E-comm marketers on the wonders and woes of advertising on TV

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | February 02, 2016
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A roundtable organised by afaqs! in association with Amagi witnessed leading e-commerce players discuss the opportunities and challenges of television as an advertising medium.

Marketers from eight e-commerce companies operating across categories participated in the Amagi e-commerce Roundtable, recently held at The Leela, Gurgaon. The discussion, which centred around the topic Disrupting TV as a Medium of Choice for Building Brands, had Soumya Mohanty, vice-president, IMRB, as the panel moderator.

Some of the key points discussed by the panel included the convergence of television and digital as key trends, measurement of RoI (Return on Investment), changing consumer behaviour, and how to leverage the medium in a better way.

Photo-op: The speakers, sponsors and the moderator at the amagi e-commerce roundtable

In a bid to disrupt TV as a medium for marketers for building brands, Amagi has been trying to personalise television by giving them reach through geo-targeting capabilities. Edited excerpts of what the participants said:

Baskar Subramanian, co-founder, Amagi Media Labs

Baskar Subramanian

The way users consume content is more important than the medium. Video (both on television and digital) has been the most emotive medium which influences people. Brands work because of the emotive trust that is being created through the communication model that video provides. Fundamentally, television is not just a screen but a medium of storytelling. It is going to transform and will go on IP networks. It is becoming more addressable and personalised. We help advertisers in identifying their target group, number of people to be reached uniquely and frequency of reach. Meanwhile, globally technology is being employed to solve the problem of uniqueness in terms of reach - knowing if the TV viewers are the same the a brand will be tracking on a mobile device.

Ankita Dabas, co-founder and director - strategy, Fab Furnish

Ankita Dabas

It is easy to track metrics such as traffic and conversion on every rupee spent on a digital campaign. While television brings trust and scalability for the brand, my pain point remains efficiency. I have to continuously inspire my customer because furniture, as a category, is not an impulse buy. For that, I cannot rely on television.

I wish technology will solve the problem of attribution and efficiency of television as an advertising medium.

Prabhakar Tewari, CMO, PayU Money

Prabhakar Tewari

My first brush with TV advertising happened in 2005 for Marico's hair oil brand Parachute. For that kind of brand, heavy weightage had to be put upon the beginning or end of the month as that is the period of the buying cycle. When Danone entered India, it was launched in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, but we had to buy national TV spots to promote it. There is no option of geo-targeting.

For a wallet brand such as PayU, the requirements and challenges are different from those of FMCG brands. Each brand has to figure out what works best for it and choose the mediums accordingly. Technology must solve the problem of convergence, attribution, RoI and measurement of TV advertising.

Sai Narayan, vice-president - brand, PR and social media, PolicyBazaar

Sai Narayan

This is an exciting time for e-com players who target a consumer through TV when they have a mobile phone in their hands. If the communication is engaging they will search the brand instantly. Therefore, it is a merger of the highest reach medium (TV) and the fastest growing medium (digital). I think appointment viewing is dying. While a consumer is watching television alone, he/she is communicating to the world through the smartphone.

Awareness will come from highest reach medium (TV), but the fastest growing medium will be the convergence of both digital and television.

Rahul Sethi, COO and head - marketing, Royzez

Rahul Sethi

We spent crores on TV advertising in November last year and got adequate mileage. But, while evaluating the RoI, we realised that though we did invest in the right places, the amount was not right.

Brands must highlight their objective while selecting a medium. If sales is the sole objective then they may leverage digital and for brand building there are other mediums. However, the main challenge with TV advertising continues to be the ability to calculate RoI.

Manav Sethi, group CMO and head, digital strategy, AskMe

Manav Sethi

The size of the container really defines the kind of medium you should pay for. But, if a start-up wants to target a regional market, it should not even look at TV advertising.

The radical difference is that today, I do not have the luxury to rely on patterns and trends that a FMCG marketer has. There is sufficient learning while acquiring media for big brands because they know consumption behaviour and trends. E-commerce players do not have that luxury. I will still need television to build consumer trust, but addressability as to who is watching the brand's TV ads continues to be major challenge.

Gaurav Nabh, marketing director, Koovs

Gaurav Nabh

Investment made in TV advertising will translate into a spike in website traffic and consumer awareness. It leads to conversations around the brand. However, from an efficiency standpoint, a stand-alone campaign will not take a brand anywhere.

The story is not about the medium, but the consumer as well as the content. The power of great content is bigger than any medium. Brands and marketers are creating content for TV and then using it in other mediums without realising that consumption patterns and devices differ. There is no currency to measure video advertising except YouTube views along with GRP and additional data.

Nitin Agarwal, associate vice-president - marketing, Shopclues

Nitin Agarwal

First brands build expectation through TV campaigns, then they have to meet them and that is how they get into the rut of TV being the performance marketing channel.

For most online brands, the landscape is constantly changing. We are reaching out to more regions, consumers are graduating to the consumer segment, buying new category products, and their lifestyle choices are becoming better.

Today, the shelf life of our ads is short-lived. We have to find new ways to present the same thing otherwise it will cause consumer fatigue. The surround (radio, print and OOH) that used to accompany TV is moving to digital.

Abhimanyu, associate vice-president, Stayzilla


I believe earlier brands were selling products for life. Vicco Vajradanti is an example of that. In the last 18 months, the push towards television is due to venture capitalists. And, that is reflected in the kind of campaigns we see today. We, too, face a similar challenge because Stayzilla is selling an intangible experience and the purchase happens weeks or months after the campaign breaks. If you are building experiential brands, you are constantly tugging at the emotional string. So, a TV campaign may mean increased traffic, but it may not result in spike in business. Stayzilla needs to build itself as a long-standing brand just the way a Vicco Vajradanti is.

Rashmi Kochar, director - marketing, Amagi Media Labs

Rashmi Kochar

We started Amagi with an idea to disrupt television as a medium of choice for building brands. Unlike radio, print and digital which can be targetted, television was the only anomaly. This is where Amagi brings value to the advertiser by helping them target TV. Today, it is geo-targetting largely. The content consumption on TV is changing owing to emerging over the top (OTT) platforms. Our mission is to make television a personalised medium.

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