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'Marketers must not fall prey to the viral trap:' KS Chakravarthy

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MUMBAI: Speaking at Association for Data Driven Marketing and Advertising (DDMA) India Annual and Awards on Greatness -- The New Minimum For Survival, digital marketing and social media agency Liqvd Asia CCO KS Chakravarthy (Chax) points out that accepting the changing role of advertisers and consumers is the bare minimum for the digital world that marketers are operating in today.

Going back few years, one can see how the internet has changed the way consumers behave. From viewers, they are increasingly looking for outlets to be heard. With social media, advertisers and marketers aren’t the only story tellers; consumers are also partaking in the creative process. In fact, according to Chakravarthy, marketers are no more storytellers, but responders looking out for meaningful conversation touch points in a consumer’s life.

Citing Google’s concept of micro moments, Chakravarthy highlights how technology enables one to target much sharper. “The entire journey to purchase can be broken down into moments. There is a moment to know, which is when a consumer is seeking information, and it is also the time when you can engage them in conversation and build relationship. And then there are moments to to go when the consumer is actually purchasing… these moments creates avenues for marketers to not just drive sales but to engage consumers,” says Chakravarthy.

Chakravarthy moves on to expand on the statement with numerous examples of how brands have effectively anticipated and converted consumer engagement with campaigns to brand communications, starting with the Old Spice advertisement in 2010, which the marketers responded to Twitter backlash to generate more conversation about the brand resulting increased sales. While that was accidental, American FMCG brand Honey Maid anticipated negative feedback on their campaign and incorporated that into their follow up campaign.

Apart from the new take on consumers, the key benchmarks that emerged from the session that digital marketers must take note of are reality of the second screen adoption and the vista of opportunity it poses to the marketers to capitalise upon; social influences or the viral stars of the digital world be it on YouTube, Pinterest or Vine; and the importance of collaboration or branded content, which is being tried but is still at a nascent stage in India compared to other markets.

Having said that, Chakravathy pointed out why marketers should not fall prey to the viral trap. “It’s sad that in India only 20 per cent of the digital spends goes to video content, while the number is almost 80 per cent in a market like Japan where digital marketing is much more evolved. The issues isn’t just with infrastructure and bandwidth consumption. Whenever we think of digital marketing through videos we think of viral videos. Somehow we all think that we will make a video that will go viral, which is not the case. If one were to analyse YouTube’s data, one can see that most of the videos we know as viral in India are paid for by brands. It’s not organic and hence of no use to marketers,” he said. 

“Unless a video engages a consumer in something informative, and ensures meaningful consumer engagement, it will not convert to anything even close to sales for a brand,” Chakravarthy asserted.

When queried as to whether he finds digital marketers lacking confidence in the Indian market, Chakravarthy gives them the benefit of doubt and expresses his primary concerns with the medium in the current landscape. “Apart from a few B2B brands, most brands can’t to without television in India, especially FMCG brands. Moreover even with the buzz around digital marketing, clients haven’t really got what they want from digital practices in India on marketing. Once that happens, this question of confidence won’t come. The fact remains that marketers must engage brands in all touch points of their purchasing journey using digital as a tool. That’s the bare minimum,” Chakravarthy signed off.

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