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Ad stand: Digital Advertising and the new ways to connect

Among the latest way to create communication for brands is the use of messenger apps. Not just WhatsApp or WeChat, but also the Facebook messenger. What messengers allow the brands to do is create a closed loop of users and have a constant conversation

This piece is not about the impending death of TV and the rise of digital advertising. That is not going to happen. Television creates a wave, creates pressure, moves hearts, moves hands and feet. Television advertising works and works efficiently.

This piece is also not about how digital is future, or how digital is more targeted, more efficient or cost effective. All three are alternate facts that the digital media industry has told everyone. Depending on brands, category and markets, the digital media can be efficient or targeted or effective, but that cannot be the rule.

This piece is also not about content marketing. The traditional form of TV and Press Advertising is similar to content advertising of today.

The story of advertising is about the usual things: idea, message and medium. It's the medium that makes digital advertising different from the way we know advertising. No not better, not effective, not challenging, just different. Brands too are experimenting and finding ways of making them work.

Social Media, Banner Advertising, Display Advertising, Landing Pages, You Tube Mastheads, Video Banners, InApp Advertising, Influencer Marketing are stuff that we all have heard of. In some form or other, most brands have used them. However, some newer forms of advertising formats are appearing. These formats have no parallel. I suspect with the way technology is evolving and phones are evolving and incorporating technologies, these formats too are transient.

Among the latest ways to create communication for brands is the use of messenger apps. Not just WhatsApp or WeChat, but also the Facebook messenger. What messengers allow the brands to do is create a closed loop of users and have a constant conversation. Imagine if a sneaker brand created a closed group of running enthusiast and pushed events, offers, discounts not as the brand, but through individual users. Yes, it’s happening, brands are at it. With WhatsApp now rolling out brand pages, this will take form and shapes that we can't know of. This is called dark social, not because it's sinister, but because it's very difficult to track. For a community that is grown on pixel tracking codes, dark social is the hippies of digital advertising. Hippies are rebels that change the way rules are applied, dark social will only keep becoming bigger with ad blockers too around.

Today Facebook Messenger allows you to set up an appointment for a call; now that opens up a newer ways of advertising. What can that be called, not one to many advertising, neither one to one advertising? Maybe content marketing will have a newer channel to leverage and be spread.

This whole Dark Social bit is an outlier media choice right now. The whole bit of earned media, measured impact, media insights doesn't work. Yet the brands can find discontinuous traction as this is all about brand squads and fans. Get ready for it, this is here.

The second thing about advertising on digital medium is that you can't apply the rules of one on to another. Social Media is a gamut of platforms. Yet the way you can customise and tailor advertising on FB, you can't do so on Twitter. Twitter works very differently than FB. The targeting options are not as rich as FB, the platform is not meant for generating the response. As a brand, you cannot apply same rules of push on FB as you would on Twitter and on other platforms like Instagram or LinkedIn.

The newest opportunity and challenge will come from the rise of AI and Chatbots. These are formats that are new, there are no rules to go by, devices play a big role on how the engagement can be driven. The whole AI bit is now beyond headsets or expensive wearable technologies. The phone in your hand is capable of doing some amazing things. The consumers will use it in ways that brands cannot control. The impact of that will be something that brands cannot measure.

In some ways, I think the brands will go back to traditional media with greater focus. The stimulus-response theory we all know so well will continue to work there. The digital advertising medium will remain this hard to navigate the maze that promises a lot of joy, but finding that joy is neither plain nor simple.

Therein lies the true power of digital advertising. It can generate buzz in ways that are not similar to mass media ways.

Yes, mass media, specifically TV, is not going down, it will only become stronger.

(Naresh Gupta is Managing Partner and CSO of Bang in the Middle.)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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