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Omnicom Media Group’s Avinash Jhangiani on what’s driving digital in India

For marketers, identifying trends shaping digital and the overall impact on the media landscape in India, has become more important than ever. While digital in one of the hottest investments markets has grown well beyond its nascent stage, it is still to gain the scale and structure that would truly make an impact in the larger marketing framework in the market. For Avinash Jhangiani, Managing Director, Digital & Mobility – Omnicom Media Group India, three key trends will stand out upping the ante for marketers. Brand storytelling to ecommerce with programmatic media, followed by mobility, and not mobile, as the epicenter of digital and the third being always-on moment marketing that is enabled by smart data and real time insights.

In a conversation with Digital Market Asia, Mr Jhangiani speaks on the developments that are leaving a mark on the digital scenario in India, and the overall challenges that marketers and agencies face in their digital ambition. Excerpts:

Despite the conversations on the growth of digital, the general takeaway is that marketers in India are still to commit ad spends to digital in tune of the consumer time spent. As marketers are still playing catch up, what are the challenges that you, as a partner to the marketer and custodian of marketing spends, face in getting them on board?
The ever changing media landscape is difficult for marketers to fathom. In fact any change is hard. To push adoption of digital and new media, proper measurement systems need to be put in place that tie back to not only brand metrics but also business value generated – more easily measurable in the case of digital. On the other hand, due to the innate nature of digital being measurable, the expectation from marketers is to only use it where traditional media is not very effective. Currently most agencies are aligned well to the CMO or Media Head. Today with growing digital consumerism, I believe that a seat at the CEO’s table is necessary to drive digital adoption from the top.

How do you strike a balance between creativity and technology within Omnicom Media Group across levels? How difficult is the implementation and how do you approach it?
As the need to drive competitive advantage from big data and brand storytelling increases for our clients, there comes a growing need to hire equally balanced individuals, in terms of right and left brains, at all levels in the agency. And this is obviously very hard to find. Over the past year we have re-structured, silently but surely, to function like one big brain that leverages data across sources, interprets and develops insights that then influence our communications planning. We have invested in state of the art tools and put processes in place that source the right data and talent across SBU’s together to ideate and solve client’s business problems.

Digital media is predicted to have a double digital growth at 15.7 per cent in 2015 driven by the high demand for mobile and online video advertising especially across social media. What is contributing?
Clients who are specially investing in content marketing are moving forward now, adopting a more holistic digital strategy. Spends are therefore growing towards mobile, content, social and video. Also with ecommerce now increasingly enabling the last mile transaction for brands, clients are able to develop more effective media and communication strategies for greater marketing funnel throughput. These trends are then also leading to investments in data platforms and partnerships for sustainable business benefits.

Apple’s ad blocker has spurred a debate on whether it is the right approach. Where do you think the future of display advertising lies?
This only pushes us to develop better communication strategies and work smarter for our clients while driving more value from their investments in media. Intrusive display advertising is not here to stay.

With ‘shopping’ or ‘buy’ buttons, social media is moving ahead to social commerce. How do you think brands can leverage social commerce in India to get more consumers to engage?
Social commerce is the answer to the ROI question from social media that advertisers have been longing for. Along with reach, ecommerce integration on social media platforms closes the loop in the path to purchase journey for consumers quite naturally.

Social media ad spends have been accelerating phenomenally. With advertising coming to visual-based platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, how important is visual storytelling for the advertisers? What are the best practices for every brand to conquer this space?
Instagram and Pinterest are platforms built on the insight that people love to click, share and consume pictures. These platforms allow brands to engage with their consumers in a far more effective format with the ‘show and tell’ approach. With mobile being the backbone of these platforms, advertisers have the ability to apply this approach at any place, at any time in a targeted fashion.

On another note India did not bag Lions in the digital categories this year. Why don’t we see some extraordinary digital campaigns in India like those from other markets?
Whenever we think of innovation we tend to think about the application of coolest and newest technology. However in emerging markets such as ours, it is not easy to make this happen at scale. With that said, what really has worked for a creative media agency like ours is creatively applying a mainstream technology to a great consumer insight to achieve scale with innovation. Cases such as Hindustan Unilever’s Kan Khajura Tesan are not easy to find. The ability to test, learn, believe and scale play a very important role in delivering awesome digital work anywhere in the world and ours is not an exception.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.