9 Digital Marketing Trends ‘relevant’ for every Indian CMO

Finding the most relevant and unbiased digital marketing trends in India is quite a task for marketers and digital strategists.

Unlike some of the evolved western markets, digital media research is not taken seriously in India. Most of the published studies are sponsored by a SAAS technology player like IBM/Adobe/CISCO etc., which often gives a very biased POV about the digital landscape in India.

Due to lack of India specific trends and insights, most of the Digital marketing trends used by the digital agencies, are global macro indicators which may of may not have any implication for their Indian client.

Needless to remind, as a market, India is an aberration for many reasons.

While most of the digital evangelists keep repeating the same old boring numbers around growth of digital in India, Internet penetration, mobile usage, e-commerce transactions etc., hardly anyone goes beyond the 30,000 feet view to offer more actionable insight to the brands.

Also Read4 Digital Trends which are utterly useless for any CMO in 2017

There are a ton of 3rd party digital trend reports published by various media research companies, digital consulting companies, digital media agencies and marketing tech providers. Often a lot of data is colliding and contradictory.  Also, other than the fact, that everyone is talking about some really “Big Numbers”, there is very little unique insight you can draw from each report.

Out of all, Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report is perhaps the most comprehensive and much discussed in the mainstream business media.

If you are an Indian client,  even that requires a bit of curation. With so much of visual data mentioned in the reports, marketers have a tendency to miss out on simple digital insights which could bring much needed focus to their digital marketing efforts.

Below are 9 digital marketing trends (and corresponding insights) which are super relevant for every Indian brand.

Digital Marketing Trends For Indian CMO

Forget the Desktop

With 80% share in the overall web traffic, Mobile is no more just a ‘part of strategy’. Mobile is the “STRATEGY”

( Also Read : How to approach mobile as a CMO? )

Social Media is becoming a black hole

According to Times DMA Asia CMO Survey, while social media is getting a lion’s share (~35%) in the overall digital marketing budget(including content production). over 1/3rd of CMOs feel that there is immediate need to bring better attribution to their social media efforts.

Clarity on Digital Measurement Metrics would be the most important area of focus in the coming years.

Voice Search would soon replace text

Thanks to enhanced NLP in android assistant and Apple Siri, 70% voice searches are based on natural conversation language.

According to a recent Google release, over 20% search queries have moved to #voice . Clearly, this would have a serious impact on near future digital marketing efforts. SEO & Content teams should start looking for cues in the natural language.

Digital Audience Hate Advertising

According to Mary Meeker study, 1/3rd mobile users are using some or the other ad-blocking app on their phone. Almost a similar number is willing to pay for the content to get rid of ads. Continuously falling CTRs and increased subscribers for OTTs are a case in point, that digital audience hates pure advertising,

In order to stay relevant and get higher engagement, brands must offer more content, less advertising.

Local + Vernacular Content

Local & Vernacular are climbing the charts across all digital studies.  Demand for local and vernacular content is going up YOY. Almost 50% of the current content consumed in India is ‘non English’

Creating ads in multiple languages and tailoring the message for different regions and audience segment is no longer optional if you are looking for wider audience reach.

Audience Trends

Millennial First Audience

Young Millennials are controlling the web, 65% of digital users are in the age group of 15-34 which makes 35% of total population. With such a huge and exponentially rising share in the overall digital landscape, young millennials needs special care during planning.

Every brand must try to gather audience specific trends (especially their digital customer journey) to craft their Millennial First strategy.

Customer Journey Matter More Than You Think

No of customers who stop doing business with a brand after single poor experience is going up every year. Omni-channel customer experience can’t be a non- priority anymore.

Honestly, as a brand, you should stop fiddling with the idea of doing digital. If you are doing digital, you must be prepared to optimise every aspect of your audience’s digital footprint that matters.

4 Digital Trends which are utterly useless for any CMO in 2017

In the words of Dashiell Hammett:

“Who shot him? I asked.
The grey man scratched the back of his neck and said: Somebody with a gun.”

 

If you are reading this post, there is a great chance that you’ve seen, how digital trend (or trends) are presented in various seminars & digital client pitches.

At times, the most basic and obvious information is presented as a “strategic insight”.

Below tweet is an example:

Needless to say, some of these digital trend can make any digital pitch excruciating long and boring.

Also read : How to hire digital marketing agency in India?

A lot of these “so called digital trend” ( & audience behaviour ), which is presented in the name of digital insights by publishers & media planners, adds little value to any strategic discussion.

I am sure clients are equally tired to see these slides in various conferences and pitches.

Below are few examples, which I believe are no longer “digital trends”, they are in-fact “a fact”, and we (as digital strategists and practitioners) must stop discussing & presenting them to our clients, not because they are not true, but because they are “too stupidly obvious to state in 2017“.

I’ve also listed these commonly spotted “digital trends” in the order of their extreme irrelevance.

Digital Trend #1

Digital is growing in India

Dude, like seriously?

If it was not growing, you wouldn’t have been standing there to present it in first place. Our industry has become a 10K cr industry talking about this for years.

From a strategic point of view, what is more important for a client to know is how their category is growing in the digital space.

Digital Trend #2

India Internet Users To Touch X Million by 2020

Fine, there are 200 million FB users, 250 million WhatsApp users etc. etc.

Is that even relevant for any brand? Clearly, no brand would like to target all of them.

Beyond a point, the “grandness” of these numbers are statistically irrelevant for any marketer.

The point that any brand would really like to know is:

a. how to find relevant audience

b. how to scale up their marketing in this large and ever so growing digital landscape of India?

Digital Trend #3

Mobile is BIG!!!

 

Honestly if you ask me, anyone (be it agency or publisher), who is caught even whispering that “Mobile is growing in India”, should be executed in G.O.T style.

I mean cmon guys!

The fact that mobile is a more powerful medium than desktop (or even television) in India, is like announcing that “Pandavas won the battle of Mahabharata” as Breaking prime-time News on Republic TV.

The smartphone growth, or the volume of smartphones getting sold is no longer of “strategic importance”.

What clients really want to hear from their digital agency, is how to create a truly “Mobile first” digital strategy in this complex digital landscape of India.

Digital Trend #4

Video and Content Marketing are like King and Queen

Dude, its like saying “hyper-link would be the next big scientific innovation of 2017”.

I understand, that many clients may not have the same level of digital maturity but calling video and content “as next big thing” is hilarious.

Last I checked, online video is eclipsing TV by a huge margin.

What would be interesting however,  is to tell any brand, how they can create quality engagement on the back of digital video content, which would also impact some meaningful metric in the real world.

Adobe Digital Insights 2017 – A Summary For Indian Brands

A new Adobe Digital Insights report, Best of the best JAPAC, was released, highlighting the internet usage trends demonstrated by consumers in the developing countries and the role played by smartphones in driving new internet users.

Below are the top 5 trends and digital insights from the adobe report:

Shift to Mobile

Adobe Digital Insights Report 2017

Smartphone traffic has grown across all markets, which is also contributing to adding new (first time) internet users.

But that is no longer a new trend, what matters is how the audience in various regions using their devices. Below are the factors which separate the trends from one region to other:

  • Stickiness to content
  • Personalisation

Performance Metrics

Metrics are shifting from Acquisition to Repeat Customer Visit. Below are the key variables for success adopted by most of the enterprise brands :

  • Relevancy & Targeting
  • Customer Experience

Social Media

The new social discourse is all about enabling one to one relationships. Millennials are willing to leave a brand if they do not get active one-to-one attention. This trend is common across all markets.

Website Traffic

Adobe Digital Insights Report 2017

Adobe Digital Insights Report : On Site Website Engagement Going Down

While the traffic volumes are still high in markets like India, but less time is spent on the website content across all key regions (including India).

For Indian advertisers, Paid Search coupled with personalised content is highly recommended to dominate share of wallet in the category.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking in any vertical should be based on following factors:

  • Where are top spenders allocating their marketing money?
  • What is the engagement metric used commonly in the vertical?
  • How to tailor-made tactics and metrics for smaller spends?

India Specific Digital Insights From The Report

  • Volume in smartphone traffic is growing in India across all industry sectors, but grew fastest in Retail with 45.3% average year on year growth, followed by Media & Entertainment sector at 39.2% and Travel & Hospitality at 34.4%.
  • Gaps in smartphone traffic widened dramatically between the best industry performers in the Finance sector as well as Media & Entertainment. Leaders are pulling away to capture higher share of traffic versus their competitors. In this respect, the best performers in Retail had the greatest gap between the best and the rest, with smartphone share totalling 67.8%. Top performers in Media & Entertainment sat at 53.0%. Top performers Finance recorded a much lower performance of 22.1%, suggesting there’s still room for fast-moving and innovative players in this sector to attract customers post-demonetisation phase in the country.
  • Desktop share of visits were down YoY in every industry except for Finance, indicating consumers in India continue to access financial content on the desktop device. Desktop share of visits in Travel & Hospitality and Retail sector decreased the fastest in 2016.
  • Mobile optimisation is playing a big role in helping consumers complete their digital needs faster, reducing their overall online time. This underscores the pressure on brands to get it right the first time, by driving innovative and personalised online engagements.
India Insights were first published on DT News Network

Digital trends for multichannel retail

With the number of e-retail startups entering the landscape, soon retail brands would find it difficult to differentiate the value proposition. Though ecommerce would be driving incremental revenue, for complete business transformation, retail would be focussing on multichannel optimization in the coming years.

According to Neoworks – the ecommerce people:

The focus of retail multichannel improvement will be on people and services, rather than technology and processes. Retailers are asking “how are customers engaging with my brand?” and “how can we design services that will meet the needs of our customers?”. The answers to these questions come through research and data analysis.

Below are some of the Multichannel Retail Trends for 2016 that have dominated various conferences in the last 1 year:

Data storytelling through Business Intelligence

How can we narrate our brand story through data? In short, how can my current data help me take better decisions for my brand? In 2016 we should expect more investment in business intelligence tools and data mining.

Every brand is trying to make some sense of their business data which is piling up at the speed of light. A decision on which data is relevant and which data is just noise is the first step that companies need to take if they want to make sense of all the data that they are capturing.

Need for understanding customer journey during different buying stages

Research evidence has always helped business leaders to make better decisions. In 2016 more retailers will be investing in research to incorporate the voice of the customer in product development and service improvement.

Questions like ‘How should the brand behave in terms of range of products, price, supply chain and services?’ are common areas for voice of the customer analysis.

From a business perspective, the focus on understanding the customers by listening to them and then using the information to market differently, sell differently and support differently as well as redesign processes is becoming a key differentiator for retailers.

Change happens through people, not through technology or processes

Einstein once said:

I fear the day when technology will surpass human interaction, the world will have a generation of idiots.

And he was spot on right. Technology needs to address the pain only till the point it is not pain in itself.

More than technology, for an organization to drive change, they need vision, skills, incentives, resources and an action plan. If one of those elements is missing transformation is not possible.

Successful organisational change is an adaptive process that requires the coordinated efforts of a wide range of people at all levels of an organization that are collectively seeking the same positive outcome.

Integration of the high street with the online e-commerce businesses

Most retailers have a multichannel strategy but only a few are going above and beyond the basic services such as wifi, contactless payment and click and collect.

While Line busting which is a wonderful way to manage your POS (Point of sale) is yet to take off in a big way, clienteling and endless aisle are becoming increasingly visible on the high street around the globe.

Multichannel service design

Service design is an interdisciplinary approach that combines many different tools and disciplines. In 2016 more retailers will be developing humanised services designing customer journeys that are alive and interactive.

Companies that understand the opportunity will support customer needs more effectively. Offering a differentiated and consistent customer experience can strengthen loyalty and generate sustainable value.

Multichannel Reality for Small Business Retail

Traditional stores will certainly exist ten years from now, but they will not look the same as today. Many traditional retailers will disappear as competition remains fierce and input costs continue to rise. Others will fail because of an inability to adapt or to change their business model to a multichannel reality in which boundaries between the online and physical worlds disappear.

The future winners among today’s bricks-and-mortar retailers will be those that take the future seriously and are good at managing change.

Digital Trends for Travel Brands in 2016

Digital trends in the last one decade have shown a massive paradigm change in the entire value chain starting from the local travel operator to multi million dollar enterprise company. Travel is arguably the most evolved vertical in the eCommerce space. After all, it doesn’t take much time for a customer to swipe his credit / debit card once he is convinced about a travel offering.

On one side, Social Media rise has positioned itself as the biggest contributor in the net new revenue growth for travel business, newer platforms are taking scale & customer experience to a new level in the online travel space.

Here are some of the key trends that will impact travel industry.

Mobile and some more mobile

  • Within online travel sales, the mobile channel, including sales made through smartphones and tablets, is expected to see the fastest growth over the forecast period. Global mobile travel sales, including both sales made through intermediaries and direct sales, are expected to record a 40% CAGR between 2013 and 2018, reaching US$350 billion.
  • Behind this sharp growth is the rising trend among consumers to use smartphones and tablets not only for searching for travel products but also to book them. Over the forecast period, consumers will become increasingly accustomed to finalising bookings on smaller screens, while travel companies will make bookings and payments through smartphones more convenient, and average sizes of smartphone screens will increase.

Travel in APAC

  • Asia Pacific is expected to drive global online travel retail growth in the 2013-2018 period, recording a 16% CAGR. Thanks to this rapid growth, Asia Pacific is expected to account for 24% of global online travel retail sales by 2018. Over the 2013-2018 period the penetration of the online channel in travel retail sales in the region is expected to increase from 24% to 38%.
  • Japan and China are by far the largest online travel retail markets in Asia Pacific, at US$15 billion and US$14 billion in 2013, respectively. India is the third largest market in the region, at US$7 billion in 2013, and is expected to record a 14% CAGR over the 2013-2018 period.

The rise of MTA’s ( Mobile Travel Agents )

  • The shift from desktop to mobile internet access is having a significant impact on the travel industry, making smartphones and tablets an important booking channel, as well as customer service tool. Always-connected travel consumers expect to receive customer service, and also the opportunity to make additional bookings, not only before the trip but also during the trip.
  • The rising importance of mobile devices means an increased focus for travel companies on the period after the booking and throughout the whole travel experience. This is expected to result in online travel agencies gradually changing their business model to become mobile travel agencies (MTAs).

4 RTB Programmatic trends for 2017

RTB Programmatic trends have fascinated one and all in the advertising world. The pace at which they’ve grown in the last 3 years have stunned even the hardest of its critics.

Programmatic is projected to touch almost 80% of total US advertising ad-buy by 2017. The programmatic adoption is lowest in china which is projected to touch only 25% by 2017.

Global Programmatic Ad Buying Share

Global Programmatic Ad Buying Share

 

Right from the start of 2014, there is a never ending debate around RTB & Programmatic in the agency corridors, and it looks like in all probability, the advertising baton would be passed on from the conventional Ad Networks to Ad Exchanges & DSPs.

Before you proceed further, you may want to watch the below video by Pete Kluge to understand this increasingly complex Display Advertising ecosystem:

A lot of analysts are calling it a victory for the advertiser who (till recently) was shooting in the dark & a large portion of his dollars were going into the black hole.

No doubt, even the research figures are also skewed in the same direction, according to e-marketer latest report, by the end of 2017, RTB & Programmatic would jointly become $7-8 Billion market which would be 30% of the overall display market in the US.

In 2014 alone, US programmatic spends have clocked over $10 billion which is a clear sign that conventional networks have their task cut out.

RTB-Programmatic-Share-US-Display-Market

The very idea of being in control of what you buy & the transparency of what you pay for is a great motivation factor for any advertiser to pump in more marketing dollars. Till recently, the client had no visibility of where their precious dollars are being spent. All they were getting was bland click thru reports at the end of the month which was far away from the actual business transaction. The ad networks were not even remotely connected to the brand’s business objective.

How does RTB & Programmatic Work?

Agency trading desks have already started to add fuel to this fire by either partnering with the leading exchanges & DSPs or creating their own private RTB-cum-Programmatic marketplace to consolidate the digital buy for all their clients. According to a report by Adage, almost 15% of the brands are already working directly with leading DSPs & another 45% in the process of building their direct relationship with a DSP partner in the near future.

Media buyers are suddenly sitting in the driver’s seat where tools available to them are becoming increasingly sophisticated that covers deep analysis around user behavioural, demographic & psycho-graphic data. The DMPs ( Also watch: Top 5 Reasons to Have a Data Management Platform ) have added more arsenal to the DSP’s bucket by providing them multi-layered audience data points. The planner who was once busy crunching tons of excel data for his client is now having a last laugh. He can virtually run all his brand campaigns sitting inside his cubicle over a cup of hot Starbucks latte. This can also cut down huge resource costs for the media companies as single person would be able to manage entire digital account from his system.

But like they say, nothing comes for free, somebody has to pay the price for this, and it looks like that for now conventional ad networks will be in the line of fire from all corners due to lack of transparency in their DNA.

Here are key RTB Programmatic Trends for 2015:

Verticalisation of the RTB

Since the beginning of our use of data platforms for buying advertising inventory, one thing which has always become a point of debate around the world, and that is how can we apply data to content strategies that go beyond traditional “advertising” and help changing customer behaviour, eventually encouraging buying behaviour. This strategy & tactics should go well beyond boxing up of some large volume of inventory, to personalised solution workflows serving to the needs of specific industry verticals.

Galactic Rise of Programmatic Video

If programmatic ad trading was the success story of 2014, next year the industry will start to see the benefits programmatic video has to offer. Programmatic advertising has experienced stellar growth for the past few years and this is expected to continue – in 2011 global RTB-based spending was $1.4 billion and this is forecast to rise by almost 60% (59.2%) to $13.9 billion by 2016 (CMO.com). Programmatic video is expected to advance equally quickly with 40% of digital video ad spend predicted to come from programmatic by 2016 (source: e-marketer).

Personalisation vs Privacy

In 2014, user privacy & general data protection have received bulk of the attention of the global law enforcement agencies (read about Data Privacy Day ). Advertisers looking for re-assurance from the Ad Exchanges & DMPs that they are not compromising on user privacy compliance of a specific geo. Major industry players (Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo, Google, etc.) that own PII and niche players that specialise in “cross-device” will debate the scale, accuracy and privacy compliance of their IDs.

Multiscreen & Cross Device efficiencies

In 2014, we saw RTB’s & Programmatic began their conversations to a lot companies in global mainstream media and new products and technologies to launch in this space over the next 12 months.

As we respond to mobile’s ability to reach consumers at unique times in unique places we will begin to see developments into how we can reach customers across multiple screens. 2015 may just be the year when Programmatic would bring its efficiencies & returns to large advertisers by allowing them to manage their entire digital media spend across platforms.

 

8 Digital Trends to keep in sharp focus for 2016

Today is the first working day in this calendar year, and if you are a digital marketing professional or entrepreneur, year 2016 holds some great opportunities for you and your organisation.

So whether you are a planner in some digital agency or leading the marketing for some e-startup. Here are some of the key digital and marketing trends to keep in mind before you start your work in 2016:

Trend # 1 – Good News! Digital is poised to surge ahead in 2016 as well

Trend - Digital growth in 2016

Source: FICCI-KPMG, Media Industry Report 2015

The growth in popularity of digital media continued to surge in 2015-16, with a significant growth in digital advertising of 44% due to emergence of ecommerce startups as a significant new category.

Trend # 2 – Mobile Internet is growing, but…

Growth of Mobile Internet 2016

Source: KPMG, India Digital Report, 2015

Smartphones vs Featured Phones Trend 2016

Source : IDC Asia Pacific Quarterly Report on Mobile

While the growth is happening in the mobile Internet users, majority of that growth is coming through the feature phones.

Trend 3 – Growth lies in Non urban towns

Urban vs Non Urban Towns - Online Trends

Source: GWI (Global Web Indiex), 2015

Currently, 80% of the Internet traffic comes from Top 14 cities in India. But this will change very shortly. With schemes like Digital India, there is a huge possibility that the digital divide would disappear in the near future. Is your brand ready for the next 1 billion digital customers?

Trend 4 – Content becomes king as display loses significance in Mobile

Mobile Content vs Mobile Advertising - Trends 2016

Source: WARC-MMA Survey Report, 2015

There is little difference between the most favoured mobile channels in India and the rest of the region, with display (including in-app) advertising the most common today

Display advertising is also expected to lose some significance over this period, falling from 69% adoption in India today to 52% in five years, although it will still be the most-used channel.

Content, including native and ‘advertorial’, is expected to see adoption rates rise strongly over the coming years.

Trend 5 – Search + Social would continue to dominate digital media

Top 10 Digital Media Marketing Channels 2016

Source : Comscore Media Metrix , Oct 2015

Google display, mail, horizontals & and social are dominating the display landscape for sometime. The trend would continue in 2016, in fact this could be the year when the pace of social media growth might surpass search in absolute terms.

Trend 6 – Mobile vs Desktop

Mobile traffic has already witnessed a huge surge. In 2015, Google finally stated that mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic in ten countries. The search engine giant also introduced the Mobilegeddon algorithm update in order to level down websites not optimised for mobile devices. However, you are not required to have a desktop website optimised for mobile, as a mobile version of your website is just enough.

Trend 7 – Technology is dominating the online conversations

Topics of Online Conversations & Searches

Source: Global Web Index (India), 2015

Within the GlobalWebIndex survey, digital consumers are asked if they have recently talked or posted an opinion online about 30 different subjects and product categories. If we rank these in India, it is technology, which dominates – with areas like mobiles and computers coming out on top.

Trend 8 – Mobile strategy will constantly overlap with Social Strategy

Mobile vs Social Media in 2016

Source: WARC Asial Survey, 2015

Considering 70% of audience is consuming social media on mobile only, it won’t be incorrect to say that, in 2016, mobile strategy would continuously overlap with social strategy. This is something the digital planners must keep into consideration before building overall digital matrix.