Recently, I had the opportunity to interact with a few of my friends, avid marketers, who were juggling with the thought of embracing digital media marketing in addition to the traditional marketing methods. Their exposure thus far had primarily been on the traditional media front and they had a predisposition to offline channels. Despite having explored a few aspects of digital marketing, some of these industry experts believed that traditional marketing channels provided better scale and flexibility. Having worked extensively in both these areas for a while now, my views are decidedly more new age.
Digital marketing, like traditional media, consists of different channels that vary in effectiveness at different levels of the targeting funnel. Search (paid and organic), social media (paid and organic), display banners, email, video, native – all of them come handy at different phases for a marketer. As with using a mix of TV, Print, outdoor, CRM mailers, events and point of sale promotions in traditional marketing, in an online world, video builds awareness at the top of the Funnel, Facebook builds word of mouth and Google zeroes in on who is looking to buy *right now*.
Real-time analytics, low entry barrier and high efficiency are but a few advantages of the digital marketing medium. Let me detail a few others:
1. Measurability – Imagine this. You run a billboard, a TV and a print campaign together for your new launch and you want to determine which channel has been the most effective. Not sure, are we? Digital channels (be it programmatic display, search, social or anything else), on the other hand, allow you to unambiguously measure the results with what is called Attribution. You can determine whether to attribute a sale to the last mile driver (typically google or retargeting), to the engagers (social) or to the display campaign that initiated awareness. You can also allocate percentage share of the credit and your system does the rest of the calculation.
2. Feedback loop – Audience insights, obtained from studying the online behavior of your audience, aids in building a feedback loop into your campaign optimization. That means determining the publishers who gave you best ROI on day 1 and discontinuing the non-efficient channels as early as on day 2. You can correct course quickly, almost immediately.
3. Targeting campaigns towards a relevant audience – Aha! Imagine using traditional channels to reach all the women in a City’s shopping district planning for a beach vacation in April and hence looking to buy beach-wear. Impossible you say? Now try again, this time with digital media. It gives you the flexibility to target your campaign towards a more relevant audience group by including device, city, GPS-based location, interest groups, in-market groups and various other demographic, psychographic and technology segments. Now we’re talking!
4. Low wastage – With digital advertising, you can ensure that only your audience of interest sees your campaigns. Compare that against a billboard on a highway and tell your agency that you intend to pay for only the people who drove a sedan There – low wastage, reduced spill-over.
5. Personalized messaging – If you have been tracking your buyer behavior and you understand their browsing patterns, a digital platform allows you go one step ahead of customization and personalize your messaging to grab eyeballs. We show you products that you are interested in via a process called dynamic creative optimization that decides which creative would pique your interest.
6. It is for everybody, small or big – Now, for the important question – how much should you spend? The investment upfront is almost negligible. You can run a campaign with a small budget or large; it’s really your choice. And low upfront investment makes it a level playing field for smaller players. My own Organic products can really be seen along with global CPG brands, where I choose, when I choose, to the audience I decide on, and at my preferred scale. Most of the digital channels also offer flexibility to change gear in order to meet requirements any given time based on your need. Most importantly, there is no lock in. You can choose to play at your own pace.
7. Fast start up – Set up account, pay, create campaign and manage. Most digital channels really are that easy to manage. You can do them on your own. However, from my experience, someone with expertise will be able to do it more effectively and efficiently than a digital marketing newbie. Go get started. You can be certain that your competitors have their digital marketing campaigns underway already!
8. 24×7 machinery – With traditional channels, there is no way to confirm your advertising efforts are indeed productive and being noticed. Your TVC can’t be aired all the time. With digital campaigns by your side, you really don’t have to worry about this. You can achieve all-day exposure. Isn’t that fantastic?
Does this mean traditional media can be completely done away with? Unlikely, especially in a market like India. As consumers, we spend a lot of time offline as well. You wouldn’t want to lose out on opportunities to reach your audience when they aren’t actively consuming their internet bandwidth now, would you? This is where your traditional channels kick in. When you don’t want to miss watching a turning point in your favorite game or that nail-biting moment on Game of Thrones, (although personally I am browsing on my mobile at the same time – second screen usage is a topic for another blog) you can’t avoid TVCs. There are multiple other situations where running both digital and offline media in parallel is a perfectly legitimate choice.
Needless to say, it’s important to find the right balance between the traditional and online media mix, which today’s smart tech-savvy marketers agree with. The split really depends upon the industry and the brand. As for my friends, they saw the light at the end of our discussion; they’re starting digital campaigns next week :).
Arun Soumya Mukherjee
Head of Operations, Digital Media Planning and Buying at Datawrkz