Yesterday morning's Economic Times carried three ads that got me wondering about the entire 'digital marketing' bit in India.
The newspaper should be congratulated for demonstrating that pure digital marketing does not work in India. It managed to get three large claimants of digital marketing expertise to use its famed reach and efficacy to drive leads.
But this has only added to the fire started by P&G's Marc Pritchard, by calling the digital agencies to come clean on digital media's crappy supply chain and opaque viewership metrics.
Now let's go back to the ads...
iCubesWire claims to expose the digital message of the brand to 100 million internet users every month. This is a substantial number by any stretch of the imagination. As an agency that promises to be driven by ROI and making every penny of marketing money count, this is a phenomenal waste of money. At least this is what is always said about print advertising - that it cannot be measured and that ROI is suspect. Maybe in an alternate reality, print works better for generating leads. This is the simple reality of business; the process of lead generation start with awareness and the traditional media model delivers on awareness in ways that digital cannot. At least one digital agency agrees.
Salesforce.com is a CRM provider and offers some of the highest end tools used by brands for tracking, measuring and creating intrusions in the consumer journey. Salesforce is a regular advertiser in this paper. Subtly, the message from them is that awareness matters and mass media is the most optimum medium to do so.
Of the three, it's Accenture that uses print to drive a wider Accenture-based conversation and not so much about what they do. Also, the smaller digital conversation is couched in the wider strategy conversation. Clearly, here too, Accenture is looking at driving digital marketing conversation using mass media.
This is where the claim of the digital marketing segment of being able to drive leads for brands in the most effective way needs to be looked at with a fresh perspective. Is it the most optimum way of generating leads? Is only-digital the best way for many brands to interact with consumers?
The brands always knew the answers; now thanks to the morning newspaper, even the agencies and tool creators have sent the same message out.
If anything, the conversation of print dying in India needs to be put to rest.
(The author is chief strategy officer and managing partner of Bang in the Middle.)