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Interview: Rajiv Malhotra, AVP, Interactive, India, Cheil Worldwide

In an exclusive conversation with, Rajiv talks beyond Banner Ads, Microsites and Viral videos.

Interview: Rajiv Malhotra, AVP, Interactive, India, Cheil Worldwide

In an exclusive conversation with, Rajiv talks beyond Banner Ads, Microsites and Viral videos.

Gone are those days when presence of your Brand only on TV and print would ensure good brand recognition. With the changing time it has been proved that brands could also be built without spending exuberant amount on TV, Print and Outdoor. Presence on digital medium can do what presence on other mediums cannot and that too with very little money as this being an interactive platform where you can engage your consumers.

To learn more about the importance of Digital Medium for Advertisers in current time, Rajat Arora of spoke to Veteran Digital Media expert Rajiv Malhotra, who’s also AVP –Interactive- India, Cheil WW.

His most recent role prior to joining Cheil India was as the Head of online marketing for In the past he has worked with, Yahoo! SE Asia and NeuStar UK. His major professional accomplishments include creation of the content management system for, launch of and in 2001 – 2002, Yahoo Travel meta-search engine for SE Asia in 2005, mobile instant messaging products for Neustar in 2007.

Q) As a head of the interactive division of Cheil WW, how has been your journey so far?

A) The journey has indeed been very exciting and fast paced. Cheil is driven by the concept of "Ideas Engineering" which combines the concepts of out-of-box problem solving with a structured process driven approach. This allows me to blend my past experience in performance marketing in creative brand marketing projects, which are very exciting for me. Moreover, my co-workers and team members are excellent and very good at their work. It makes the culture of the organization very dynamic and fast paced.

Q) How much have you been able to capitalize on digital marketing initiatives for the brand?

A) We have had great success in TV, Refrigerator and Home appliances categories for Samsung. We also have very exciting plans for Social Media Marketing, which we will be unveiling in the very near future

Q) What are the core areas to work upon if we consider the approach towards digital innovations within your team?

A) Engaging the consumer in an honest and sustainable manner is our primary motive and core driver for innovation.  Our approach to innovation is driven by the objectives we set for each campaign. Since the core competence of Cheil is idea generation using a problem solving approach, we use the same philosophy to differentiate our work and bring in innovative creativity. The consume always the pivot of our ideation process and we constantly evaluate our solution based on end-consumer benefits

Q) Did you find any difference working on agency side if you compare your previous engagements with the brands itself?

A) The major difference is that one moves from the position of decision maker to advisor and I view this as a distinct advantage. Explaining the merits of an idea to client forces one to see it from multiple prospective. This usually brings out better results than seeing an issue from the confines of the internal KPIs. Working with an agency especially with Cheil has taught me to see solutions from a more holistic prospective.

Q) What are the challenges do you see when it comes to digital spends specially in the market where traditional medium is still dominating?

A) There is huge interest and awareness in advertisers about digital marketing albeit with limited knowledge. Most advertisers see online advertising as Banner ads, Microsites and Viral videos. The major challenges are to broaden understanding of all stakeholders to keep the consumer in the centre and then think campaign objectives based on broader brand Strategy.

Q) Being a digital medium, might have been spending a considerable part of budget on digital marketing. Is the case same here too?

A) is an Online Travel solutions company and Samsung is a Consumer Electronics manufacturer. Comparing their marketing mix and budget allocations to digital marketing may not be appropriate. Samsung is one of the top spenders online, in the CE category. Their spends are based on media consumption habits of their consumers. The budgets as a % of overall spends for a given product change as per the Target audience of each product. For instance, online spends are likely to be higher for a product like Galaxy S mobile phone Vs an entry level microwave.

Q) Why don’t we see some extraordinary digital campaigns in India like west?

A) As I said the industry need to think beyond traditional Banners and Microsite etc. Advertisers need to move from campaign mindset to long-term consumer engagement mindset. We are seeing that shift in Advertisers now. I feel that we will see better work in India very soon.

Q) When do you think, Indian digital creative will be on par with the west and other parts of the world to win international awards?

A) Online users have matured over the last decade. They have access to the best products and advertising globally hence they now expect all Indian products and Advertising to be at par with the best in the world. On the other side, the digital ad industry now has the right talent and implementation skills. The Advertisers also understand that the computer screen and the mobile screen is as critical if not more than the TV screen. They are now willing to invest more time and effort in creating world-class digital campaigns. With all these elements coming together coupled with technology improvement in browsing speeds, 3G, Mobile Internet browsing devices, AMOLED displays etc. I feel the time has come when we will see a drastic improvement in the quality of digital advertising in India. I feel the time is now. We are at the inflection point in the Indian Online Advertising Industry.

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