The second edition of the ad:tech conference, organised by comexposium India, kicked off at JW Marriott Hotel, Sahar, Mumbai. The two-day conference covers different aspects of digital marketing and creative storytelling. The event was sponsored by TikTok ads and ValueLeaf (who were gold sponsors), and Spotify, Snapchat, Tyroo, and Talkwalker were bronze sponsors.
The event kicked off with a panel discussion on content consumption trends in India. The panel comprised of Vikram Chandra, chief executive officer, Editorji; Neha Ahuja, marketing head at Spotify, Ahteram Uddin, TikTok Ads and Bhaskar Ramesh from Google. It was during this session that Uddin brought forward how brands are slowly uncovering the true potential of the Indian market as TikTok might be the first content creation platform for a lot of new internet users in the country.
Uddin mentioned that this gives partner brands an opportunity to connect with their audiences across the length and breadth of the country in a new format — short videos. During the course of this discussion, Chandra mentioned that the future of content lies with ‘snackable’ easy to consume, short content pieces. The panel also highlighted the importance of brands leveraging unique application program interfaces to personalise content for their consumers.
But how much personalisation is too much personalisation? This was one of the key points of the panel discussion on the topic ‘Evolving performance metrics’. The panel comprised of Neel Pandya – head of media at L’oReal, Shweta Srivastava – head of digital, Phillips India, Vishal Parekh - director, Verizon Media, and Puneet Gupt – chief operating officer, Times Internet. The moderator, Rubeena Singh, chief executive officer of iProspect India began the session by talking about how important it is to focus on ensuring a good customer journey — as a fragmented customer journey can cause you to lose customers. However, measuring the consumer journey needs to go beyond measuring clicks and ROI, mentioned Srivastava, emphasising on the fact that marketers are over-measuring clickthrough rates in a bid to measure ROI. Singh ended the session by talking about the importance of integrating data into research so that a marketer has a full view of the consumer, his tastes and preferences.
Another session during the day, continued in the same vein, causing a contrarian viewpoint to pop up — hyper-customisation can actually reduce a brand’s reach. This viewpoint popped up during a panel discussion on ‘The dynamic creative’. The panel comprised of Puneet Gulati – area digital and media lead, GSK India, Srikanth Bureddy – co-founder and director of ValueLeaf, Prashant Mehra – vice-president, marketing at Grofers, and Vishal Rupani – the chief executive officer of mCanvas. The session was moderated by Ritu Arora, India consulting head at Adobe India.
Grofers’ Verma pointed out that personalisation improves efficiency when it comes to reaching consumers, but mCanvas’ Rupani argued that hyper-personalisation had the capacity to turn off a consumer as well if it felt too invasive or if the ad continues to appear, even after the customer has made the transaction. He took a 2012 example of the American retailer – Target that successfully figured out that a teenage girl was pregnant (and sent her a mailer ad for baby products, even before her father was made aware of the pregnancy.
Stephen Dolan, managing director – APAC, IAS, hosted a spotlight session, which is a TED-talk style ten-minute speech on the topic ‘State of ad fraud, viewability and brand safety.’ During his talk, he too emphasised that marketers have a tendency to obsess over clickthrough rates as a means of measuring ROI, but with ad fraud in the picture, it can no longer be counted on as a concrete measure of success, without verification. Dolan told the audience that the most important thing is that advertising keeps creativity and impact at the heart of its storytelling and that the ad in question needs to be seen by the right kind of people — not by bots. He also mentioned that suitability and context are paramount to the ad’s perception and its success.
Marketers struggle with short attention spans on digital, but now there’s a new term that characterises that fleeting, goldfish attention span — micro boredom. Micro boredom refers to the things that people do on their phones in the few moments of boredom that they might encounter in a day (for example, a user checking their social media feeds). The panel consisted of Durga Raghunath – senior vice-president, growth, Zomato, Akshay Mathur – chief revenue officer, Tyroo and head – Snapchat monetisation partnership, Binda Dey – head of marketing, Red Chillies Entertainment, Sonia Khurana – chief operating officer, Digitas India, and Gulshan Verma – senior vice-president and head, client and agency – Hotstar. The session was moderated by Bhavana Mittal, head of media and digital – RP-Sanjiv Goenka group.
During the discussion, Dey mentioned that the main competition Red Chillies Entertainment faces is not from other companies, but with other activities that people do on weekends (such as cooking or going for a long drive). Raghunath agreed, mentioning that the nature of storytelling has changed thanks to the versatility of interpreting content. She added that food and travel are two verticals that have matured in India in terms of content consumption and discovery opportunities.