2018 will be a year of video campaigns: WATConsult's Rajiv Dhingra

MUMBAI: If you see an advertisement on a website or your app, you are a well defined consumer of digital advertising. Thet ads on the website you visit are primarily revenue source for internet companies.

Digital advertising is no longer a joke. The emails were considered pointless and annoying and banner ads used to be laughed at but today, with smartphone penetration being higher than ever and decreasing low data costs, digital advertising needs to be done and done well as the market is highly saturated and consumer’s attention span is shorter than ever.

Some twenty years ago, digital advertising was just a couple of banners placed cleverly on websites. They were considered super annoying, as if you happened to click on one of them intentionally or unintentionally, you would soon be bombarded with banners all over your website. Today, digital advertising has become extensive with different types of online ads being produced based on the website content and target audience. Online advertising is one of the fastest growing way to reach an audience which includes banner ads to social media networking, email marketing, site takeovers, online classified ads, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and even


With the accessibility of internet on smartphones and low data cost, companies are now spending millions of rupees trying to find a way to advertise on digital platforms without creating an unpleasant experience for the consumer.

Digital advertising doesn’t come cheap but it is far more affordable for marketers than traditional advertising model. There are over hundreds of different digital advertising models available today and every ad we see on digital platforms today is paid by one of those models. The most popular method though are CPA (Cost Per Action), PPC (Pay Per Click) and CPM (Cost Per Mille).

To get some insights on the changing face of digital industry in India, Indian Television Dot Com got talking to WATConsult founder and CEO Rajiv Dhingra who has seen and been a part of the digital revolution in India and recently completed 11 years in digital advertising business.

The company which started off as a social media specialist in 2007 has expanded its reach and portfolio to become the most sought after full service digital agency in the country. WATConsult today specialises in digital marketing, social media marketing, search marketing, mobile marketing, digital analytics and digital video production.

How has the digital ecosystem in India evolved along with WATConsult?

When I look back to the industry’s growth in context of the past 11 years, there has been a tremendous change in the digital industry. Digital industry has become so large today in terms of advertising yet it is only 15 per cent of the overall market advertising and there is so much more growth opportunity left. While digital has been around for around 20 years, the industry has just started to become significant in terms of advertising efficiently on the platform.

Since the market is highly competitive today, how does associating oneself with a bigger network help since WATConsult was also acquired by Dentsu Aegis Network back in 2015?

It is the comfort of being associated with a large network that helps in getting global processes in line. That is the core level where a global network helps. Beyond that, every agency is unique and every agency has to work hard to earn its bread. I don’t think you can credit any agency or network all the accolades they achieve and if that was the case, all agencies under a network would work equally efficiently which is not the case.

How is the Indian digital ecosystem different from the rest of the world as it sure does have its own challenges and uniqueness?

India is still a very small market for advertising and within the small market, it has an even smaller advertising pie for digital. But what is similar is that Indian marketers are now open to new ways of leveraging digital. Execution and creative wise digital is not a very backward market as we see some amazing work happening in digital which is globally comparable as well.

and the challenges…?

In India, we need to up our ante when it comes to our creative and overall work level. Only that will help in bringing more clients and get them to spend more money. Digital still needs to simplify in our country as to what it is that an agency or marketer is trying to tell and achieve. Today, there are too many people selling digital in 100 different ways. We need to focus on business and brand objectives rather than focusing on 100 different t metrics that digital brings.

How much do you project the ad spends to increase by 2020?

There are no doubts about it that ad spends will definitely increase on digital. Ad spends will increase by 32 per cent CAGR y-o-y  and by 2020 it is going to be 24 per cent of the market which is almost 1/4 of the advertising market.

How soon will the shift happen where digital becomes a dominant medium over television?

I believe for digital to become dominant over television medium will take another 5-6 years in my mind and it is not going to happen by 2020. Although it is definitely going to happen by 2022-23 and that is when it will come very close to the advertising share of television.

We have been hearing a lot about AI, Big data and Machine Leaning and the buzzwords lately. Is the Indian media ready and understands the concepts or we still have a long way to go?

I don’t see these as buzzwords or jargons. Social media 10 years ago was considered a jargon and a buzzword but today it is an accepted reality. 10 years from today, AI, big data and machine learning will become accepted reality. Although they may not be called what they are called today and will be referred to as something else entirely. For instance, when social media was launched, it was called, Web 2.0. Similarly, 10 years from now, these new technologies will have a huge impact not only on digital adverting but on businesses in general.

But why are marketers still reluctant on investing in these newer technologies?

That is imply because marketers were also reluctant about social media 10 years ago. Marketers are always reluctant because they don’t want to spend their money on or betting on future technology which may or may not happen. They want results of today and hence they will always stay reluctant. Technology moves faster than marketing moves and users move even faster as far as technology adoption is concerned. Globally marketers have got there and back in India, some mature marketers have started experimenting with the technologies. Some of the large FMCG companies in India are looking to create their own data repository data lake to make sure they have detailed data analytics. One of our own automobile client has insisted that we get a data scientist on board for their brand. These are early but significant times of how data, AI and machine learning are going to be big part of digital advertising as we go forward.

Do you believe influencer marketing is here to stay was that just a passing phase in 2017?

Influencer marketing is becoming more and more of a professional industry and it is going to only grow. Three to four years from now, marketers will end up spending so much more on this medium and as internet grows and the frequency grows, word of mouth is going to be even more important than paid media as it has its own challenges in terms of cost and credibility.

Facebook recently announced that it will filter the newsfeed by removing marketing ads to ensure better user experience. Will this hamper businesses in any way?

Facebook has always focussed on user experience. I am sure they will find other ways to make sure marketers who spend money do reach their audiences. But yes, marketers who would like to use Facebook as a free tool will be hit because clearly Facebook doesn’t think that free advertising should be allowed on Facebook itself.

What would be the game-changer in digital adverting this year ? How does 2018 look to you?

Video has been a huge growth factor in 2017 and it is going to continue at a break next speed in 2018. With data consumption going through the roof, you wont see a digital campaign that does not have a video. 2018 looks like a year which has a lot of opportunities and it could be the best year for digital industry ever with so many interesting things happening in the industry.


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