Creativity the key while advertising on the Internet

MUMBAI: The fourth session of the Internet and Online Association's conclave that took place in Mumbai on 1 October was a panel discussion moderated by MD and CEO Neeraj Roy. The panel comprised ICICI Bank head of NRI business P Gopakumar, Starcom MD India - West and South Ravi Kiran, Apna Loan CEO Harsh Roongta, Mediaturf Worldwide national creative director Raja Ray, Lodestar president Shashi Sinha and Real Media UK technology solutions director Murly Tiwari. This panel discussion titled - 'Have your cake and eat it too? Branding versus direct response,' was the highlight of the day as it saw some heated arguments and disagreements among the panelists.



Roy started the discussion by directing a question at Kiran, asking him how many of Starcom's clients have a budget set apart for interactive, online and mobile advertising? Kiran said, "None of my clients have a budget set aside specially for the new media. But we have a new client, whom I cannot name, who has set aside 99 per cent of his advertising budget for the Internet. What generally happens with us is that our clients set aside a particular budget for the media and they want us to get back to them and provide them with a right media mix."



On the other hand, Gopakumar said that 25 per cent of their budget in the international space was set aside for the online space. For them, he said, the reach of the other media was not as great as the Internet especially in the North American market. He however said that in the domestic side of the business 2 per cent of the budget was for the online space.



Tiwari on his behalf said that a recent MSN study in the US revealed that 16 per cent of the budget should be applied to online advertising. Coming to the creativity aspect while advertising online, Mediaturf's Ray said that a lot of people tend to push their offline campaign on the Internet. He explained, "If one has an idea on the Internet, then the client needs to think and creatively use the benefits of the medium to create advertising that works. But one cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the Internet as a medium is a restrictive one for creativity in advertising compared to the other mediums."

Sinha emphasised the fact that advertising on the Internet works well because of the nature of the medium. "One needs to find the strength of the medium and then use to the optimum level. If one doesn't see the power of the medium then it is an add on to your media plan. But then who is to blame? The news genre has grown to a large extent recently. Hence, the point I am trying to make here is that a lot of stuff that has been done can change mindsets and at the end of the day, it's all about mindsets," he said. Roongta on his behalf touted that if any company showed that Internet advertising had worked then it was his He said, "We survive only on Internet advertising and 80 per cent of our budget is allocated to this."

Overall, Rs 160 million is being spent on the Internet out of the total Rs 600 million. Also notable is the fact that in the US, 70 per cent of automobile sales are influenced by the Internet. Reiterating the same, Murthy said that Mitsubishi never did television ads but only looked to the Internet when it came advertising as this worked well for them. "If you have a brand, which is very well known then you can use the Internet in a clever and creative way and not the other way round," he stressed.

Kiran on the other hand, said that the number of people who use the Internet as a strategic medium has grown vis-?-vis people who use it just for fun and interest. "The number of people who use the Internet for advertising has grown from 10 to 40 in four years and that is a huge growth."

Giving the example of Zee Television, Sinha said that at the time when the channel was launched, clients were only looking at print advertising. They came up with the idea of branding their show Antakshari with Close Up and the company (Zee) acted as a media house, agency and a developer.

The panelists covered areas of viral marketing, media planning, and brand building from the Internet perspective. They spoke about innovations, without being intrusive on the consumer's space on the Internet. Ray said that unfortunately most of the communication on the Internet was intrusive. Kiran on his behalf pointed out that the four useful Cs of the Internet were - content, communication, commerce and communities. He vehemently emphasized that media planners were not supposed to have any biases towards any medium of communication and that they are supposed to see the good points of all the mediums and then act accordingly on behalf of their clients.

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