Richa Vij

IAMAI India Digital Summit 2008: ‘There is no such thing as an offline agency’

The second session discussed behavioural targeting, while the fourth session talked of online and offline media

The second session of the IAMAI India Digital Summit 2008 was titled Empowerment of the User and the Humanisation of the Online World. The session focused on the new problem facing the online advertising industry: marketers’ intrusion in the users’ online experience by tracking their activities in the name of behavioural targeting. Social networking sites and advertising networks give marketers an opportunity to track the online activities of their users and send them promotional messages.

Esther Dyson, chairperson, EDventure Holdings (USA), said, “Behavioural targeting, a growing trend in the US, is considered to be a scandal. User data (online) is surreptitiously used for commercial purposes.” EDventure specialises in analysing the impact of emerging technologies on economies and societies.

Dyson said that the Federal Trade Commission, the consumer protection body in the US, is making new laws to protect consumer privacy so as to prevent misuse of surfers’ online data. She suggested that new sites like (much like lets users decide whether to give out information about themselves to advertisers, unlike ad networks.

Also on the panel, Ashish Kashyap, CEO,, said, “For an Indian Net user who has just got onto the Internet, the concept of privacy hasn’t begun as yet. That’s happening more on the mobile.”

IAMAI India Digital Summit 2008: ‘There is no such thing as an offline agency’
Mark Read
IAMAI India Digital Summit 2008: ‘There is no such thing as an offline agency’
V Ramani
IAMAI India Digital Summit 2008: ‘There is no such thing as an offline agency’
Ravi Kiran
Session moderator Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia, Starcom Media Vest Group, said, “Most smart advertisers around the world know that it is not easy to get the attention of the consumer and that intrusion is not the best way of communicating with them.”

In the fourth session, called My Vote is With the Digital Media – What About You?’, Mark Read, director, strategy, WPP, and CEO, WPP Digital (UK), showcased some interesting figures: The constituted market capitalisation of the Top 4 Internet firms – IAC, Yahoo!, Google and MSN – in the US ($585.9 billion) is more than that of the top media companies, VIA, Disney News and Times Warner ($215.3 billion).

Read added, “In mature markets, this is a very challenging phase for traditional media. One difference in India from other markets is that growth of other media (such as radio, TV and OOH) is also happening.”

In his tongue-in-cheek style, V Ramani, co-founder and vice chairman, Connecturf, talked about Babugiri, Dadagiri, Ghumaogiri and Bewaqoofgiri, all of which are hindering Internet advertising in India through mental blocks in the minds of marketers who don’t fully understand the medium.

Ramani added, “Traditional offline agencies do not have the capacity to handle a client’s online needs. Online is not just about media buying – it’s about knowing surfer behaviour on a site, using Web 2.0 and search optimisation. In online, branding is more fragmented and difficult to manage.”

Vishnu Mohan, CEO, APAC, Havas Media, begged to differ; he said, “It’s not about selling the medium (online) as a substitute for TV. It’s about understanding the nature of the product and about using online to complement traditional media.”

Read also had his differences. “There is no such thing as an ‘offline’ agency. All agencies have to integrate both online and offline media, but sometimes, clients want to work with specialist digital agencies too,” he retorted.