Rewind to the year 2004, when digital media was the buzz word and talks of how it was influencing media consumption and how it would rewrite the way media was spent, was everywhere.
We are in the year 2014. A lot has changed since then - the digital advertising spends have grown manifolds to over 2200 crore as of December, 2013. We have many more options to spend our digital budget now, from display to search and social marketing. And, there are as many generalist and specialist agencies in the industry. But has this growth been at the rate we expected or deserved?
In search of the tipping point for digital media, there lie roadblocks:
The Approach: The approach to digital has always been half-hearted, as it was considered the medium of the future by most. So advertisers and agencies flirt with the medium and tick mark it for the future.
The Complexity: Yes, digital advertising is a complex subject; there are many factors that surround it. Hence the structure of the industry is also complex, making things more difficult.
What can change?
Everyone knows digital has the reach, and media consumption habits are shifting towards platforms like YouTube and other video platforms, where there are over 54 million unique viewers per month, and Facebook, where about 90 million users spend more than 27 minutes a day. But even now, at the time of allocating the marketing spends, digital comes as an afterthought.
I do not watch television anymore; I catch up on my favourite programmes on YouTube and Facebook; Twitter breaks important news. As for reach, these platforms would be as big as a few television channels. The day YouTube or Facebook are compared to television channels when allocating budgets, we will see the difference.
How can it change?
Collective approach: Digital, being a complex medium, cannot be handled like any other medium. It requires time. It is ever-evolving and the parameters of a successful campaign keep changing. It is easy to blame the agency or the platform used for not getting the expected success in the short period. It is really important to work together to dissect this complex medium to get maximum ROI from it. Just by adding digital as a last minute frill won't help, as then we are not unleashing the true potential power of the medium.
Integration: Digital strategies are usually thought separate from the overall marketing strategy, making it not part of the media mix. Many brands have successfully integrated digital in the overall strategy on the international platform. When digital is the centre point of your marketing strategy, you can't really run away from not spending on it.
Creative talent: A digital campaign is often a mere replication of the offline campaign of the brand. Developing or enabling creative talent that understands the technology may be one of the answers to get things right in the first place.
These are just a few things that can set the ball rolling faster and I still believe the tipping point is near.
Deep Malhotra is the founder and managing partner of Gemini New Media Ventures LLP.