Digital advertising expenditure of brands may have grown to almost Rs 20,000 crore a year to become the second-largest medium in India after TV. However, advertisers are now becoming wary of the constantly changing advertising policy of leading platforms such as Google and Facebook.
Brands are now feeling the need to have consistent policies and measurement systems. Sharing about how the constant changes in the digital ecosystem are difficult to keep track of, Pawan Sarda, Group Head- Digital, Marketing and e-commerce, Future Group, said that the moment an advertiser realises something is working for his brand, the platforms suddenly throw some new changes.
“We struggle to keep pace with these new changes everyday and these issues create a limit for us. We understand that this is an evolving medium, but because of the constant changes it becomes difficult and we have to be careful of our spending. But that doesn’t mean it becomes less important for us, but the investments could be limited as one has to be extremely careful,” he said.
Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director, Marketing and Sales at Maruti Suzuki India, said that brand safety is another issue with digital media.
“Once you put content out there, the retrieval is difficult. While it is a more powerful medium for communication, it is also powerful in terms of the damage it can do to brand safety. You have to not only ensure the ad or communication is correct but also how it is shown. Brand safety is not only about maintaining reputation online but also about the right associations as well,” he said.
Agreeing to the same, Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head, Parle Products, said, “We talk about programmatic ads but we still do not know the placement of our ads on digital, where it might reflect. Advertisers need to know who is going to watch what content. This needs to be addressed and contained.”
He also added that one of the major issues with digital is the ROI in terms of whether the real customers are watching the ads or the bots. Advertisers are not able to gauge the transparency on digital. He said a better hang of ROI will push advertisers to be far more open to advertise and spend on the medium.
Evolving nature of digital will keep marketers on their toes
Srivastava advised marketers to be more adaptive, alert and to have a full-time management of the marketing aspects. However, he added, “It is not just the evolution or the change in consumer preferences but also laws that govern the ecosystem. Even the government has no fixed laws because the medium itself is evolving. The regulatory environment for the medium is not fixed and therefore the dangers of violating data privacy laws are very real and that is why it is challenging for marketers.”
MVS Murthy, Head Marketing and Digital, Tata Asset Management, added that the digital companies will need to take a leaf or two from how products in some other categories have adapted to the laws of various nations. Digital is not above culture, it is custom fit to culture. It may take time to recalibrate, but one will have to abide by amendments.
“The other thing to do is to become a part of the solution whenever the opportunity is given and help formulate frameworks that benefit everyone. That’s the digital journey,” he said.
Srivastava said, “The big issue right now is the distinction that consumers are trying to make between what is fake and what is real on digital mediums. The trust part is still bigger on traditional mediums. Ultimately what you communicate to the consumer has to be seen with the eyes of trust. Advertisers still don’t have complete trust on digital and the reason for this is the missing accountability and trust."
Murthy said, “The medium is co-owned by the consumer, the platform, and the advertiser. It’s almost like a park being managed by different types of citizens. With increasing usage, there will be newer nuances, security loops, and perspectives on dos and don’ts. Changes do break the routines of your journeys, however, we need to continue to utilise the digital ecosystem respecting the new rules."