Mumbai: On 26 April, when Varun Duggirala changed his status on social networking site Facebook from ‘being single’ to ‘in a relationship’, his friends flooded his page with comments and ‘likes’.
Within an hour, they received a notification—‘Single is boring. Twosome is awesome’, which also cajoled them to click on dieselturnstwo.com to claim discount coupons for an offline sale of fashion brand Diesel. Unknown to them, the notification was part of a viral campaign created by Duggirala’s company, Glitch Media Pvt. Ltd, to promote the sale that marked Diesel’s second anniversary in India.
The campaign resulted in 35,000 visits to the website within three hours of the activity.
“To make the anniversary sale viral, we developed a website where people could generate their own personalized discount coupon to claim their discounts. This site was then promoted though a digital flash mob,” said Duggirala, co-founder of Glitch Media.
Earlier this year, L’Oreal India Pvt. Ltd launched its new cream BB through a digital campaign that trended on Twitter and got close to 6 million impressions within three hours.
The BB campaign saw the cosmetic products and hair care company, with brands including Maybelline, and Garnier, asked men to use the acronym WTF—short for “women take forever”—and post their views on its Facebook page.
Grabbing likes: Shoppers Stop Ltd has the eighth largest Facebook fan page among brands online in India with three million likes. Phoro: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Close to 40,000 men responded.
Experts note that as the interest level in digital campaigns has risen, so have the spends on social media campaigns and mobile apps. And though the spend on digital media remains a fraction of that on TV, advertisers are willing to pay for campaigns that are created solely for online channels, given the promise that India’s 120 million plus Internet users, many of them young people, hold out.
According to the 2012 report on media and entertainment by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and KPMG, digital advertising in India is projected to grow to Rs 1,990 crore from Rs 1,540 crore in 2011 while the total advertising pie is estimated to swell to Rs 82,300 crore in 2012 from Rs 72,800 crore in 2011.
The report estimates digital advertising will expand at a compounded annual growth rate of 30% to Rs 5,700 crore in 2018.
“Digital medium spends at the company are growing in triple digits as compared to overall advertising spends that are growing at 30% per annum,” said Satyaki Ghosh, head consumer product division, L’Oreal. He added that in the case of brands like Maybelline, digital medium spends account for 50% of the overall advertising budget.
The largest medium in the UK with more than 33% marketshare is digital, followed by TV and print, according to Mahesh Murthy, founder and chief executive, Pinstorm, a pay-for-performance digital marketing company.
“Digital is quite large in the US too, with a 18% share of revenues. It’s still relatively small in India with around 6.5% share today, but Pinstorm expects that number to cross the 10% mark in the next two years,” said Murthy.
Over the last 2-3 years, marketers have been viewing digital advertising as an important mix in their ad spends, according to Rohit Raj, co-founder of Glitch Media. “Spends have gone up by at least 25-30% in the last two years,” he said.
According to industry estimates, digital campaigns and mobile application designing start from as low as Rs 1-3 lakh and can go up to Rs 10-20 lakh, depending on the level of complexity.
“The consumption pattern in India has been dominated by television. It is only in the last few quarters that we’ve witnessed a decline in television-viewing habits,” Murthy said. “Just one digital company, Google India, has around Rs 100 crore ad revenue. Rest of the biggies like Yahoo, Rediff and Indiatimes have ad revenues less than Rs 100 crore. It is because historically the Indian market’s ad sales have been performance driven, unlike the global scenario. Consequently brands are conservative in their spends on the digital platform.”
But the scenario is changing rapidly.
“India is set to be an innovation hub, setting trends for the future with half the country’s population below 25 years old,” noted Jon Cook, chief executive and president of VML, the digital marketing arm of WPP Group, in an 18 July interview. “It is the second-fastest growing digital market in the world, the third-largest Facebook market, the sixth-largest Twitter market with 13 million accounts, and it has the second-highest base of LinkedIn users in the world.”
Brands are waking up to the shift in the content consumption patterns of audiences.
Sample this: Shoppers Stop Ltd, which runs the department store chain Shoppers Stop and hypermarket chain HyperCity, has the eighth-largest Facebook fan page among brands online in India with three million likes. Its videos on youtube.com have got close to 600,000 views.
Deodrant brand Axe’s community page on Facebook is in excess of 10 million fans, of which approximately 4 million belong to the Axe US page. With Axe India contributing more than 2.5 million, it’s the second largest contributor to the global fan base.
Advertisers are also using new media platforms to build conversations around their brands.
Reliance Communications Ltd, for instance, used Monday morning blues to create a brand connect with its third generation or 3G service and a buzz about the Reliance Android “Be Blue” campaign. On a Monday morning, it ran a campaign across micro-blogging site Twitter, generating more than 800 tweets in an hour. “The idea was to get India to shift its mindset towards making it (feeling blue) a happy sentiment,” said Zafar Rais, chief executive, MindShift Interactive Pvt. Ltd.
He added: “Initially, it was movies driving social media advertising campaigns. Over time, other categories such as automobiles, telecoms, fashion and lifestyle brands, fast moving consumer goods too have warmed up to spending their monies on this form of digital advertising.”
Auto maker Tata Motors designed a social media road trip for its Nano that was only webcast on youth channel MTV’s website in May, in a bid to change the perception about the car and convince potential customers that it was reliable enough for long road trips.
“There are many misconceptions about the brand. So either the company screams and says this is what we stand for, or we give consumers a live user experience that will help give clarity to others as well. And the campaign worked well for Nano,” said Habeeb Nizamudin, chief growth officer, Lodestar Universal, the agency that handles media buying and planning for Tata Motors.
In 21 days the initiative generated more than 100 videos, over 100,000 tweets and 1.4 million impressions online.
Will such campaigns translate into sales? Experts said advertisers should look at the digital medium holistically.
For instance, while the digital medium is the fastest-growing medium for Shoppers Stop, “it is difficult for the company to estimate what percentage of its sales come due to an online promotion or campaign”, said Vinay Bhatia, customer care associate and vice-president, marketing and loyalty.
Murthy said this is already the case. “Indian clients tend to look at digital holistically—not just in terms of ad spend,” he said.
Digital campaigns can help improve brand perceptions. “Poor response times to negative comments, if not managed and addressed in time, have the potential to create an online inferno which could damage the brand’s reputation for a long time to come,” said Kedar Teny, category head, deodorants, Hindustan Unilever Ltd.
Murthy concluded: “We simply have far better ad sales people and efforts in TV and print than we have in digital. Digital needs more committed evangelists. After many years of effort though, the tide is beginning to turn.”