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Businesses need a digital strategy, not a platform one: Microsoft’s Rajdeep Chatterjee

Rajdeep Chatterjee, Head of Digital for Microsoft Mobile Devices Group India, feels that marketing automation and data centric consumer management will be prevalent amongst marketers. In a conversation with Digital Market Asia, he discusses the trends that he sees coming in the next two years. He also throws light on how lead generation is now slowly becoming lead nurturing as the marketers are being able to personalise and individually touch base with the consumer through measurement analytics.

Do you feel marketers are still apprehensive about committing to digital spends?

You need to take a step back and understand what the need is, it is not only digital. If the business need is that consumers use more digital, then the company needs to invest in digital, whereas there are certain brands that don’t need as much of digital so they need to spend less. But I don’t think that there is a CMO today that is lacking the commitment to move into digital and spend more, there is lack of knowledge and lack of understanding of digital, I agree too, but I don’t think there is any hesitancy in being in digital. They want to be in digital but they do not know how to be in digital.

One of the reasons for not committing heavy spends is that, if you see the revenues that come in from digital, if you look at an offline revenue vs an online revenue across various businesses, you will see it varies from nine to 20-25 per cent of the total revenues of a business that come from digital or online space. Businesses also deploy that kind of spend to commensurate.

Second, what you buy from digital is cheaper from what you buy from the offline media, so therefore you are reaching more people and spending less. The third is that there is hesitation because people are not able to judge the value of it. The understanding is that you can measure everything, but to interpret that measurement and how to do that measurement, most businesses have not yet invested in that. Businesses have actually hyper invested in analytics, once you invest in analytics is when you start seeing the result of digital coming into play.

Digital has many exciting opportunities laid out in front of marketers, do you feel you are leveraging these opportunities?

There is this term called ‘Homo-Digitus’, like ‘Homo-Sapiens’ or humans, this species is governed by the digital world around him. For example, everything that I do is getting measured on digital, I am on FitBit, I measure what I am doing, so there is this whole concept of quantified self that is kicking in. All the moments of my day are connected somewhere either on my smartwatch or mobile or my laptop, I am leading a digital life more and more.

Considering that environment, everybody who can be connected is connected, everything because of Internet of Things is connected, what does that lead to? It leads to the fact that you as a business can now segment your consumer to one individual, the reason why TV became big is because you had a medium to reach people and it became the lowest common denominator.

Digital is the reverse of that, it is going where, crudely put, mom&pop stores of your colony, which knows every person’s individual needs and supplies the same and therefore succeeds.

On digital, I am leaving behind a trail, on social media – what I wrote or where I check in, and FitBit records how many steps I take, or where I go. For a shoe manufacturer, getting this information can help him pitch to you the product that suits your walking pattern. To me, as a marketer or a business, you need to understand that and then move forward. So to say it is getting under-leveraged, it’s a mixed bag.

Do marketers see digital as a unit or in different silos like social, gaming, programmatic, etc?

When a marketer goes into any of these platform, each platform plays a different role. you can only do that much. For example Brand A goes into Twitter for consumer engagement and Brand B wants consumer feedback from Twitter and Brand C wants to drive advocacy through Twitter. A business should have a digital strategy and then the marketer should have his strategy and then have a platform strategy. These days what a lot of people are having is only the platform strategy I don’t see businesses having a digital strategy.

Have you seen an evolution in digital marketing in the industry of late? Or do you feel that marketers need to delve deeper to understand this sector to evolve?

You need to delve extremely deep to understand the medium. It’s like a rabbit-hole that has multiple rabbit-holes, everything you can know more and hence, you can do more. Consumers move faster and adopt technology faster than businesses do, for obvious reasons. It does not cost the consumer that much but businesses need to change track and shift marketing budgets to accede technology. But there is massive opportunity for us to use technology. It is an ongoing challenge like a shifting horizon, technology will always move faster and consumers will be one step ahead and marketers will always try to keep up. Wherever the consumer moves, the marketers have to move.

What are your expectations from technology-led media owners on the role they play in helping brands connect with their consumers?
They can tremendously help, for the simple reason that analytics come in to play, and their analytics and the way they give us their target to profile to us to target. They don’t give us personal information and no brand wants to know it either. Marketers need the relevant information to reach consumers at the right moment. I want to reach the consumer who is feeling the pinch at that moment, for example if I am a fast food chain and I want to connect with the consumer when he is getting the hunger pangs, I also want to also be on top of mind so I want to also connect with the consumer before he feels hungry. That I shall know by studying the profile of the consumer and similar consumers about what they do when they feel hungry and what time do they feel hungry. In food top of mind is important, so you advertise on, TV and other mediums that initiate impact buys.

If I am talking to a technology driven publisher, then I can say for argument sake that the consumer feels hungry at around 12:30 -1:00 in the afternoon. Between 10:30-12:30 I can engage this consumer in such a manner that induces hunger. I can reach him since I know where he is located through geo-targeting, but if this soncumer is in a specific area then the nearby restaurants can target him. A tech driven publisher can support brands with this information. Today a brand can segment and target a profile to one person and technology led media owners can help do that.

As mobile and social grow in India, do you see digital ad spends shifting from the likes of search and display? Is ecommerce getting added to this spend, and showing any ROI?

Ecommerce is getting added big-time as more people are getting friendlier with making purchases online and there is more tracking that is available. If I know that I have created a lead who has gone into an e-commerce site, I can know what he has done over there, therefore I know how to reverse-optimise. Earlier that was not possible and today it is, therefore I have more confidence in spending in e-commerce sites. Since more digital money is being created, more ecommerce is growing, with this growth more marketers are increasing their spends.

As for search, if consumers spend more time on it, marketers will spend more on it too. Search will be important at least in the foreseeable future, social is becoming a space where people are also searching, whether be social bookmarking or peer forums. It is not a vertical growth but horizontal growth.

Do you think the industry lack a measurement currency?

The industry does lacks the currency. Measurement is most critical in digital, that is the biggest and strongest advantage that digital has – measurement and low turnaround times. For marketers to be able to do something in low-turnaround times, they need to know what to change and that comes from analytics, which is not evolved. There is a massive scope of improvement in terms of tone and in terms of the adoption of analytics. Not many brands hyper-spend on analytics or hyper-focus on analytics. That is a definite area of opportunity.

What do you think are three big trends to watch out for in the media industry per se – digital or otherwise?

I see three very simple trends: one is data centric consumer journey management, simply put you know what consumers are doing and because of this you can engage with them accordingly. It is not going to be ten responses for every situation, for each situation you need to create a response, the brand has to engage the consumer individually and at a personalised level, that will be possible when things are data driven. More and more businesses that are data driven will grow faster, and watching them grow, everyone will join the brand-wagon.

Second, we will see marketing automation come into play – this is where you have created pre-determined responses and disruptions, but all algorithm driven. The third is, all brands that are data driven are chasing lead generation, it is a hot topic, from search to cart, social to cart, we take pride in doing that.

But I see a trend where lead generation is turning into lead nurturing. This whole concept of window shopping online has taken a back-seat in the marketers mind. Because you can measure you can see, I have spent so much money and so much conversions have happened, but it takes time for consumers to window-shop. So marketers will conscious of the window shopping that happens online.