a connection with the consumers.
In terms of social change even what we do for one of our clients Eureka Forbes is worth a mention. Aquaguard the No 1 water purifier created the “Jal Daan” (gift of water) Movement, that urged homes with water purifiers to share their safe drinking water with the lesser privileged who visit their homes daily – like the domestic help, the security guard, the driver etc.
The Jal Daan movement has been able to effectively engage people through a simple, doable solution and create a momentum, which is making a real difference to people’s lives. With the monetary contribution, lot of new Community Water Purification Projects have already been set up.
The concept of “branding” budgets, where performance cannot be quantified, is increasingly being replaced by direct response metrics. I believe this is what has re-kindled the passion and excitement in our industry and brought back the challenges in our profession.

2. Which trends according to you dominated India’s Advertising Industry in 2017?
A trend of human stories being conveyed in the most subtle but impactful manner. Ad Campaigns like ‘Salute Toh Banta hai ’(Officer’s Choice Blue)showcased why being human is our first duty.
Marketers exploring new ways of advertising digitally. One such tool that is gaining momentum is advertising through social media applications such as Instagram Stories.
The ‘Make in India’ movement paved way for a number of swadeshi brands such as Patanjali who capitalized on the “being desi” emotion.
Contextual relevance: While content is important, the context is also becoming increasingly important. For e.g Pee Safe, a toilet seat sanitiser spray brand, associated with the film Toilet- Ek Prem Katha.
Ambient advertising With people being always on the move, connecting with them at ‘moments of truth’ is gaining more importance. With brands connecting with consumers at multiple touch points.To raise awareness of the Calcutta School of Music, various bars of Mozart and Hayden were hung on the wires that hang over a busy intersection of Kolkata.
Social issues : Be it movies or advertising, everyone wants to make a difference. From Padman to ads regarding LGBTQ community ads, players are trying to be instruments of social change.

3. Your view on the advertising spends in India.
Advertising spends will grow over the next 3 years at roughly 9% p.a. This will be led by digital, TV and regional press. Radio and Cinema albiet on low bases will grow at 12-15% p.a.
However, the client’s demand on showing ROI on advertising will increase and this will lead to realistic growths across media. Each media touch point will increasingly have to show good ROI. With consolidation across TV, Radio, Print and Cinema, the investment in research to deliver ROI will grow.

4. Digital advertising has surely seen a soaring growth in India, any advice for the advertisers?
Video content advertising is increasing due to falling data rates as well as the rise in the options of video content players. Moreover, an increase in aggregator services provides new advertising platforms in sync with brand propositions. Augmented and virtual realities are set to focus on bringing down content cost next year in order to mainstream advertisements on the platform eventually.
Although twitter is struggling to grow globally, this trend will not be reflected in India as the user base here is growing, specifically due to influencer marketing campaigns. Instagram will become a more valuable channel for advertising than facebook due to better advertising control feature. Facebook as an advertising medium will become obsolete. My advice to marketers using these media would be to focus on the fact that the power of digital truly comes alive in hyper targeting.

5. Any global digital advertising trends that you think Indian marketers should adopt or should not.
The world over, marketing professionals and their communication partners are single mindedly pursuing personalization of messaging and even platforms are driving better conversations. A one-size-does-not-fit-all philosophy help clients and brands become more relevant to its consumers. That’s the key mantra to success in this increasingly connected world.
To elaborate:
1. Growth based Data intelligence will be the key in years to come. There are huge data points available through multiple touch points. The clients who are able to convert them into meaningful and actionable work flows will drive their respective categories. This paired with personalization, will be the winner.

2. Human stories well told with Video content will be key for brands to break the communication clutter.

3. Capturing Micro moments, will be critical for brands to navigate a consumer at the last mile. The brands who have the ability to correctly anticipate and address impulsive informational splurges, or micro-moments, by providing the right information at the right time to the customer in need will lead the way. A mobile first approach will be pivotal.

4. A one-size-does-not-fit-all philosophy help clients and brands become more relevant to its consumers. That’s the key mantra to success in this increasingly connected world.

6. Tell us about the shift in Content Marketing today.
There is actually no shift IN content marketing. There is a very pronounced shift TO content marketing. This is a global trend and is becoming increasingly strong in India. Content marketing allows for rich shareable story telling in multiple formats (video, blogs, etc.), and enables scope for great, innovative and fresh creativity.
To reiterate, the shift has clearly been from outbound to Inbound marketing. Instead of chasing people down to show them an ad, content marketers produce the content and let consumers find them. It’s a non intrusive way of reaching out to the consumer. The content allows more time and space to get marketing messages across, than they could in a 30-second commercial or 20-word internet ad. The challenge however is to seamlessly weave the brand story in the content piece, which doesn’t appear to be an advertorial.

7. What are your thoughts on Native Advertising, Video and Mobile.
All the three elements are important to engage with your consumer. However, native advertising is one of the latest answers to companies and brands searching to share experiences with it consumers in a manner that will reverberate well beyond the duration of the video, or spot or blog being used for the messaging. Consumers today have a sense of ownership about the brands they bring into their lives, and therefore want conversations with brands that are meaningful and enduring. Native advertising allows for rich POVs on brands and services. It allows a brand to spread its net farther, and get expert pieces written about it that enables consumers to identify with the brand in an environment that is conducive, non-obtrusive and readily acceptable. The content curation to match the native publisher platforms will be the essence to success, whether its story telling is through text or video. However, a brand cannot survive on this alone. It needs a mix of native and other forms of digital communications to come out a winner.

8. The Indian advertising industry has evolved from being a small-scaled business to a full-fledged industry and it is projected to be the second fastest growing advertising market in Asia after China. Your thoughts on the same?
The advertising industry in India was never really a small-scale business. From the beginning, we have had large MNC agency networks that opened its offices in the country. These grew, proliferated and were instrumental in building acceptance and recognition of advertising as an industry in India. The scenario today is well known, and, as you have mentioned, the advertising market in India is estimated to be the second largest in Asia.
While the industry has grown in terms of scale, a noticeable change has been in the quality of work. With more number of agencies coming in and even smaller ones doing good work, the bar has been raised. Which reflects in the number of awards which India has been winning at the Global level.
I am very bullish about the growth of the Indian economy and therefore very optimistic about the future of advertising in India, starting 2018. The growth indicators are already there, and brands and companies are busy gearing themselves to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving consumer centric market.

9. What are your predictions for 2018?
• Rural India is where lot of action will be. With radio and smart phones playing an important role in reaching out to consumers
• Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence are the buzz words, which will gain more prominence in consumer’s life. As brands try to leverage to stay ahead of the competition.
• More consumer engagement ideas will emerge - like Interactive storytelling.
• Social issues will continue to be highlighted by more brands.
• Instagram will continue to become more popular and might emerge as the most popular Social media channel.


"I feel every businessman is and always remains an entrepreneur as long as he is open for the winds of change, adapting to newer circle of people and technology with having an open mind towards the nature of business.
The day all this ends he or she shall be termed as an Emeritus than an entrepreneur. My journey started with being an event planner to politics to a digital marketer and then the owner of the first standalone Marathi Digital Channel- PLANET MARATHI." Said Akshay Bardapurkar, Head and Founder, Planet Marathi.


In an interview with MediAvataar India, Akshay poured his heart out on Marathi entertainment industry and how he is trying to pull it all together to fan this fire of emancipation in the world of already enriched regional heritage, his earnest attempt to put it on the global pedestal through Planet Marathi.

Here is the complete Q&A.......

MediAvataar: What made you start Planet Marathi?

Akshay: Planet Marathi was born out of sheer passion towards the Marathihood. The entire gamut of Marathi world was somewhere lost in spite of being known as an ancient language and culture of varied passionate people.
People from this society per say, have reached places and etched names, yet its striving for that recognition which probably a Tamil or a Telegu linguistic society or for that matter even Punjabi have been able to achieve.
Inspite of being the commercial capital, Mumbai which is also known for its film industry was somewhere lost and reduced down to a few Marathi characters played on screen as a police havaldar, a kaamwalibai ( maid servant), a corrupt politician named after a marathi surname or a kind of koli song.
Content and its projection were not in tandem, maybe due to lack of money, infrastructure or maybe it got overshadowed by the Hindi film industry.
In spite of having the best of the culture, drama to literature and sports, rest of the world only identifies us in the above mentioned caracters or maybe as a tendulkar or mangeshkar.

Which also meant that in spite of having raw crude talent and experience what lacked in the marathi world was its projection and packaging. No other Marathi platform did that earlier nor anyone is doing it presently, thus leaving us with a huge vacuum or void to fill in, which is where I decided to take up the mantle and package everything under one roof by creating original new and fresh content to showcase and leave it for the people to watch and decide.

The need and desire to bring Marathi Legacy to forefront by touching all corners of Maharashtra and world through content of Marathi Art, Music, Films, and Culture etc. was the thought that demanded implementation. That's where the thought manifested into action and Planet Marathi was born.

MediAvataar: There is a wide variety of Marathi content available online these days what differentiates PM?

Akshay: I would like to slightly differ with your view, I don’t think there is variety of content available, I would rather say that varied content is available but on different platforms and not under one umbrella like the way Planet Marathi perceives and envisions. The whole idea of Planet Marathi is to create shows in slots and run like a television channel from Monday to Friday, five days a week broadcasting varied content from Shows, Interviews, Music, Travel and Food, Entrepreneurial Shows and so on.

That’s how we would like to differentiate ourselves from others.

MediAvataar: Who do you think are your target audience?

Akshay: The target audience are of the digital age, which also means anyone above the age of 16 who is legally allowed to surf the internet till about the age of 75 should be considered as the TA, simply, because we have content for all age groups, however we focus to keep it youth centric in the future.

MediAvataar: How has been the response like?

Akshay: The response till date has been from average to good, some of our shows due to sheer newness and freedom, which digital media allows are doing pretty well. One can never measure the popularity with the other competing pages or portals due to the availability of bots and other means of propagation.
However the organic response to our work has been exemplary and we would be further escalating it by using high quality production methods.

MediAvataar: Take us through some of the interesting content that you create/curate every day?

Akshay: We started with signing the Master Actor/ Director Mahesh Manjrekar with an interview show known as Manja Bole. Thereafter we launched all premium shows with the protagonists as Amit Bhandari, Raju Parulekar, Ganesh Matkari.
All of the above were created keeping in mind their huge popularity in their own respective fields. All of them have fan followers in lakhs, all put together for a Startup like us it was a huge moral booster to cater the content to an already created user base. Their public image and branding also made a huge difference along with the freedom of expression welcomed by the social media.
In the near future we will see even more established faces hosting, curating and producing many shows in the space of Music, Sports, Literature, Food and Travel, of course something related to start-ups itself.

MediAvataar: Do you ever want it to launch on the more traditional medium?

Akshay: Traditional Medium such as Television has lost its sheen merely due to similar concepts running on all channels. Most of the television channels are run by business tycoons who have tried to impose their traditions and ideas to their respective media houses, thus most of the content remains untouched.
Digital Media provides a neutral platform, different from the traditional one with array of space to create, develop and execute something that we and the presenters of the shows like which is more open, uncensored, youthful and like able than the traditional television.
Moreover with the advent of products like Amazon Fire and Chrome Cast, digital has now come over television so the good old tradition has lost its exclusivity.
You will see the entire television will be taken over by digital medium in a few years from now.
People are watching their favourite news channels through products on Web channels and unsubscribing themselves from DTH so it is self explanatory what digital medium is going to do to television. 

MediAvataar: What are your thoughts on the digital media in our country?

Akshay: Well ! According to me we are living in a digital era and whatever we do or happens to us right from net banking, filing of FIRs, ordering food or mapping the next vacation, everything happens under the digital sun. And with the advent of multi national digital media houses like Netflix and Amazon I feel our already well functioning media platform that is still in the nascent stage will get benefited from it. Policies such as Digital India will surely contribute more to the society.
Though we Indians are very creative, converting the same content from the mainstream media to Digital media needs to be monitored and channelized closely.
And the good news is that small enterprises to bigger ones are using digital media extensively, making ventures like us more hopeful.

MediAvataar: Is content really the king or marketing can make you get away with average content?

Akshay: Marketing can make one get away from many things to begin with, but I feel to maintain the momentum and its tempo in the longer run, one needs the real content and therefore, howsoever old school thinking it might be, but if the content is not good and just because it is presented and promoted well, you can have a few viewers attract and lured, but to sustain in the race, content is essential and always play a pivotal role thereby making it the real king.
Moreover International series such as House of Cards and Game of Thrones have proved that so well that a customer in India does not have any qualms on paying for Netflix or Amazon, the amount of 500 Rs as a subscription fees to watch the unimaginable piece of content they have curated. Also one can notice that the entire presentation is done in a way where a viewer ceases to leave that app or portal. Hence for this business to survive in a longer run, content will always be the key!

MediAvataar: How did entrepreneurship happen to you? Share some memorable experiences from your career journey so far.

Akshay: Entrepreneurship happened to me when the word entrepreneur never existed in my dictionary nor did I understand the meaning of that if i were told about it.
For me it started gradually from college days by executing a few inter college events with panache and to be termed later as contractor, because Event Management wasn’t heard during the early 2000s.
The journey thus continued with Globe trotting for work related Events, Celebrity Management thus getting exposed to varied people understanding their way of working and then implementing those experiences in one’s home country with handful of money, limited contacts to make big connections by means of experiential marketing, from becoming a peon to driver to a CEO, I did all by myself, convincing people with big ideas and delivering with hundred percent results.
I feel every businessman is and always remains an entrepreneur as long as he is open for the winds of change, adapting to newer circle of people and technology with having an open mind towards the nature of business.
The day all this ends he or she shall be termed as an Emeritus than an entrepreneur. My journey started with being an event planner to politics to a digital marketer and then the owner of the first standalone Marathi Digital Channel- PLANET MARATHI.

Entrepreneurship means constant change lead by a leader encompassed with an open mind and heart. 

MediAvataar: What’s there in the pipeline for Planet Marathi?

Akshay: Planet Marathi has grown three folds in the past 11 months as an App and a Social Media House, from just being a promoter of Marathi language, culture and ideals to being successfully accredited by all walks of life as a one stop shop for general entertainment, our whole idea is to keep creating likeable content for all ages and keeping up to the world’s demand and make it internationally appealing and viable.
So in the near future, one may find, besides the original running content, PM turning into a full time production house creating regional movies, web series and offline properties such as Digital Awards and Conclaves, to setting up one and only Artist Management Wing. By end of quarter 2019 we would ideally like to open it up for public by floating a public limited participation and an IPO. Again the first, in Marathi World or Marathihood!!

News18, India’s largest news network was unveiled at the first edition of Network18 Group’s marquee thought-leadership property - News18 Rising India Summit, in the presence of national and international luminaries from the fields of governance, arts, business and academia.

The occasion was graced by the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi. Dignitaries present included Piyush Goyal, Nitin Gadkari, Farukh Abdullah, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Jai Ram Thakur, Manohar Lal Khattar, Suresh Prabhu among bureaucrats and ministers. Notable personalities such as Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate Economist, Gautam Adani, Founder, Adani Group, Naveen Jindal, Chairman Jindal Steel and Power, Rajnish Kumar, CMD, State Bank of India, Anil Agarwal, Founder and Chairman, Vedanta, Shikha Sharma, MD & CEO, Axis Bank, Kangana Ranaut, Filmstar and Prasoon Joshi were also present.

Commenting on the launch, Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman – Network18 said, “As regional markets deepen and the hunger for vernacular news continues to rise inexorably, we have carried our strengths into multiple linguistic geographies through new regional channels and digital properties. Our portfolio of national channels across news genres provides us a platform that places us at a substantial advantage versus competitors.”

Talking about News18 Network, Avinash Kaul, President – Network18 said, “The television measurement agency BARC measures viewership pattern of 78 crore people in the country, out of which over 67 crore people watched News18 Network channels in the last one year, which means about 86% viewers watched news channels of our network. News18 Network is not just the largest television news network but is also the largest digital news brand present in multiple languages. In fact News18 Network has more monthly viewers (41 crore) than the entire claimed readership of newsprint readers in a month.”

Numbers have long been known to be coldly accurate but thoroughly incapable of assessing softer aspects like emotions and feeling. However, ensuring that audiences connect with brand messaging is the next frontier of effective measurement.

Today’s consumers access content across myriad media, but consumers in India continue to view television commercials to be among the most trustworthy sources of advertising. Given the prevalence of TV in consumers’ lives, however, viewers are bombarded with more ads than ever, making it that much more difficult for brands and agencies to create commercials that truly connect with their audiences. So what’s involved in building that connection?

The media industry has a long history of measurement solutions that assess an ad’s impact on its intended audience—understanding what works and what doesn’t. But they don’t determine whether an ad creates an emotional connection with the viewer. This represents a significant opportunity for marketers because studies show that purchase decisions are driven by emotions.


Emotions are intangible, and measuring them is no small task. Direct response surveys can be misleading because they presume that respondents can accurately verbalise their emotions. Verbal responses require respondents to express, and therefore rationalise, their emotions as feelings. Emotions are instinctive reactions to external stimuli, whereas feelings are the mind’s interpretation of those emotions; and are therefore, subject to personal bias, culture, setting, past experiences and ingrained beliefs. Moreover, many emotions don’t break the surface of conscious awareness, making it impossible to be interpreted as feelings.

For many modern researchers, using techniques that can directly measure neurological and biological reactions are the best way to evaluate emotions. These reactions can include heart rate, sweat, posture, facial reactions, electrical impulses in specific regions of the brain, etc. Those techniques are collectively referred to as neuroscience, and recent technical innovations in this field are helping break new ground in our understanding of consumer behaviour. They’re also setting a new standard for ad testing.

Everything on this planet is always on the move including the ceaseless revolutions of our own planet earth. However a new planet nowadays has emerged shining in its own glory and resplendence while making the people tap their feet to its tunes.

Ranging from films to politics, from social issues to music, from leaders to commoners, PLANET MARATHI has been catering variety of shows on its web platform through its unique and indigenous ways of presentation. Whether it is the live Ganpati aarti from Maharashtra’s honorable Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ‘s residence or the 10 day regal pomp and devotional atmosphere at the Lalbagcha Raja, Planet Marathi has given it all to the audience with elegance.

Its flair to present the intricate work and struggle of art and cinema through style has won hearts of people and gained attention of international magazine like Forbes India Magazine.,which covered about their initiative to create an international Marathi Platform

While featuring Dr. Subrahmanian Swamy and interviewing him on a web channel was a different game altogether , viewers across the country and abroad were hooked on to the twitter platform of Planet to witness the live conversation with the most intellectual MP and economist of our times. 

Head and founder of Planet Marathi Mr.Akshay Bardapurkar who hails from the field of brand management himself believes, the world of entertainment is huge and vast ,simultaneously regional Marathi viewership on web is almost 70 million in world out of which Maharashtra alone has 21 million Marathi Internet users which is in itself a gigantic number.

“To reach out to people is to empower them with information, knowledge and entertainment by help of newer aspects of technology opening new doors of imagination and creating platforms like Planet Marathi”.

With talk shows done by renowned actor Mahesh Manjrekar simultaneously, interviews of different personalities on #Faces by noted political analyst and writer ,author Raju Parulekar brought more recognition and authenticity to the kind of content being broadcasted on Planet.

Recently music composer duo Ajay Atul were on Planet and gave an exclusive interview to Amit Bhandari, as they claimed not to have spoken on media talk shows since years .

Here is the heart touching conversation:

PLANET MARATHI is an initiative started by AB Company India digitally partnered with TWITTER INDIA under the special partnership program . AB Company is a subsidiary concern of AB Company INC, Texas , USA which handles distribution and promotion of regional films abroad and also manages International film festivals and awards.

In the past eight months it has successfully launched four premium shows which garnered tremendous popularity amongst the Marathi circle

•Manja Bole With Mahesh Manjrekar
•#Faces With Raju Parulekar
•Bhannat Review Show With Ganesh Matkari
•Lai Bhaari With Amit Bhandari

Besides major film announcements being done in the Twitters Exclusive #Blueroom facility, they have pioneered in telecasting events from varied fields including CyberCrime, Social and Traditional events such as

  • 2nd National Cyber Psychology Conference 2018 by Responsible Netism
  • Featured guests like Mrs. Amruta Fadnavis( Wife of Chief Minister of Maharashtra ) ,Mr. Vinay Sahastrabuddhe(PRESIDENT ICCR) and many more
  • Online Video Partnership for the film “Rakshaas”
  • Live coverage of the promotional event of THACKERAY , the upcoming movie .

Apart from this they are also planning to launch in forthcoming time three brand New Shows :

 Planet Startup - Aiming to launch the Entrepreneurs
 Food and Travel Show
 Planet Unplugged -A Musical Ensemble

With so much on their platter and the enthusiastic team of professionals and creative people, Planet Marathi is surely here to leave an indelible mark on minds of people and etch its name in field of Entertainment with its novel ideas of inculcating and culminating Art, Culture, Films, Theatre, Music, Dance, Entertainment, Literature , Politics, News,Society, History & Tourism on its web platform.



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