Internet guarantees Return on Investment in the media mix

MUMBAI: The last session of the IOA conclave was a panel discussion on how to measure the return on investment (ROI) of online advertising? This is one of the primary concerns of marketers today who are reluctant to put their monies on the Internet.

The session was moderated by Mediaturf CEO and IOA chairman V Ramani and the panel comprised IRCTC group general manager - IT services Amitabh Pandey, MD Avnish Bajaj, Citibank vice president and head (Internet, mobile and E-commerce) Sriram Jagannathan, Grey Interactive's Sudhir Nair, Thomas Cook India Ltd MD and CEO Ashwini Kakkar and Double Click international product director Ramesh Kannan. These eminent panelists debated on the different ways to measure ROI of online advertising.

Jagannathan said that as an advertiser one can work more effectively with the offline business in order to enhance ROI for online advertising. On the other hand, a publisher can go beyond space selling to increase ROI for online advertising. And as far as the industry was concerned, a lot of infrastructure, published reports etc can work wonders for the ROI of an online campaign.'s Bajaj started by saying that he knew more about ROI of online advertising than that of offline. His portal got completely off television advertising and focused on online campaigns only. Giving the example of eBay Worldwide, he said that they only used television advertising to build brand awareness but for growing their business, they used the Internet medium.

Grey Interactive's Nair started by asking said that he had thought of 370.5 different options to expand ROI! Some of them, he said, were, 'Rationale of Initiative', 'Rationale Online Initiative', 'Robust Online Initiative', Results of Initiative', 'Ratio of Investment' and last but not the least 'Return on Investment'. Hence to measure ROI was easier said than done, Nair said.

A passionate Kakkar, set the pace of the session going by asking if the ROI of any product depended on the number of customers it got and how fast it got them? If that was the case, then this was the shocking data that he presented:

" Radio took 38 years to get their first 10 million customers

" Telephones took 28 years to get their first 10 million customers

" Computers took 12 years to get their first 10 million customers

" The Internet took 11 months to get its first 10 million customers!!!

" The mobile, on the other hand, has 10+ million customers added per month.

Kakkar went on to say that in order to maximize ROI, one should first go after the prosumers in the Indian market, which comprises mostly of the early adopters and the leaders. Secondly, he said that combination advertising works better for a brand than just online advertising but there should be different messages for the different mediums as targeted campaign profiles work better than general campaign profiles. Partnerships, Kakkar said, were also a great option as the Internet has the ability to give top of the mind recall and that there were three things that worked on the Internet - Price, Price and Price!

Kannan, on the other hand said that two things worked for ROI of online advertising - pull based advertising and push based advertising. "Pull based advertising is performance based advertising, which has not taken too well in India. This type of advertising translates buying activity in cost per click (CPC) and has a clear cut price mechanism, which is measurable. On the other hand, push based advertising are in the form of banner ads where measuring ROI is a little more complex as it looks at clicks but instead what one should look at is the indirect response of users who have looked at it," said Kannan.

IRCTC's Pandey said that their main focus was on their business (sale of tickets) and that advertising follows. "The success rate is what determines ROI. If I attract more customers, then you (advertiser) can attract more customers. Hence, advertising is our jam, ticketing is our bread and butter," Pandey said.

Ramani concluded the session by saying that Internet might not be the 'Me Too' medium but might be the 'Me To' medium that can deliver to the advertisers and hence generate greater ROI for them.

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