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Blogs: The new advertising destination

The consumer engagement objective of brands is increasingly being fulfilled through bloggers' posts. Communities such as Indiblogger are gaining acceptance from big brands as they deliver measurable engagement

Blogs: The new advertising destination

The consumer engagement objective of brands is increasingly being fulfilled through bloggers' posts. Communities such as Indiblogger are gaining acceptance from big brands as they deliver measurable engagement

Ananya Saha | Delhi | June 14, 2012

Marketing never stops. Television, radio, mobile handsets, posters, hoardings, wherever you go, advertisements follow. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. It might get the brands and creators accolades, but might not sell the product. What works then? Some even swear by word-of-mouth publicity. After having exploited traditional media, marketers are now turning aggressively to digital and social media in the hope of targeting the consumer more effectively.

The consumer engagement objective of brands is increasingly being fulfilled through bloggers' posts. Many brands and products ranging from car makers to Kissan Tomato Ketchup, from Dove to StayFree, are turning towards the consumer directly, seeking endorsements, promoting social interactions and widening the consumer base, and thus, achieving all those targets that brands have been trying to do through aggressive advertising. Even as Facebook and Twitter become must-haves in media strategy of brands wanting to connect with the youth, blogs as a medium are increasingly been leveraged as a means to interact and influence the consumer.

IndiBlogger.in boasts of being the largest network of Indian bloggers and acts as a community engagement platform that allows brands to actively engage with bloggers via contests, blogger meets, and specifically designed marketing campaigns and platforms. So far, IndiBlogger.in has conducted 46 blogger meets in India. Brands such as Lakme, Vodafone, Spice Mobile, Mahindra XUV, Kissan, Dove, Samsung, Surf Excel, Tata Grande, KFC, HP, Stayfree, Close Up, to name some, have used the IndiBlogger.in platform to connect with their consumers.

Also, Expedia (an online travel company) and Qvendo (a luxury private shopping club) have organised blogger engagement campaigns with IndiBlogger.in. In the past, Cleartrip and Dell have also organised blogging contests through IndiBlogger.in. Sample this: Dove reached out to a much higher number of people – as much as 4.3million+ – in their target audience segment compared with its Facebook page reach.

Vineet Rajan, Director, IndiBlogger.in, said, “Since its inception in 2007, IndiBlogger has done 52 blogger meets across the country and over 50 contests with brands across various sectors including FMCG, travel and aviation, retail, auto and so on. Our meets are one of the biggest events in India when it comes to bringing online influencers in an offline platform. The one hosted in Delhi recently was the biggest ever gathering of bloggers the capital city has seen with over 270 bloggers coming together.”

Bloggers becoming brands

Today bloggers have become brands in their own way. They have their loyal readers/followers and are social networks in their own way to put it in a nutshell. Consumer products and brands realise the value of social media to connect with the target audience. For every campaign that a brand launches, the most important factor is its reach and bloggers are a direct and effective way to get the masses to endorse and talk about a product. A continuous engagement with bloggers is what would keep one brand ahead of the rest.

Spice Mobiles recently hosted the biggest ever bloggers meet for Delhi/NCR bloggers. The action packed event saw more than 250 city-based bloggers participating. Payal Gaba, Vice-President, Marketing, Spice Mobiles, said, “The most important thing in social media is ‘listening’ – brands should listen to what people are saying. This strategy has helped Spice in detecting the sentiment and analysing the situation to understand the issue and devise a plan to address it.”

How does it help? Explained Gaba, “We at Spice use social media very aggressively in our media mix. We are very actively listening to our users and answering them on real-time basis. This has helped us to move a step closer to the consumer. It helps us to read the pulse of the users, crisis management, new product development, brand snapshot, competitive intelligence, demographic segmentation, and service engagements.”

Influence the influencer and ROI

Blogs, as an interactive medium, has control on the content posted. Bloggers have a good readership and good networking skills – both online and offline – and they use their networking to publicise their content on various social platforms. This phenomenon has been caught on by brands to engage with bloggers – to influence the influencers (bloggers). Bloggers like to express their views on what’s happening around them and what affects them the most and share strong opinions. They have the power to bring about change.

What is also important to note is that this medium’s ROI can be measured. Rajan outlined, “The RoI of blogger engagement campaigns can be measured by calculating the number of blog readers reached, hits on the contest page, presence of bloggers at blogger meets, number of tweets and Facebook shares, number of participants from the target group of customers, and other demographics. From all these factors, the ROI is much better in the case of blogs compared with other social or traditional mediums.”

As the game to influence the influencers gets interesting, IndiBlogger boasts of constant innovation and cutting edge technologies like the IndiRank. “If we look at media on the whole, we have paid media like banner ads, SEM; owned media like websites, Facebook channels; and finally, earned media where others talk about a brand based on the positive influence they have, which could be as a result of brand engagement, prizes, giveaways and so on. So, IndiBlogger as a product essentially plugs that gap where a brand garners earned media since it carries a lot more trust and credibility. Research has shown that less than 20 per cent of netizens trust ads compared with a whopping 70 per cent who trust peers and word-of-mouth recommendations,” said Rajan.

“As Facebook and Twitter become hygiene platforms for most brands, currently, to extend their communication and a window for interaction with the users, blogging is an extension for the brand in the online space. Blogs act as a window to ecommerce, which is the buzz in the country, and supports buying decisions in the always-online youth today,” asserted Gaba.

In short, blogs are fast becoming a not-to-be-missed media for brands.

“What is going to keep a brand ahead of others is how they can connect with and influence bloggers, primarily because they have the highest networking quotient coupled with trust and credibility in the online space. In short, bloggers are the best bet towards building a pool of brand evangelists and ambassadors. Blogging is already big, and it’s only going to get bigger,” said Rajan on an optimistic note.



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