Digital in a Downturn?

While some would say that the recession is a bad time for everyone in the advertising industry, given the reduced budgets, there’s something interesting for advertisers to look at, and for digital marketing guys to exploit.

Was just going through the report by the same title, at Ogilvy on Recession, and thought of taking some quick notes. What it suggests advertisers do is, not entirely beyond obvious, but rather precisely put together. Obviously, since it’s a free report, every idea ends with ‘ it needs a clear strategy’ , for which you’ll need to go to them!

Summarizing just the ideas :

– Create Virals

– Sponsor smaller properties on the internet that are cheaper, but target your audience

– Use Performance Media – pay only when desired action is performed.

– Sales tactics : Well timed coupons on email and mobile.

– Using  internet microstars smartly would help you get a mega reach and impact

– Create Widgets for blogs and soc nets – they’re cheap, distribute easily and can ‘connect’ the consumer to your brand.

– Get a strategy in place for video distribution on Youtube, it’s free and reaches wide.

– Use Heat Mapping to identify most noticed sections on your promotional e-mails, to optimize them accordingly.

-Get digital distribution rights for all your TVC and print material.

Also, while you’re in the studio for the shoot, you might be able to capture other video pieces – such as behind-the-scenes footage, video greetings from star endorsers, short video teaser shots, etc. – that can later be deployed on  your website, mobile site or on video distribution sites.

– Work with non competitive partners to piggyback on what they’re doing.

-Optimize your digital assets – ( I guess they mean on usability/navigation/information discoverability etc.)

– Avoid duplicate keywords on SEO and SEM. (doesn’t help to  be the first sponsored link for something you’re anyway the second organic link for)

– Elicit consumer ideas and inputs on your website, beyond plain complaints.

– Measure and track your digital activity, returns!

– Monitor Competitor activity

– Optimize media spend with clear focus your business aims.

Worded a little better, this is pretty much what the report says, with an example or two here and there. Can’t ask for a lot in a free report, but well, this would probably be obvious to someone who’s been in the new media space for some time.

However, the  report ends with a good set of action points and I’d recommend a quick read to anyone interested in digital marketing right now.

Brands to use Internet?

Had been toying with this idea of generating ideas for brands about what they could really use the internet for. Though I’m more of an advocate of conversations really ‘using’ internet for what it can do, rather than ideas using internet as yet another broadcast mechanism, alongside TV, Radio et al. As I see it, internet should fit in to the larger scheme of things rather than be a standalone thing, with little connection with what”s going on TV and print.

That, can only happen with the internet becoming a part of the proposals of mainstream agencies for their campaigns. It can’t be a silo of activity handled by a small team outside the main agency – unless they can actually establish a seamless way of communicating and integrating the whole thing together.

As I see it, ideas can be generated rather fast, if you get around to thinking, but it takes a lot more than a head to really put the idea into execution.

It would be just so exciting if I could be in a position to execute all these ideas, or at least discuss them with the powers that be, rather than just sit by myself and make mental pictures!

Coming to think of it, why don’t brands crowdsource ideas for their own marketing! There’s a whole lot out here, including me, who’d only be too happy to see a validation of their idea – by way of acceptance and execution – and not want to really charge money for it!

Shall give a platform for people to apply their creativity and brand loyalty to create something unique!

Interesting. So lets run a competition across b schools to create an ad campaign / plan for a few brands, and put the whole thing together online.

Now this kind of a thing would not be considered a part of internet strategy, but could lead to the most meaningful content being generated on the internet for the brand.

My stream of consciousness, generates ideas! And I can be a lil immodest that, amidst the crap, you’ll find at least some of them worthwhile!

Anyway. I still don’t follow the rules of blogging, I don’t do trackbacks, I read others, but dont’ often comment, or link to them. So I have no right to expect any one else to be reading this blog, or commenting here! But if you did chance upon it some how, might as well let me know you were here, so I’ll at least look you up!

Just realizing that I need to be terse and to the point when making these entries, so the reader doesn’t bored!

If nothing else, the blog will also carry the evolution of me as a blogger! I don’t know how long this streaming of consciousness would last though!

Movie Marketing Online?

Current state of affairs, in a nutshell – Jazzy flash microsites, some media, wallpaper/ringtone downloads, Limited interaction possibilities, No dynamic content. Few Conversations.

Much as they’re high on visual appeal and can impress easily, I wonder if static microsites for brands/movies are the best things to do online. After having spent 10 minutes through the site, browsing through the content, there’s pretty much no reason for me to stay longer, or to ever come back to the site.

I don’t even end up discussing it on the coffee table, or in other online conversations.

I saw some new possibilities being explored with Ghazini, including the 15 minute timer that refreshes the site, to make you ‘forget everything‘, and the entire music of the movie being available for streaming online. comprehensive, but heavy on the bandwidth and static. A wee bit more interactive than most other such sites!

Of course, Ghajini, by far being the best marketed movie ever, only had a limited dependence on the internet to gain its audience. Additional things on the web, were only of a small marginal utility to them.

Before I start generating ideas about what can be done better, and engage the audience more, I find myself faced with the question that with a country full of bollywood crazy people and media do movies really need to bother about being online?

With the current size of the internet audience, and the several other windows for bollywood to get exposure ( mass media and the zillions of bollywood websites), to have it’s own site, may not be all that important to the film. All the site would do, is make a minor contribution.

On a simple metric of it’s importance, is going online in anyway going to help ticket sales? Maybe Yes! It may not be immediately apparent though.

For small budget films looking at the multiplex audience, it could be easier to reach out online. The interesting things to be a combination of ,

– To start with, quality media content around the movie, goes without saying.

– Engaging interactive content – games/ puzzles/quizzes/flash games/guessing games/trivia quizzes/

Could even include setting up a virtual star mannequin, that can be dressed up by visitors, and put up for voting by other visitors in a ‘Hot or Not’ format.

– A dynamic section that is updated daily/twice a week – content, the star blog/microblog, star text/video/audio blurbs/scenes that were edited out in the movie.

– Behind the screen videos, fun that the crew had, or is still having on the sets!

– Section for user generated content – a multimedia message board – greetings to the stars, expressions, fan mail, expectations of the movies.

– I would think the site should start well before the movie trailers start on the television, so the audience end up feeling a part of the movie making process. The movie, is a story, and it’s making, could be a story in itself.

Generate good content, and put it online! It’ll be seen, followed, and passed around.

Having cleared my head, I think it’s all been some general fundaes, and I didn’t find a compelling argument for a movie to take online marketing seriously.

Shall edit and add more points when I do find them. But am sure there’s a LOT more scope for creativity than is being used right now!

On to exploring what brands can do on the internet… lets make some plans, the imagination going wild!

Internet Marketing in India?

Have been breaking my head all day to understand the suite of services that a complete internet division in an ad agency must have, to be able to deliver genuine value to the clients. Got to ensure that the clients are not put off with their early experiments, but instead,  get increasingly excited by what internet can do for them.

Slow moving ad agencies – don’t know what to do what the internet can really do for their clients!

Fragmented small internet Agencies – Digital Marketing and now Social Media Optimization/Marketing. Smart entrepreneurs but limited client access and limited resources.

The Hypothesis, the Ad agency enjoys a long relationship and credibility with the client and would find it easy to get him to experiment. But it doesn’t have the in house competence to create and execute solutions. If we could find a smart way of bridging these Agencies, and build the bridge between the innovative startups and the clients, it could be a rather interesting thing.

To get involved as this interface point, would give me an opportunity to play a role I like the most – the integrator – to bring the different stakeholders to a table.. and get the action going.

Though managing the diverse interests of the stakeholders could be a challenge in itself, it would be interesting. To begin with, try reaching the resources from where they are, and then over a period, build the competence in house, as you go about learning your lessons in understanding the whole thing yourself.

Over a period, however, the big agency would want to develop its own team, rather than outsource the work further to smaller agencies. And the fun part is, the smart guys running the smaller agencies won’t be keen to join the big agencies as employees!

So the quest is, to create a semi independent entity within the agency’s current structure, which enables the freedom to the internet smart guys to work their way, and yet have the resources and client access enabled by the agency. It can’t be a pure employment model.

Ok. A bunch of hypotheses. Only way to do a reality check is to go through the exploration myself.

After writing all this down, and looking at the myriad bunch of activities happening on the web, in a fragmented way, think it’s not SO complicated or overwhelming as it seemed, in the beginning. Lets see if something’s really gotten into my head or not!

Time to make a powerpoint, to visually present my understanding of the whole thing.

The Blogging Challenge

One issue I’ve been facing for the past couple of days is the the frequent mixup of the several ideas and thoughts that have formed themselves into a spagetti in my head. The reason I’m letting them all out, in an attempted organized way is so I’m able to rest peacefully having cleared my head and arrived at the answers that all these thougths should lead me into.

So maybe, let me discover a good way to write a good article/blog!

Think of

Define Outline – what’s it going to be about?

Define Boundaries – What you’re NOT going to delve into.

Expected no. of words to be spent on the topic?

Do you need to provide external information/data to support your reasoning?

Is every word/paragraph – really important? Would it seem incomplete if you remove a word/sentence/para?

Done writing?

First edit the content, is there any useless piece of info that doesn’t add any value?

Next, once done with the right content, see if the language be made any crisper/simpler?

Be a miser with words. Keep it short, simple language.


Lets try following this now!

Lifestreaming for India?

Am borrowing from pheedo about his conceptualization of lifestreaming,

Lifestreaming is the aggregation and merging of multiple RSS feeds into a single point of entry. Once the feeds are setup, the data is added automatically to a Lifestream. The output is a concentrated unique stream of information comprised of a person’s ideas, beliefs, passions, thoughts, and interests – that defines who they are.

And picking up another line from Dosh Dosh’s words reviewing Friendfeed,

Instead of subscribing to a blog with a fixed niche topic, you subscribe to an individual mind. To a person whose qualities or knowledge you trust, thereby letting that person show you around the web.

What emerges is that one would like to follow some early explorers (or thought leaders) who continually do a great job at locating and plucking valuable/interesting bits and pieces on the web, and their bookmarks and favourites are rather refined summarizations of content scattered on the web.

Perfectly suits a situation where ‘the followed’ spends a lot of time online and his ideas, beliefs, passions etc. are reflected in his online behaviour itself. An inherent assumption is that the content that’s of interest is abundantly available online, waiting to be sifted through.

Which is where, there’s scope and need for localization of content – Political opinions I’d subscribe to, songs I’d listen to, videos I watch etc. The model wouldn’t add enough value till the online behaviour really starts reflecting the personality.

Of course, in a globalized world connected 24X7, the savvy ones in India are also on the same plane as their American counterparts in terms of access to content, interest in English music, films and literature and interest in reading about the latest global developments in technology and social media. So they would see value in following some guides in their explorations.

The content has a significant component of stuff relevant and useful only for internet users, or computer users.

What happens to our mainstream? We don’t have experts or opinion leaders who’d navigate through social media foraging for good content and serving it to us. At best, we have friends who spend a lot of time online and fish out good stuff and share it.

Maybe, lifestreaming for India – would become interesting – if you were to track my activity beyond social media – like If i’m looking through matrimonial and starting a conversation, applying for a new job. You track when I book a movie or a play ticket and let my friends know, you track my travels and hotel reservations on air/train and add to my lifestream! You also know when I bought a book from amazon, or rented a CD from seventymm or picked up something from ebay or downloaded new music to my itunes!

Or else, if you really want to understand my beliefs, personality and passions, stream my life offline. Capture it when I am having bhutta at a beach, walking on the sand barefeet, capture it when I’m chatting with a street kid who came to sell me a magazine, stream my job interviews.

My life, is a lot more besides and beyond the Internet. I’m an average Indian.

That’s what comprises my life! Can you stream all this?

It would end up being a somewhat social, somewhat utilitarian application – part of it about keeping in touch, part of it about discovering new interesting things.

Good Time to Startup?

With a good part of my digital media consumption coming from international blogs, typically talking about the startup and technology scenario in the US etc, I figured I needed to spend some more time closer home, understanding Internet in India, what the user behavior is like, what’s really happening and what’s expected to happen!

With financing drying up and the risk appetite of investors on a low, for a startup, these are the best of times and these are the worst of times.

Best of times, because if you can live through this, survive, evolve and grow through this phase, there’ll not be many survivors left at the end of the game.

Worst, because if you’re not among the survivors..

Got only the Internet in India 2007 report, coz the 2008 one is still paid! If the hypothesis I’m getting to from my preliminary exploration is correct, the picture isn’t particularly exciting for startuppers looking at the Indian Market.

But then, as the story goes,
Two sales agents of a shoe company went to Africa, a few centuries ago. On their return, one reported, ” Terrible news, they don’t even wear shoes there, there’s no market”

The other said, ” Glorious opportunity, the whole market is available, they don’t have shoes there yet”

The problem however, is you need to survive and sustain while you wait and see people learn wearing shoes!

You gotta be in it for the long run(means, have the capacity to stick around), or perhaps come back later!

Sure there are no bad times if you can really innovate and capture the fancy of the mass of indians – who’re happy chatting/mailing and orkuting, love to listen to music online and a smaller section, that watches videos too!

If you’re committed and decided upon sticking around, good Luck, may the force be with you