Digital advertising picked up pace in 2014 as companies, particularly in the consumer-goods sector, sharpened their focus on catering to the growing community of online consumers.
FMCG major Hindustan Unilever's 'Kan Khajura Tesan', or 'centipede radio station', is one of the most successful cases in point. The unique mobile marketing initiative won HUL three Golds at the Cannes advertising festival this year. This shows how mobile-based solutions (mobile radio station, outbound voice dialers etc), have grown this year to reach customers, especially in media-dark areas.
The share of digital in the total advertising spends is increasing and will continue to rise, observe industry executives. They estimate eight per cent of the overall advertising expenditure was being spent on digital in 2014, which grew 35 per cent versus 2013 across the sectors.
However, measuring the return on investment digitally has been a tough task for marketers. Besides, social media spending is also going to explode across brands.
FULL COVERAGE:2014 Year In Review
While in the last couple of years, advertisers started shifting ad spend from the traditional media such as TV and print to the digital, 2014 saw the transition in a more structured manner.
Besides HUL, other FMCG players also took note of the digital media's potential in 2014. Godrej Consumer Products hired three 20-somethings for its core brand marketing team as digital managers a few months ago. Beverage maker PepsiCo India launched two digital-only ad campaigns during 2014 - "GharWaliDiwali" and "BackToSchool". Dabur India started earmarking a percentage of its total ad spend for digital, which was never the case earlier.
While this spend is still small, it is rapidly increasing for Dabur. To attract consumers, who are increasingly going online to seek information about various products and for making purchases, Dabur has taken beauty, health and wellness products to the digital world with four dedicated portals. KK Chutani, Chief Marketing Officer, Dabur India, says, "We have embraced technology in a big way to better reach out to the modern-day consumer and better service her needs. By creating interfaces on the digital social platform, Dabur as an entity and its various brands are reaching out to consumers, interacting with them and, in the process, enabling them to become our brand ambassadors."
Digital is on its way to form the core of the marketing strategy of the Indian arms of leading global advertising agencies as well. It seems the exploration phase for all will soon come to an end as everyone has more or less understood digital by now. Rohit Ohri, Executive Chairman, Dentsu India, and CEO of Dentsu Asia Pacific (South), says, "The generation that is born in the digital era has an innate relationship with the digital medium. We will see a new way of brands using digital as this generation grows up."
According to the findings of the 'Digital Advertising in India' report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International, e-commerce, telecom, and FMCG and consumer durables are the top three verticals driving the digital advertisement spends in India. The report said that the online advertising market in India is projected to reach Rs 3,575 crore by March 2015, growing 30 per cent over last year.
But Vivek Ballabh, Associate Vice President (Digital Media) at marketing solutions agency Cheil India, guesses the number would reach Rs 3,000 crore by this year-end. "The last two to three months have seen digital marketing on e-commerce players such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal shooting up, translating into sales as well. These have been pumping in marketing money to attract customers," he says.
Cleary, the story is not just about how many likes a brand has got but about changing the brand perception. Digital is where the consumers are. Digital marketing works. And marketers believe there is definitely a tremendous upside in digital if they do it right.