A study by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, ‘Addicted to Connectivity’, carried out over January and February online, found that of the 80% respondents in India who said they received advertisements on their mobile phones, only 36% said they acted on them.
That’s not great news for advertisers who are now looking beyond SMS and pop-up ads to more sophisticated ads on the internet accessed on desktops/laptops and on mobile smartphones as must-haves in their media plans. The Deloitte finding could well be a pointer to their need to really understand how their consumers behave on digital media to actually get their ads to work on these platforms.
Mindshare, GroupM’s (WPP Group) media and marketing services network, carried out a global study in partnership with Microsoft and MEC, covering 7,000 internet users. The study, ‘Living with the Internet – What is Driving Web Behaviour’, seeks to understand internet consumer behaviour – over laptops and mobile phones – to garner valuable insights for effective advertising.
Some key findings, especially about India’s internet consumers, provide fresh food for thought on a medium where the potential intrusiveness of advertising is far greater than on more traditional media. For online advertisers, the findings show that it is essential to interact with a target audience in a way that complements a their online activity, rather than negatively interrupting it, by making a brand’s presence fit more naturally into a consumer’s experience.
Precisely the reason why the Mindshare-Microsoft-MEC study’s finding that in India (and globally), spontaneous activity on the internet has halved in the last two years as consumers (72%), conscious of the addictive nature of the web, try to stay focused and make better use of time spent online, gains significance.
The other interesting finding of the study was that the purpose of consumer visits to the internet via desktops or laptops are very different from the purposes of their visits via their mobile phones. While smartphone usage, at 34%, is primarily for seeking information and content sharing, laptops/desktops at 33% is high for transactions and entertainment.
The study also found that the majority of time spent on the internet is habitual, with a mere 16% triggered by an event, conversation or offline media. Almost all online sessions start with more personal or intimate destinations such as social networks, emails and blogs; go to the more public forums such as news, entertainment and search; finally going back to the personal destinations. Besides, over 50% of internet users are multi-tasking.
Shubha George, COO, MEC South Asia, said, “The digital world is an amalgamation of multiple digital touch points, often simultaneously. Brands need to activate all aspects of digital to engage the multi-tasking consumer.”
Easier said than done? Possibly because, as R Gowthaman, MD, Mindshare India pointed out: “You can’t do a ‘ctrl (control) C, ctrl V’ ad campaign – there is no one-communication-format in this.” He pointed to the need for a shift in advertising mindset from the progressive AIDA (attention-interest-desire-action) advertising thinking to something far more spontaneous and concurrent. “In the digital format, the consumer would like to seek-involve-share-act. This gives rise to the challenge of addressing consumers not on one medium with one purpose but a medium with four purposes, each an advertising opportunity.”
Not that there is no scope for a cross-media campaign. “A television commercial can appeal at an emotional level, the digital platform can be used to expand on product features, and the mobile platform can give information on the nearest dealer,” Gowthaman said. For an awareness building campaign, he added, you could combine a message on TV and digital display or a combination of social media and TV; and for a call-to-action, digital could be the lead medium.
Debadutta Upadhyaya, VP –India, Vdopia Inc., a digital video advertising and monetisation company, added: “To harvest the full potential of context-aware advertising, marketers would need to intersect compelling creatives with keen understanding of user intent, relevance and real-time geo-targeting.”
Kiran Mani, business head, Google India, expanded: “Based on a consumer’s pattern of behaviour, say you had earlier visited key pages on my website, expressing interest in something but not completing a transaction. I know that you are definitely a potential customer who probably just needs a reminder or a tailor-made offering on subsequent visits. I can do that by remarketing – showing you relevant ads on subsequent visits, which helps me to improve conversions.”
He pointed out that interacting with the consumers by creating relevant activity through advertising helps. During IPL, he said, “the Vodafone brand channel became the most subscribed sponsored brand channel in India, with 8,284,955 total views. Nescafe ran a contest on YouTube for the winner to spend one day as brand ambassador Deepika Padukone’s neighbour. During the Champions League Twenty20, main sponsor Airtel ran its Real Fans engagement activity on You Tube.” Emerging market trends
Alok Kejriwal, CEO and co-founder, Games2win, observed: “If I can, as a consumer, read/use my content online and pay a subscription fee, the publisher is not hard pressed to earn through advertising, which is inherently interruptive. And as Twitter has proved, consumers don’t care how the communication is done as long as the point is made. How much can you say in 160 characters?” All this, he said, will make digital advertising’s challenge that much harder, and maybe even more expensive if the content publisher does not need to chase the ad money. What Indian internet users go online forGowthaman believes the sheer opportunity for online advertising is big enough to surpass hurdles, though the thinking needs to shift. For example, since the Mindshare study finds that transaction is not the primary motivating factor for internet usage, brands should look to avoid allocating substantial budgets towards developing content close to the point of sale.