Here’s why digital marketing agency face high attrition rates

digital-agency-attrition

Lack of skilled digital marketing talent and high attrition rates of existing resources has literally choked the growth of digital agencies in India.  This trend remains consistent across independent local agencies and large global conglomerates. Based on my past discussions with few leading recruitment consultants, in managerial roles, the average attrition rate stands at around 10%, but the overall attrition rate in the advertising space is around ~30% and it remains in the same range for digital startups.

Although, global network agencies like the Publicis, WPP, IPG, Dentsu etc. face less challenge compared to their local counterparts due to their bigger bench strength and the number of opportunities within the group companies.

Human capital is the back bone of any service sector company, but poor human capital management makes digital agencies in India extremely vulnerable to the concept of attrition.

Why is attrition rate so high across digital agencies in India?

Agency work culture demands highly skilled & motivated employees which is a rarity in these times. Most of the people are working for fast career growth (financially or otherwise). While skilled employees have more than enough opportunities to choose from at any given point of time, exponential growth of digital advertising in the country has resulted in high demand and less supply of skilled manpower.

In my decade long experience as a digital marketing expert, I’ve worked with all type of digital organisations, from big agencies to large enterprise companies and the early stage startups, but when it comes to attrition, digital agencies are the most vulnerable lot.

Here are some of the key reasons for high attrition rates in digital agencies:

Dynamic digital projects

Over the years, digital projects have become more and more non-linear, courtesy the growth in the number of digital channels & platforms. There is so much to learn for digital professionals that nobody like sameness in their daily job.

Newer challenges

Employees in digital agencies are always looking for newer opportunities and would like to challenge themselves on a daily basis to increase their productivity and create innovative campaigns using unique ideas and technology. In agencies where the clients are more open to innovation and experimentation, get to retain a lot of their creative & servicing talent. And, that’s a fact!

No time for upgrade

With such enormous pressure of timelines and delivery, it is very difficult for the talent in digital agencies to upgrade their knowledge & skill. Most of the digital client servicing professionals have not done any specialised certification (like GA or Analytics), nor they intend to do it. There’s a time when everyone feels that they are hitting a dead end in their learning. At that very moment, they call it a quit.

Poor Appraisal Policies

There is no doubt that a lot of people (including myself) work in the digital marketing and media business for the sheer romance of it. But you cannot ignore the monetary compensation aspect, especially when majority of the workforce is hired on entry / junior level. I agree money is not the only motivating factor but, it definitely complements when the job satisfaction is high. A lot of agencies use operating income as an excuse for poor appraisal because they have signed high value clientele by compromising their profit margins, which lead to poor employee appraisals and eventually high attrition rate.

High work pressure

Being a part of service sector, advertising industry was always a high pressure affair. Words like ASAP are extremely popular in the client – agency parlance. There is no respite or escape for the execution teams including servicing, strategy, creative, media and social. Single creative resource is working across 2-3 live project at the same time, leaving him with little mind space to churn out ideas. The situation is a lot worse for client servicing teams who have to turn themselves into an octopus in order to manage multiple conflicting project timelines across multiple teams. The result is, only the tough hearted survive the onslaught, while the rest start looking for greener pastures.

Digital Marketing for CMOs – rocket science or a piece of cake?

digital marketing for cmo - rocket science or a piece of cake

In 2016, I completed a decade long career in the world of digital marketing and advertising. Over the years, I’ve seen the nature of client queries & problem statements changing quite dramatically. From a very simple one liner like “We want to do something in digital” to “How can we generate leads through digital?”, and the most recent one, “How can we do digital transformation of our business?”.

Arguably, brands in India have evolved significantly when it comes to their receptivity towards digital marketing. Still, there is a sense of fear about digital marketing practices in the minds of business owners and CXOs, majorly due to wrong perception and poor knowledge imparted by a series of small time vendors / consultants  & agencies they’ve met in the past.

I won’t say that the fear is completely out of context. Digital medium has indeed grown at a breakneck pace, both in terms of the audience adoption, the excessive use of tech in marketing and the massive data generated by digital devices.

digital-marketing-channels

This ‘never seen before pace of growth’ in the Digital world eventually turned the digital marketing landscape into a complex mesh of related and unrelated choices of tools, techniques, media channels, platforms, ad formats and marketing metrics.

Till now, a lot of brands were operating in a single, well defined template of producing one TVC, one print ad & one radio jingle in their entire marketing calendar. Their world was pretty straight forward (not taking anything away from the mainline agencies), until digital shook the entire landscape with its never ending options and opportunities.

Google-Algorithm-Upate-Timeline

Nothing seems to be at rest in the digital world. The biggest discovery platform – Google, changes its search algorithm almost 3-4 times in a year. If you are a marketer who understands SEO & SEM, you would perhaps know what that really means from a content creation standpoint.

With platforms like Facebook, Twitter & Instagram becoming a way of life, social media marketing suddenly became the most important priority for all marketers (big or small). Apparently, strategy for social media engagement is the most abused thing in our business. Not many brands actually know “why they are doing what they are doing?”.

Mobile further added a complex dimension of location & personalisation (UI & UX) to the digital marketing process. Customer experience on WAP & App is now looked upon as the biggest strategic project.

Programmatic Luma Landscape

Programmatic ad tech also added a tonne of new set of questions in the minds of already confused marketing teams. The number of 3rd party stakeholders involved (DMP, DSP, SSP, Exchange, Networks, Publishers) with their insanely complex terminology and even more complex execution process, programmatic has enough arsenal to scare a NASA scientist.

However, with all its complications, digital is still looked upon as the next big platform for innovation by many brands.

Simplifying Digital Marketing

I think there is a way in which you can simplify digital marketing strategy for your brand. As a CMO, here are some simple go-to steps that’ll get you going instantly in your digital marketing strategy because you would start asking the right questions to your agency:

Discoverability

  • Always check the status of your brands discoverability in the search engines.
  • Ensure your SEO vendor has deployed the SEO best practices.
  • Create as much content about your product/service/brand. This would ensure that you start getting the right audience on your website.

Analytics

  • Use the analytics data from your website to find out more about your audience.
  • Serve more content which is generating more audience visits and active visits on the website.
  • Find out the segments you should target in your future campaign based on organic search results.

Digital Marketing KPI

  • Your marketing KPIs would vary from business to business, and especially based on the type & stage of business you are.
  • Don’t just say that you want to “sell your products”, that is business goal.
  • Your marketing goal should be to reach out to the right targeting audience, ensure they spend as much time as possible with your brand and eventually leave their contact details to know more / transact online / visit your store. All these goals can be measured.
  • Type of digital metrics
    • Vanity Goals – Impressions, clicks, ctr
    • Performance Goals – CPC (cost per click), cost per visit (CPV), cost per active visit (CPAV), cost per acquisition (CPA)
    • Business Metrics – footfalls, final sales or lead conversion

Digital Media Mix

  • Here’s how you can match your primary goals with the relevant digital channel:
    • Branding : Banners, Rich Media & Video in Desktop & Mobile
    • Lead Generation : PPC, SEM, SEO, Native Ads, Email Marketing
    • Driving Footfall : Email, Mobile, Social Ads
    • Sales: PPC, Affiliate Marketing
    • Engagement: Content Marketing

There is no doubt, while the conventional media industry like Television, Print, Radio & Outdoor were living in their fool’s paradise, digital became the new poster boy of all marketers.

However, when it comes to the Indian market, despite their positive intent, most of the brand teams are still trying to adapt in the cutthroat world of digital marketing.

Digital trends for multichannel retail

Multi Channel Retail and eRetail

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

travel trends 2015

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).

With RHS gone, search marketing has changed forever

google-adwords-right-hand-side-ads

With right hand side ads disappearing in search, google is clearly telling brands to focus on mobile in their paid search marketing strategy.

Adwords will soon display four ads above organic search results, no ads to the right of search results, and three additional ads below search results, according to The SEM Post.

At the same time, the company says it may show an additional ad — four, not three — above the search results for what it calls “highly commercial queries”.  Google has also confirmed that this change is global and that it applies to all languages supported on Google Search. It’s expected this change will be rolled out to all Google Search users by February 22nd.

This is certainly a major shift by the search engine giant and would force brands and agencies to re-look at their search marketing strategies.

Here are some of the early observations based on the news stories trickling in:

Desktop Search Marketing going Native

The removal of ads in the right sidebar of the results means Google’s desktop search results pages will look a lot more like mobile search results pages, which are displayed in a single column for obvious reasons. Google is clearly moving in the direction of native search advertising where the line between paid and organic would actually disappear.

Also Read : On Google, Teens can’t tell the difference between sponsored links & organic listing

Making Search Marketing More Premium

Search Marketing Changes impacting Google YOY Ad Revenue
Search Marketing Changes impacting Google YOY Ad Revenue

Google’s share of revenue per search ad has slid recently. For years, Google ran up to eight paid ads on the right side in desktop mode. While the total varies for each search, there will now probably be fewer paid spots for each result — and, therefore, a scramble by advertisers to bid more in Google’s auction.

What falls under highly commercial queries in search marketing?

According to Search Engine Land, This would involve searches like “hotels in Mumbai” or “car insurance” and the like. There are also two exceptions to the right-side change:

  1. PLA boxes will be the only time ads will continue to show on the right side of the desktop search results page.
  2. Ads in Knowledge Panel

Poor score in search marketing might get penalised

Although the update is limited to desktop search results pages, so your brand’s desktop traffic may get affected. However, ads that appear beneath the third or fourth position may see a decline in click-through rates immediately. This means that google PPC campaign would require a lot more optimisation than ever before. This would also force the site owners to improve the overall content quality on their landing page to improve their search score and build more deeper relevance for the search engine.

Why job hopping is losing its negative stigma globally?

job hopping trends

Before I say anything, let me first confess that I’ve been a job hopper in my career (only the first half of it), and this post is not written in self defence. Nor this is written to support job hopping in any manner.  I am just trying to present another view which  will help the recruiters to change their perspective (just a little bit) on this age old stigma.

According to a  new survey out from PayScale and Millennial Branding finds that 41% of baby boomers believe that people should stay in their jobs for at least five years before looking for a new role. Another 21% say between four and five years.

What is really interesting to note in that survey is that the people born between 1982 and 2002, a full 26% believe that you should start looking for something new before a year is up. Only 13% say more than five years.

Why the difference?

In one of the interviews given to F@st Company,  Lydia Frank, director of editorial and marketing at PayScale in Seattle said:

Young people tend to believe that loyalty is a two-way street. Especially in this economy, things that demonstrated loyalty from an employer to an employee are disappearing,

There’s just not this sense in the job market that your employer is necessarily going to take care of you.

As a result, people have become more focused on ensuring they’re making the best choices for their individual career

Pros of Job Hopping

Moving jobs early on in their careers has become a necessary evil for a lot of freshers. Not that they plan for it, or it is fashionable. The thing is, we are living in the times where only few people know what they want to be when they grow up these days. Trying different jobs—or even industries—early on can help you find the right fit.

Second, even if you do know what you want to do with your life, the global economy has been tepid for young people since the economic crash of 2008. Many teens in their early 20s have not been able to start out where they wished.

If a new opportunity comes along, the mind-set is this:

I don’t like what I’m doing;

I’m not being paid well for my skill set;

and if I’m not in a job that’s utilizing my training and education, why would I stay?

In the below video, Anne Krook, author of “Now What Do I Say?”: Practical Workplace Advice for Younger Women, explains how economic changes have prompted shifts in attitudes about company loyalty for Gen Y.

Interestingly, Forbes published an article early in this year ( ReadEmployees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less )  that touched upon this topic in much greater detail.

income-graph-people-who-leave-jobs-hopping
Graph comparison of salary growth of people who moved fast vs those who stayed in the same company

 

According to the article published in Forbes:

Why are people who jump ship rewarded, when loyal employees are punished for their dedication? The answer is simple. Recessions allow businesses to freeze their payroll and decrease salaries of the newly hired based on “market trends.” These reactions to the recession are understandable, but the problem is that these reactions were meant to be “temporary.” Instead they have become the “norm” in the marketplace. More importantly, we have all become used to hearing about “3% raises” and we’ve accepted it as the new “norm.”

Cons of Job Hopping

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been a job hopper myself, but after spending 9 years into the advertising & marketing business, I do not look back at what I did, nor I feel guilty or regretful about the choices I made. When it comes to your career, I believe it is all about making the decisions, right or wrong is not in your control. While the right ones reward you, the wrong ones make you a better professional.

There is a hidden fear in people who move too often, that sooner than later they would hit a dead end in their career, which is not entirely incorrect. Recruiters and HR start looking at your profile (and you) as if you’ve committed the most heinous crime on earth (what I do not understand is why they call such candidates for interview in first place, just to humiliate?).

The thing is, there are no “valid reasons” for why someone hopped in his career. As a hiring manager, even I would have apprehensions of hiring someone who has moved too fast too furious. But, what we are missing here is the fact that none of the organizations may have tried to retain this individual.

A research conducted by workopolis (see infographic) suggests two key things:

  1. 20% of the employee’s annual salary is actually the cost of replacing him.
  2. Most people leave their companies for reasons other than compensation

If we go by the above 2 reasons, I believe there is some serious thinking that is required by all employers and their HR in order to retain their employees. If the company really want to retain their key talent, they can very well pay them more or improve their policies in order to save themselves from the botheration & cost of hiring process.

 

I am also running a Twitter poll for this:

Publicis Groupe Launches Publicis90 Startup Fund

Publicis 90 Startup Fund

Publicis Groupe celebrates its 90th anniversary by selecting 90 digital start-ups to mentor & fund

Publicis Groupe – which was founded by Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet in 1926 – is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. When it all started in a little Parisian apartment on Rue Montmartre, the founder’s only staff was his secretary. He would never have thought that, 90 years later, his Groupe would be one of the three largest in the world, with close to 80,000 employees.

Back then, Publicis Groupe began just like many of today’s start-ups. It is with its founder in mind, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of so many of its employees around the world, that Publicis Groupe has chosen to celebrate its 90th anniversary by providing mentoring, support and funding to 90 entrepreneurial projects in the digital field.

To take part, projects can be submitted via the Publicis90 platform (www.publicis90.com) which will be available online as of January 18th. Whether you are a student, a new start-up, a successful entrepreneur or a Publicis Groupe employee anywhere in the world, you are welcome to put forward your idea and apply for support from the Groupe. Taking part is really easy. The goal is to provide entrepreneurs with the support they need to bring their projects to life, or to take it to the next level.

The Publicis90 platform (www.publicis90.com) will be open for submissions until February 28. Projects will be pre-selected by region (the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe-Middle-East & Africa), with a first round of votes open to all Publicis Groupe employees (all projects submitted remain anonymous). A regional jury will then draw up a short-list from the pre-selected projects, before the final selection is made by a prestigious global jury that will pick the 90 most promising projects or start-ups.

The selected projects will be mentored by Publicis Groupe experts in marketing, communications, management and technology. They will also receive funding in the form of an investment ranging from 10,000 euros for projects about to be launched to 500,000 euros for start-ups that are already ramping up. As for selected projects submitted by Publicis Groupe employees, they will have the benefit of a special internal incubation scheme.

The holders of the 90 selected projects will be invited to participate to Viva Technology Paris (www.vivatechnologyparis.com), the first forum in France to bring together the people who matter most in digital throughout the world with over 5,000 start-ups. This event – created by Publicis Groupe and Groupe Les Echos – will be held from June 30 to July 2, 2016 at the Paris Expo Exhibition Centre at Porte de Versailles. The 90 selected projects will be honored at an awards ceremony held during Viva Technology Paris.

Maurice Lévy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, declared:

Publicis90 is very much in line with the philosophy of Publicis Groupe and its founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. The idea is to help young entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Not just through investment but also by putting Groupe resources at their disposal for a year. Rather than look back and pat ourselves on the back for 90 years of history, we have taken the forward-looking approach of extending a helping hand to young entrepreneurs.

Programmatic Media in India – A Despicable Story

programmatic media in india

While globally popular for over a decade, programmatic media in India is being used only since last couple of years.

eMarketer forecasts US mobile programmatic ad spending will reach $9.33 billion this year and account for 60.5% of total US programmatic display ad spending.  At present, the programmatic buying industry is at a very nascent stage in India.

There are many companies which have started providing such services.

Key Players for Programmatic Media In India

  1. Global Leaders
    1. Publicis’s Vivaki – Audience on Demand (AOD)
    2. GroupM – Xaxis
    3. OMD-Accuen
    4. Dentsu Aegis – Amnet
    5. IPG – Cadreon
  2. DSPs & Trading Desks
    1. Sociomantic
    2. Vizury
  3. Ad Networks
    1. RevX by Komli
    2. Ybrant Digital
  4. Programmatic Ad-Tech Startups
    1. Rocketfuel
    2. Appier

Along with these, there are many US companies also which are operating remotely in India. But it still hasn’t picked up the way it should have been. It is still taking time for the marketers and agencies to understand the true benefit of DSPs and start replacing their traditional way of media buying with it.

Key Challenges for Programmatic Media In India

Revenue Forecast

Extremely difficult to project or forecast the market size for programmatic in India. A somewhat accurate guesstimate would be 10-20% of overall display spends and can go up to 50% of display by end of 2017-18.

Silo Approach By Ad Networks

Most of the companies in India providing programmatic services are currently operating in silos. The ad networks are providing very basic programmatic buys from ad exchanges, and claiming it as audience targeting. There are very few people (at both client’s and agency’s end) who actually understand audience targeting from a technology standpoint.

Limited Audience

With too many players trying to get their share in this small pie, the minimum bidding price (eCPM) in India can also go up for the same audience as not many brands are savvy reaching out to the audience outside major top 10 metros as the purchasing power or disposable income is linked to it.

Stubborn Media Planners

Programmatic’s basic DNA resides in data & technology, it is less of a media concept, and from execution standpoint, it needs more deeper understanding of technologies like Big Data Segmentation. Hence, any programmatic campaign requires handling a lot of data, analyse, create intelligent algorithms and provide meaningful insights to the advertisers. These technical experts will have to work hand in hand with the media planning teams. Media planning teams in India are too stubborn & resistant to change to this newer reality which would make the adoption for programmatic that much more difficult.

Less Confident Publishers

Major Indian publishers are often hesitant to sell their premium inventory in an open bidding process but are willing to work via private deals. Even if that requires a painful & rather long selling process of going from door to door.  Publishers have their own reasons to resist-losing control on their premium placements, earning less revenues due to RTB (real time bidding), integrating their premium inventories liked fixed buys or sponsorships.

Programmatic Rich Media

Currently, there is a massive demand for video based Rich media formats in India, whereas programmatic is still stuck on basic banner & pre-roll video based buys. Unless there is a massive upgrade in the programmatic tech, which would include the features like rich media, brand safety and premium placements, Indian brands won’t show interest in the programmatic buys.

 

Mobile has changed the in-market car buying journey

car purchase journey in india

It used to be that when people needed to buy a car they would go to the dealer, walk down the rows of brightly coloured models and listen to a salesperson talk about the latest and greatest makes and features. Today’s auto intender can bypass the car lot altogether and gather information from sites, apps, friends, family members and even experts, all at the touch of a button or scroll of the thumb.

Today, in-market audience is visiting lesser number of dealer locations  as they are spending a lot of time discovering through their Mobile for their dream vehicle. Most of the time in-market customer has already made the decision before setting their foot inside the dealer location as they have the answers to most of their queries.

From a media standpoint, Mobile has captured maximum share of voice & share of mind across owned, earned & paid media, i.e. Brand’s Website, Organic & Paid Search, Social Media & Auto Reviews Portals, that influence & shapes audience decision making process for automobile purchase.

Current share of mobile queries across both organic & paid search is consistently touching 60% (the trend is common for all automakers as mentioned by Google in their auto insight report last year) which has further impacted all other connected channels like auto content portals & social media.

When it comes to social media, majority of the audience is engaging with the brand through their mobile devices. According to Facebook, almost 90% of the active audience in India in the age group of 25-45 are Mobile First. This trend is reflected in the audience data for auto portals as well, where most of them are seeing up to 50% and more entry referral traffic coming through Mobile (App & Wap) only.

Mobile truly cuts across the entire audience consideration funnel i.e (Awareness or Discovery > Consideration > Evaluation > Purchase), and further intercepts audience car buying journey at regular intervals with high degree of share of mind.

Think Transformation, Think Razorfish!

Digital Business Transformation
The following article is originally published in The Financial Express by Mr. Jaideep Mehta (MD, IDC India & South Asia)

New ways of consuming IT are emerging

Many analysts and observers cite 2015 as one of the most challenging years for the IT industry. Financial performance was challenged relative to historical numbers.

Many analysts and observers cite 2015 as one of the most challenging years for the IT industry. Financial performance was challenged relative to historical numbers. Large players are struggling to fire up growth, and margin maintenance is becoming a significant challenge. With some notable exceptions such as Mindtree, Tier 2 and small companies are more severely impacted on both counts. The forecast of 12-14% growth seems, sadly, unachievable: high single digits is probably a more realistic number. Talent retention is on the agenda like never before and top technologists decamp for the greener pastures of the booming start up world. Then, there are the markets: aside from the relatively bright demand in the USA, global markets range from slow to downright grim.
These are symptoms of a more problematic phenomenon. History will judge 2015 as the year when the traditional high profit, high growth model of the industry started being dismantled. 2016 will see an acceleration of this fundamental disruption. The key driver is the industrialisation of the technology sector, massively disruptive innovation, and the resultant emergence of new ways of consuming IT.

The digital transformation wave has pervaded corporations globally. The IDC Digital Transformation Maturityscape Index, built on more than 2500 assessments globally, shows that more than 60% of the companies are at Stage 2 or 3 on a 1-5 scale. Many are still struggling to get off the starting blocks, but realise it’s a game of survival. Practically every company we speak with, anywhere geographically and across vertical industries, is actively investing to understand and leverage digital technologies, processes and methods to drive superior business performance.

Consequently, in 2015, 120% of industry growth has been driven by these investments: traditional IT, though 70% of total spending, is shrinking by 4.5%. In other words, what the IT services industry is best at doing is in secular recession.

The challenge for the Indian companies is that these programmes are driven through high engagement and high iteration projects, which do not lend themselves to offshoring. So, the traditional advantage they brought to the table is substantially reduced. Organisations are building front-end or “on site” teams to be able to give clients the assurance of service, and to demonstrate capabilities.

As digital transformation starts with customer facing processes, the software underlying these programmes tends to be design-led. A capability that fundamentally does not exist in the engineer-dominated industry which failed to see the wave coming, and steadfastly ignored all leading indicators till it was too late. Now, it is collectively scrambling to buy this capability, often at premium prices and with post-acquisition integration challenges such as salesforce integration and enablement, cultural fits and margin dilution issues.

Finally, engaging clients on digital transformation initiatives demands depth of end-user industry knowledge and consulting capability which is rare: to partner with a bank on retail banking customer transformation programmes, for example, demands a depth of understanding of retail banking processes, customer preferences, channel migration issues and digital marketing disciplines which even the largest organisations find themselves challenged with. Consulting and domain teams are being invested in to overcome this challenge. Tuck in acquisitions buttress existing capability.

All in all, digital transformation programmes remain a challenging business for the industry to dominate. It has ceded ground to the likes of Accenture, Razorfish and others who are significantly outperforming the industry from a growth performance perspective.

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4 Mobile Marketing Strategies that would actually work in 2017

mobile marketing strategy 2016

Year 2015, was perhaps the most important year in the mobile marketing industry, an year when mobile devices officially ended the 2 decade long dominance by desktops.

People around the globe settled down to a new “mobile way of life”.

Mobile is primary digital device for all demography segments
Source: BCG Center

Data from BCG study calling out loud and clear, that mobile devices are the primary digital device of all age and demography segments.

Over 53% of tier 1,2 & 3 use mobile as their primary device.

Google also acknowledged this fact in one of their PR releases pertaining to mobile vs desktop searches. Google’s search chief Amit Singhal said for the first time, more Google searches were completed on mobile devices than desktop computers.

All of this point us (the advertisers and marketers) in one single direction. We can, no longer continue to ignore mobile as a key channel in the marketing mix. However, there are several challenges (especially for the small & medium advertisers) when it comes to using Mobile effectively as a marketing channel.

Here are few mobile marketing tactics which are most logical and almost hygiene to make your digital marketing work in 2016.

#1 Mobile Marketing is most Social than ever before

Mobile vs Social Media in 2016
Source: WARC Asial Survey, 2015

77% of the marketers (also identified as one of the 2016 digital marketing trend in my previous blog post) said that mobile is used most frequently with paid social media marketing.

This data is also in sync with the the below numbers shared by Facebook Audience Insights, which says 122 Mn out of 132 Mn people access Facebook through  Mobile.

Facebook India Audience Data 2015-16
Facebook India Audience Data 2015-16

Clearly, this shows that your social strategy should go through a “Mobile First” prism in 2016. What that means really is when you design your social content or when you create your paid social marketing plan, do skew it more towards mobile audience.

#2 Mobile Marketing is more about native content and less about advertising

Mobile Content vs Mobile Advertising - Trends 2016
Source: WARC-MMA Survey Report, 2015

The current trend might be in favour (almost tilted) of paid social advertising as the key mobile tactic, but this will change soon and the trend is already visible. According to the WARC-MMA survey, mobile display advertising would lose its share by 2020 to Mobile Content (or native advertising).

Also Read : Reasons Why Mobile Native Advertising Beats Desktop Native Advertising 

Apple has already allowed ad blocker apps to run on its safari browser.  Though iPhone’s overall market share is limited, but this would still cause significance dent in the overall mobile display pie.

#3 Give your website a “Mobile First” makeover

Regardless of the type or stage of the brand, having a unique mobile first experience is something which would become a de-facto standard from here-on.

More so after the Mobilegedden update by Google.

In order to take better decision on your mobile first approach, also read “Mobile Web vs Mobile App

Responsive website might be thing of the past for many digital first brands in 2016 as they continue to chase and build deeper consumer experience using Mobile First Strategies.

#4 In-App would grow but Mobile Searches would remain the key performing channel

With the growing popularity of mobile apps, to which a lot of digital pundits would say it offers a superior user experience than conventional websites, start-ups tilted (almost shifted) their product and business models towards the app at the expense of desktop and mobile websites.

To add to this, many investors regarded the number of app downloads as one of the indicators of a start-up’s performance. Entrepreneurs and marketing heads rushed to blindly maximise their app downloads. Since then, tonnes of app marketing companies opened shop in Bangalore and Mumbai.

Soon, however, it was evident that they didn’t necessarily result in high growth.

Now, as apps lose their novelty and vanity both, and as smartphone users uninstall apps to clear up memory (uninstall rates are as high as 90% in some cases), these companies are revisiting their mobile web strategies.

The winner? Google, which retains its dominance of online ad spending.

Hence, digital brands should get a sharp focus on getting their mobile keywords strategy in 2016. Yes, there is a difference of “intent & location relevance” in the audience search list.

4 RTB Programmatic trends for 2017

RTB Programmatic Trends 2016

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.