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Last week Adgully tracked the growth of the digital medium as it brought forth the viewpoints of marketers and industry experts. This week we go one step further and bring to you the opinions of digital publishers. The digital publishers tell us how the year has fared for the medium and what kind of growth can one expect in the near future.
Gyan Gupta – CEO, IMCL exclaims, “The growth for the digital medium has not been very good this year. However, we should not compare the digital with other mediums. A major fact to be considered here is that the digital business in India is still taking shape. It has emerged as the third largest medium in the country. Digital has a long way to go. Instead of assessing growth, the focus should lie on adding value to the product and making it more useful. The money shall eventually come. Sometimes the market rises and sometimes it falls; but that should not take away the focus from the product. Today, products are evolving rapidly.”
He adds, “The first quarter of the year was good for us. The second quarter has just begun so hopefully it shall turn out equally well.” He is optimistic about the increase in growth rate for the medium.
Commenting on the innovations that need to be undertaken for speedening up the process of growth, Gyan says, “Innovations is a matter of what the client is trying to achieve. We all expect the digital medium to bring in innovations. Digital is a medium which is known for its flexibility and so everyone confuses this with innovations. This is the only medium where the users can interact with the brand. What you want out of the interaction will determine what you want to do with it. Innovations cannot be forced. The onus should lie on what you want to achieve and that would define the innovations that need to be done.” He strongly asserts that innovations essentially depend on the objective that the campaign seeks to achieve.
Explaining further, he says, “We have to be clear as to how intrusive the users are. The innovation should necessarily add value and content to the product; in order to be meaningful. It is not about introducing different innovations every time to capture the user’s attention. You can capture the attention, but if the user gets irritated with the captured attention, it leaves a bad impression in his mind. No brand would want an innovation with such a side effect. Therefore, innovations should walk hand-in hand with the brand interaction.”
A similar opinion was expressed by Rajesh Sule, Country Manager: Revenue, Exponential. He says, “Innovation basically depends on the communication for the brand. A large amount of the innovations are going to come out of the kind of communication that you have built for the brand. People are putting the cart before the horse which cannot happen. Innovations are a joint effort of what the brand communication is all about. They have to be interwoven with the medium.”
Talking about the economic slowdown that has affected the digital medium, Rajesh said, “People are talking about slowdown but this seems to be a temporary phase from the perspective of holding back. People are getting back in the groove to see how the budget probably needs to be redeployed in an effective manner. The digital medium will emerge as a winner. The offline mediums will take the beating in terms of crunch in their budget. The advertisers are then going to look at mediums that will help them tie over the rest of the marketing period. Digital will become the key contender for the budget. Although, people are talking about a slight amount of slowdown, there are also brands that are still vocal to an extent. The point is that brands who are sticking to the digital medium will remain active to an extent.”
Commenting on the growth rates that were set for the year, he said, “Multiple areas have spoken about growth rates ranging from 25 % onwards and going upto 40%. I fore see 30-35% growth definitely. A session that I attended pegged the growth at more than 40%. I see that happening.”
Speaking on the future growth anticipated, Rajesh exclaimed, “Historically, one is seeing that the quarter that begins from mid August to October end has been one of the most significant quarters. It can at times contribute to as much as 40% of the overall annual contribution.”
Karthik Kumar - Director, Rage Communications presents an interesting point of view of the economic slowdown. He says, “To the extent that the impact of the business slowdown has been most strongly felt in the automobile and durables sectors, its impact has been quite significant on the digital medium also. The continued reluctance of other mainstream advertisers such as FMCG brands and white goods to come on board continues to be a challenge. However, in terms of growth rates meeting the expectations that were set; given the small base of digital activity, the growth has been good. However, in the larger scheme of things, digital media in India continues to be marginal, which is a bit disappointing, particularly, when many international marketers are using India as a base to develop digital communications for use in other markets.”
Speaking about future growth anticipated, he says, “Relative to international growth, the growth in India is likely to be anemic, even when it is 15%-20%. Internationally, we expect to see a stronger growth as we penetrate further in newer markets, and expect to grow by 25% - 30%.”
Elaborating on the innovations that need to be pushed for achieving better growth rate, Karthik said, “In the immediate future the chief innovations are likely to be centered around mobile devices such as tablets. We would see greater transactions coming in with the growth of smart phones. A third area of innovation would be in the area of Responsive Design that will see the deployment of solutions which work seamlessly across all content devices.”
Krishnan MS, Vice President & Business Head, International & Corporate Advertising, Sulekha.com said, “The first quarter has been a big one for us; we did meet the set goals. Even though performance campaigns have increased we were able to sign up lot more brands in the first quarter.”
Talking about the growth anticipated in the coming quarter, he said, “We expect the 2nd quarter of this financial year to be slightly sluggish but due to our uniqueness we will be able to pull it off. We expect the October-November-December season to be very big in terms of RI advertising because of the festival season and also the NRI because of gifting - which is very popular with Indians in the US.”
Expressing his views on the innovations that need to be introduced in the digital medium, Krishnan says, “We have done many run of the mill innovations but what is important here is the way Sulekha is positioned. I don’t think there is any site which could offer you a combination of NRI - Biggest site in US and Canada, among Indians having services like Classifieds and Ticketing; we are among the top 15 sites in India with a unique combination of transactional + interactive audience which is because of our Social - Commerce approach and Local/City targeting. We can target both the Users and the SME across India, which is beyond the top 8 metros which is again a niche compared to any other site.”
BG Mahesh - Founder & MD, Oneindia opines, “The digital business has grown but a bit slower than what we expected. Our challenges are a bit different as Oneindia is mainly in the Indian language space. But over the last 18 months, advertisers are very receptive to advertising on non-English sites as they do see a huge value.”
Commenting on the future growth anticipated, Mahesh said,” This is very much market driven. The economy of India, US and Europe does play a role. If car sales, real estate market falls it will impact advertising in all mediums, not just digital. But usually digital is impacted the fastest because it is very easy to start and stop a campaign.”
Thus, the consensus that emerged out of the various discussions with industry experts and digital publishers’ voices that although the year has been a tough one for the digital medium, digital has a bright future and a lot of untapped potential, which would be manifested in the coming times.