The Senior VP - Marketing, Info Edge, speaks about how humour has been a differentiator for the property portal as well as the brand’s thematic approach to communication
Shanta Saikia | Delhi | July 6, 2015
Buying property is a major decision for most Indians. While earlier, people scanned the Saturday property sections of newspapers, now people have the online platform to conduct their research. Players like 99acres.com and MagicBricks.com have built up a strong brand presence over the years and have emerged as one-stop shop for all enquiries and information related to real estate matters.
Both these property portals are also strong on the communications front, but with distinctly different approaches.
Sumeet Singh, Senior VP - Marketing, Info Edge, speaks to BestMediaInfo.com on the advertising strategy followed by 99acres.com and how humour has worked well for them. Excerpts:
How have the campaigns for 99acres.com evolved over time?
The Shahjahan ad was the first ad that we did for 99acres.com and it is the one which is entrenched the longest in people’s memories. Even at that time we decided to take the humour angle rather than hardsell the offering.
We did another campaign after that in December last year, which was around new projects. The ad, which also had a humourous twist, featured a couple, who were seemingly discussing people that they liked, but in the end it turned out that they were actually discussing housing projects. The campaign thought was check out all the options before taking a buying decision. But that campaign wasn’t exposed for too long.
We are currently running the campaign where a guy has to suddenly move out of his shared rented apartment because his friend decides to move his girlfriend in to live with him.
What are the salient points that you keep in mind while coming out with campaigns for a property like 99acres.com?
When you look at most of our advertising across brands, we do feel that humour works well. We do want our advertising agencies and our creative directors to definitely try and build something with a humourous twist. If you look at the Shahjahan commercial, it was more about establishing the 99acres brand. So the brief was about making a clutter-breaker at a time when not many people were present on the online real estate segment itself – both players as well as consumers. Today, a lot of people have started adopting the online portal for their research. Since buying a property is such a major decision, people will go for actual site visits, but what they look for on the online medium is basically shortlisting and researching on the properties they want to look at. A lot of people also come online for broker research.
We constantly do consumer research to understand what are their major pain points and concerns, and based on that we try to build our advertising strategies. So, if you look at our advertising, we mostly have not built our ads around our features. We identify some of the common concerns of the consumers and what are the solutions that we have to offer that address these concerns, which reflect in our advertising.
How do you maintain the differentiation in your communication and offering?
If you look at it from the offering angle, it is about how we can provide all the information to the consumer. We need to qualify what we are putting in and provide a neutral platform. Broadly speaking, it is the quality of data that is provided. A lot of emphasis in on providing authentic data, for which we have a very exhaustive verification process.
On the communications front, MagicBricks of course has done many more TVCs than we have and their earlier approach was very tactical. If you see, they mostly spoke about features. On the other hand, we have been very thematic. So I think from a communications point of view, that has been a major differentiator. Shahjahan was a completely thematic TVC, it was really wasn’t talking about features but was a category TVC.
How do you pan out your campaigns across multiple media platforms?
One permanent fixture on our marketing mix is digital advertising, because that is real bread and butter in the sense that that it is very acquisition driven, very performance driven and a lot of that happens on Google. So, when people are searching for you, you want to be there; a lot of digital advertising happens there.
It is not easy as a marketer to decide whether to take the same communication everywhere, which ideally you feel will work better. Or should I do each medium with different trends and communication? And if you see our last campaign, that’s what we have done. While we had a new TVC that we launched, the outdoor creative was not the same as the TVC creative. We kept the theme same, but wanted something clutter-breaking in outdoor media, because there are so many creatives from different advertisers and you are also competing with creatives which have celebrities as brand ambassadors, which anyway grab eyeballs. So we felt that the 3D campaign that we came out with would be eye-catching and didn’t go about creating everything around the TVC. The one important thing that we kept in mind was that our core messaging should be kept uniform.
We have always used radio as our local medium and have a local flavour in the language and communication in order to connect with the consumers in a particular city. On radio, we have various types of communication; we have spots on property trends, spots on price trends, spots that talk about our product features, spots on our mobile app. We feel that radio as a media platform allows us the flexibility to modify our communication.