A look into the future of digital advertising, through six tenets.
*CHIME* go his glasses...as he wears his Google Glass to receive the incoming call. He screens the phone number by glancing at the display, taps on the touchpad and selects Accept. He hears the words "Please get here fast. We need you here in 15 minutes". The voice on the other end sounds very urgent. He ends the call, wears his jacket and picks up his sling bag pack, that has 'digital whiz' written on it, and gets on the super fast Mumbai Metro to reach his destination - to meet the brand head who just called him, to save 'the brand'!
The glass door opens and we see him facing a big conference room filled with people panicking and looking towards him as someone who can save them from the doomsday ahead. "We were waiting for you", he hears a stern similar voice from behind. He takes a seat in the crowded room - the room goes dark and a long presentation starts. The presentation, delivered by a worried-looking brand assistant, is on the problems faced in the launch strategy of the brand that targets 15-30 year olds.
Lights are back on, the brand assistant concludes his presentation on the problems. All are looking towards the digital saviour for the solution. He gets up and takes the centre stage. The problem, he says, is that we are not reaching out to our target audience through the right media. The solution sounds simple, although the execution is what matters. He starts laying down the ground rules to utilise the digital media to its optimum level:
1. Smaller the screen, smaller the attention span: You don't just replicate your detailed media message on digital media. Be crisp and you will see your message crack with the audience. Leverage your existing content from television by extending your conversation on digital. And yes, it will definitely help developing or hiring a Createchie in your marketing team/agency, i.e. creative talent who understands technology.
2. The right combination is important for the perfect taste: Don't think of a medium in isolation. Mix digital with offline media - a potent cocktail - with a good mix of print and television, with digital driving the taste; it works best for a great high in reach and ROI. You should build the brand with digital as the core ingredient, and not just as a topping to make it look good.
3. Know which digital alcohol to use for what drink: Search advertising gets you the people who are searching for the solution through your product, while social media influences the fence-sitters, and video can help increase engagement with the brand. Now, a smart combination can get you maximum kick in ROI. Integration of social media platforms with mobile-based messengers has given us laser sharp targeting capabilities now. It can encourage users to be hooked on to your brand and ultimately transact using their smartphones.
4. Don't do video just because it is sexy: It's important to have a video with good content, preferably humorous, rather than having a good-looking video. Try delivering the message with humour, it goes a long way virally. You can make specific content targeting your audience on digital. It is important for content to engage with the audience you are targeting. Smart placement of your brand in a popular relevant webisode series which has million viewers per week, will help for brand association.
5. Don't be uptight on digital: A brand needs to have its values, but it needs to be human online - you need to open up. Digital is a great medium to help you get feedback from your customers directly - ride on it, don't shy away. Usually, how viral the review or comment about your brand will go, depends on how negative it is - don't be scared by this. It is important to address the negatives voiced by your customers online by your communication team first as it can influence thousands of customers in no time. Hiring an Online Communication Manager will help in fixing such situations quicker. If you are not open to feedback, social media isn't for you. In which case, your brand is already dead.
6. Try to achieve minimum to get maximum results: It helps to have a single objective, for example, 'build engagement', 'get maximum reach' or 'drive sales', rather than getting jumbled up with too much to achieve through your digital strategy. It is important to go beyond the basic metrics of CPM or CPC and look at the cost of getting users engaged with the brand in the form of CPE - Cost Per Engagement. And you know this already - the internet has massive reach covering the smallest of the towns in the country, but your communication might get lost in the space unless you focus with a targeted approach and objective in mind using the features that digital media can offer.
He registers the gradual relaxation of expression of the audience as his presentation progresses. Just then, he hears a familiar ringtone, and starts searching for the phone in his pocket. Realisation strikes as he open his eyes to the ringing iPhone on the bedside. He gets hold of it, sees the phone number and slides to receive the call.
He hears a familiar urgent voice on the other end. "Please get here fast, we need you". He smiles and gets to the job of building digital the right way now, in the year 2014.
(The author is co-founder and managing partner of Gemini New Media Ventures. Previously, he has worked with Google, MySpace, Rediff.com and Onmag.com. He also consults with internet/mobile-based companies on revenue/digital strategy)