India Digital Forum 2011 at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi

The India Digital forum was held on 29 July 2011 at the India Habitat centre in Delhi. The topic of the forum was “The Digital Convergence Revolution – Collision of Web, Mobile, Community and Media”. They had an array of speakers lined up for various panel discussions including the topic that I was one of the speakers for “Ecommerce – What is driving this revolution”. My fellow panellists were Vikram Malhi -Expedia, Aloke B, Navin Chandani –Experian India, Uday Sodhi –, Badri Sanjeevi – Mauj Mobile.

India Digital Forum SpeakersIndia Digital Forum Speakers

Some speakers focussed on the basics of the Ecommerce ecosystem, that is, what are key components of setting up an ecommerce enabled website. They covered logistics, payment gateways, shopping cart providers. Other speakers covered the various pain areas within this ecosystem. E.g. Logistics is still at a nascent stage in India, the poor infrastructure in our country & unreliable transportation systems magnify the problems for logistics providers.

Siddharth Lal at India Digital ForumSpeaking at India Digital Forum

I spoke about how to drive traffic to a website, this is the core of any successful website. I have coined a term which I refer to as the “4S Digital Marketing” (name has obviously been derived from The 4 Ps of the Marketing Mix).

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) aka Pay Per Click (PPC)
  3. Social Media Optimization (SMO)
  4. Site Analytics Optimization (SAO)

Social media is being discussed at every forum I go to & is part of the news on a daily basis. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn need to be part of your overall digital strategy. Each business will need to define the optimum level of engagement in each of the Social Media forums & some will lend themselves beautifully to some of these mediums. A B2B business will most likely derive more value from pursuing an active LinkedIn or Twitter strategy rather than focussing on Facebook.

India Digital Forum - Delhi India Digital Forum – Delhi

SEM aka PPC I believe is a fantastic complimentary strategy to SEO. The business needs to determine the correct bidding strategy for its PPC campaigns. In determining your bidding strategy you will need to involve your business head as you will need to determine whether you will look at the lifetime value of a customer or you are only willing to look at the profitability from an immediate sale. Once you have determined this only then can you figure out the correct bidding strategy. Essentially you will need to figure out if your business is willing to “buy” customers knowing that each sale actually results in an immediate loss however once you factor the lifetime value of a customer then you would actually come out ahead.

PPC allows  you to get instant traffic to your website & you can quickly test out keywords to see what works best for you. It is also a good way to do testing for CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization).

India Digital Forum SpeakersIndia Digital Forum Speakers

I chose to focus on my passion within this mix- SEO! I asked for a show of hands within the audience, I asked them how many people actually click on the ads vs the organic search results. Only 4-5 hands went up and the poll results were not suprising as our own research indicates that 87% of the clicks are on the Organic Search results and only 13% clicks are on the “Paid Search Results”. I then gave a quick run down on some basic elements of SEO such as Keyword Research, Title Tags, Content, Links etc.

SAO- Any business that has a website and is not using Site Analytics is making a big mistake. Google offers a free product called Google Analytics & this must be implemented on a website as it gives access to some very powerful statistics. Some key terms to look out for are: “Bounce Rate”, “Time on site” , “Page Views”, “Keywords”, “Landing Pages” etc

More info about the India Digital Forum by CellStrat can be found here:

Adtech Delhi Day 2 Evening Session – Sav Evangelou

Sav Evangelou Adtech Delhi
Sav Evangelou Adtech Delhi

Brands have to earn the right to play a role in people’s lives

Many keynotes later, ad:tech Delhi is drawing to a close. After some amazing insights, heavy stats and insightful case studies, it’s the one of the last Keynote presentations of the event and it has Sav Evangelou, the Executive Creative Director of Digitas up on the podium. This has to be one of the more interesting keynotes since Sav turns out to be a very effective presenter and has a bunch of content to keep the audience interested. Sitting up in rapt attention, I listen as he speaks about how brands need to have conversations with their customers. (I so agree!) . He continues saying that interruption advertising is diminishing in effect because people have been conditioned to get what they want when they want. So Sav says that due to this, brands have to re-evaluate their view of interruption advertising to create reasons for brands to be engaging. Interestingly Sav comes out with a list of top ten tips to help brands find a role in people’s lives and backs them up with some examples. He goes through them in a reverse order ( kind of reminds me of a rocket launch countdown) . I don’t think I am going to get through the entire 10 so here are a couple of tips:

The first tip (or rather 10th tip since he is doing a reverse count) is, “Listening harder allows you to get closer to your customer”. For example, Ariel UK they created a website that answers questions on laundry. This created some good buzz amongst its customers along with a very vital brand connect and this also helped Ariel differentiate itself from the competition.

Sav also shared for the benefit of the Indian audience that in India the average CTR is .18% which means that 99.82% of people don’t click on the ads. Now if that stat has you scratching your head in disappointment, you shouldn’t because a Head and shoulders ad achieved a 100% CTR (I tried searching but couldn’t find that particular ad). He also speaks about a very tongue in cheek Land Rover ad which is about a football player vs. a rugby player (must watch!) which went viral and got more than 116,000 views and counting.

Viral YouTube Ads and videos from major brands

Nissan – Another auto brand he spoke about was Nissan which created a campaign around the Nissan Juke. I found this campaign interesting since it was a rebranding campaign aimed as repositioning the Nissan Juke as a runabout for the youth as opposed to the older model which was targeted towards a more mature audience. This campaign was aimed at musically inclined people and allowed these budding musicians to compose their tune and then based on people’s voting, the best one would be selected out of a top 10 and get a chance to get his or her music track professionally produced and launched at a concert with La Roux (a popular band in the UK). The smart association of music and youth created oodles of positive buzz via blogs, websites and social media around the Nissan Juke and contributed to strong and robust sales numbers for the Japanese carmaker.

Lacoste – Speaking of repositioning brand and their products, Sav spoke about Lacoste which again is a brand associated with a mature audience but wanted their latest fragrance L.12.12( yup they make perfumes too. Not just tees) to be popular with the youth. To do just that Lacoste made a Viral YouTube video that featured a series of videos around the spotting of a crocodile in public places round London. This campaign was immensely successful and succeeded in getting positive buzz and established a vital brand connect with the youth around the Lacoste’s L.12.12 fragrance.

Snickers – In case by now you are feeling hungry, then the next example will probably increase your hunger. Popular brand Snickers wanted to create a campaign that focused around energy and around its Male audience. Since it missed out on sponsoring the major football teams, it decided to create a football match of its own which would be an entry into the Guinness Book of World records for the longest football match in the world. Sav shared the ad (Step up to make football history) which went viral (and why not!). Snickers smartly used football along with the Guinness record to its advantage. They got loads of free media coverage (print, tv etc across Europe & Middle East) & generated lot of online buzz. In fact the entire match was live streamed on the Internet.

After those viral ads and creative insights offered by Sav it was time to bid adieu to adtech Delhi. Somehow it did feel odd that there wasn’t going to be any more sessions to attend and 48 hours went by like a breeze.

My impressions and viewpoints on ad:tech Delhi – So what did I think of the event? It was certainly well organized & they had a great speaker line up & some interesting panel discussions. I believe Social Media & creativity dominated the topics at the event. Being in the SEO space I would have loved to hear a lot more about Search Engine Optimization. But this topic hardly came up. Even in the two panel discussions that were supposed to be about this topic it got clubbed in with PPC.

However given that Social Media is such a hot topic I enjoyed hearing from the entrepreneurs as well as evangelists in this space. Being an optimist I believe every cloud has a silver lining & the way I look at this is that it isn’t that bad that they didn’t cover the SEO topic in detail. In case you are hungry for SEO know how, tips, advice or strategies, Bruce Clay will be conducting SEO training in India from 2nd August to 4th August 2011. We will definitely be there and hope to see you there too.

Please note: Credit for all the photos go to the photographer Naina Redhu.

ad:tech Delhi Day 2 Afternoon Session – Pearl Uppal, Fashion and You

Pearl Uppal Keynote Adtech New Delhi
Pearl Uppal Keynote Adtech New Delhi

Social Commerce: Shopping Meets Social Media

So we have arrived at the penultimate session of the day & I am looking forward to hear what Pearl has to say. As she walks up the stage & into the spotlight I am very suprised to see what she is wearing. Oops! she didn’t realize it but it was a wrong choice of material to be wearing in the spotlight. For those of you who don’t know, Pearl Uppal is the co-founder and CEO of and her keynote focuses on trends surrounding social media and ecommerce. She starts by recommending the book “Socialnomics” and also plays a video which is about social media (amazing video if you haven’t seen it and love that soundtrack) and got to admit that video gets my attention when putting social media in perspective. Also an interesting stat Pearl shares is the 25% of the SERPS are dominated by user generated content when running a search for a branded keyword.

She also shares interesting insights about how major companies are cashing in using the social media phenomenon. A few examples of such companies are :

  • uses FB powered recommendations as a way of convincing prospective customers whether to buy a product or not.
  • Macys – they used an awesome magic fitting room concept by way of which they allowed users to try on new clothes virtually and then share their new outfits via Facebook. This was immensely successful and led to two thirds of the customers using Social media to share their experience with friends and family.
  • Best Buy- now a case study on twitter, they are famous for using twitter as a platform for customer service and attending to customer queries. The @twelpforce has provided over 38,000 answers to customer inquiries and has been well received by the customers and best buy employees alike

Hmm defiantly some interesting examples of how brand and companies can leverage social media to their advantage. Apart from the examples, Pearl now talks about which has now raked up about 10 million users in just 12 months. Her USP, offer irresistable discounts on big brands with a limited time offer and to an exclusive member base (closed user group). Hmm all this has me thinking what Pearl did for promoting her brand. It turns out that she promoted her brand using the following key elements.

  • Viral Marketing – Collaborative tools (Social sign in thru FB) & power of referral marketing
  • Fan first promotions –Pearl rightly says that it’s important to give something back to your fans. E.g they run a promotion “Twitter Tuesdays”
  • Videos – putting up interesting content on YouTube can help your brand grow in terms of customer recall and brand value.
  • Enhanced customer service – the boys at Best Buy showed that social media can be used very effectively for attending to customer queries.

Case Study – Carlton London- have done 9 sale events with Fashion & you & have sold 25,000 units in 4 months generating a total revenue of approx 2 crores. Their primary motivation was to check if the Indian market is ready to accept their products.

She caps it off by saying they haven’t spent money on offline advertising and this month they will ship 100,000 orders! Wow, well done Pearl!

Please note: Credit for all the photos go to the photographer Naina Redhu.

ad:tech Delhi Day 2 Morning Session – David Fischer, Facebook

David Fischer Adtech New Delhi
Adtech New Delhi

After all the knowledge and insights gained yesterday, I was hungry for more and day 2 didn’t disappoint me much. After settling with my usual cuppa coffee, I sat down for a keynote from David Fischer who is the VP of Advertising and Global Operations at Facebook (these designations keep on getting longer don’t they?). David started his keynote by saying that Facebook takes you from “what to the who”. David shared an interesting fact that Indian users of Facebook spend 3 hours/ month vs. 1hr 50 minutes/month spent on Google. Deciding to let that stat sink in, David then showed a hilarious clip of a person getting married and as soon as the priest says “I pronounce you husband and wife”, the man pulls out a mobile phone and changes his relationship status on Facebook to “married” (that’s really cute).

Many of us associate Facebook with being a way to find old friends and make new ones too. But some people have used Facebook for social causes as well. David speaks of an incident when Beth was desperately looking for a kidney donor & found an angel donor who was ready to give a kidney for someone that person barely knew. So in case you thought that Facebook was just fun and games, think again.

Coming back to the topic of discussion, David draws attention to the fact that although there are around 90 million active websites, there are 500 million FB profiles. This stat shows you how popular Facebook is and also its reach and power.

Facebook and Indian Brands

Although the Internet in India is growing at a rapid clip, the rise in the numbers of Indians using Facebook has caused Major Indian Companies and Brands to sit up and take notice. Already, websites of the major brands in India have started implementing Facebook’s social pluggins and hence integrating facebook with their websites. David shared a few example of brands and companies which are doing this well.

  • The Times of India (India’s largest newspaper publication) allows users to post comments using their FB logins.
  • Also Cricinfo (a popular cricket portal) saw their referral traffic double after implementing the FB share button on their website.
  • Economic times used Facebook to find out what questions people wanted to ask the finance minister regarding the Indian budget and received a phenomenal response.

Website Vs Facebook which one is more popular?

Along with examples, David shared some interesting insights where a company’s Facebook page was more popular than its website. Hogwash you say? Then check these figures out for yourself

  • Coca Cola – 25 million likes on FB vs. 250,000 website visitors
  • Starbucks – 21 million likes on FB vs. 1.5 million
  • Oreo – 18 million likes on FB vs. 240,000

Wow I don’t know about you, but that was an eye opener for me. But there’s even more good stuff to follow in terms of case studies. Dig in!

Case Study – Amex using Facebook as a marketing platform. In the US they had an SME card that they wanted to market to the small business owners. Amex turned to FB where they took a day in November and called it “Small Business Saturday”. Amex backed this up with strong promotions and advertising through offline media and within 3 weeks they got 1.2 million connections. They backed this up with an offer & they were able to increase sales by 27% as a result of this campaign.

Closer to Home, Indian Telco Tata Indicom’s Facebook fan page has 300,000 fans and counting. David illustrated the benefit of all that fan power by saying that whenever Tata takes out an ad on FB, then people will be able to see if any of their friends like it or not. And according to research by Nielson, people are 68% more likely to click on such an ad ( with more social context) along with their purchasing intent going up by 4 times. This is because someone they trust has just endorsed the ad.

Q& A

Sensing a few queries from the inquisitive members of the audience, David fielded a few questions.

Q>One member of the audience asked that if a company’s fan page has 100,000 fans and it posts an update, will it be visible to all the fans.

A>I found myself thinking, good luck to finding an answer to that mate, but David Fischer jumped in saying that it really depends on Facebook’s Edge Rank algorithm which ranks a story based on the number of interactions, time decay (as in how recent the update is) and other factors. Hmm.. I had just heard of the Edge rank recently at another social media event I attended so I smiled to myself while there was a buzz in the crowd as most had never heard of Edge rank.

Q>Nikhil from Medianama jumps in with his question on how does FB tackle Black Hat practices like fake profiles

A>David acknowledges that there are issues with fake profiles however they are not a major threat. He goes further to emphasize that there is a team at FB which looks at such problems and the team systematically deals with these types of black hat practices effectively.

Summing up this extremely interesting keynote, David spoke on how FB’s personality has always been an informal one and companies would so well to keep this in mind. In case your approach to a FB company account is taking a week to respond to comments after routing responses through legal, then that’s not the way Facebook works. David urged companies to put a 22 year old or a junior employee in charge of a company’s Facebook account since that person will generally be on Facebook most of the time and will understand the pulse of Facebook fans a lot better. I personally would agree and also emphasize that maintaining informality seems to be the key to establishing a strong connect with fans on Facebook.

Please note: Credit for all the photos go to the photographer Naina Redhu.

ad:tech Delhi Day 1 Evening Session – Rajan Anandan Keynote – Google – You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

Rajan Anandan Adtech 2011
Rajan Anandan Adtech 2011

Then it was time for the evening keynote. Generally they save the best for last and there is no doubt it is. Next up is Google India’s Rajan Anandan who is the Managing Director and Vice President for Sales and Operations (I know it’s a pretty long designation). He starts by saying that if you thought that India’s Internet growth has skyrocketed, you haven’t seen anything yet. He also gives some pretty insightful statistics which are listed below –

  • As on April 19, 2011, India’s Internet population stands at 100 million.
  • India has seen 20 times growth in search queries in the past 5 years
  • Out the 100 million Internet users
    • 30 million access the net from home
    • 40 million access the net from work
    • 30 million access the net from an Internet café
  • Indians spend 16 hours on an average online. This is more than the time spent watching TV
  • India is Google’s 3rd largest market in the world (in terms of users)
  • The Indian Online advertising market has crossed 1000 crores in 2010 and is growing at a rate of 50%

Wow I don’t know about you but those stats tell me that the Indian Internet story has some amazing potential when it comes to Digital Marketing. Rajan also shared that Indians generally use the Internet for researching products online; however tend to make the purchase offline. In fact Rajan gave an Industry wise breakup of research being done online vs purchases being made online vs. offline.

Research and purchase being done online vs offline

And the insights don’t just stop there. Rajan points out that in the travel industry, 1/3rd of all bookings will be made online in 2011. Further 54% of people doing research on travel are looking for hotels.

Rajan adds that telcos will find it interesting that 66% of people who bought a mobile phone say that the Internet is the 1st place they go to when researching phones to buy. Also more importantly 47% said that they changed their mind after conducting their research.

In light of the above points, I think it’s safe to conclude that whatever happens online seems to be influencing offline purchases or decisions. With such a plethora of reasons, it’s a foregone conclusion that companies will have to ramp up their digital marketing efforts considerably if they are to catch the consumer’s mind space.

Rajan also brings to light the importance of videos in the Indian scenario and lets us know that more video was uploaded on YouTube than was produced by the 4 largest broadcast networks in the world in the last 5 years (Awesome statistic). Other interesting aspects of videos on India are:

  • India is the 5th largest nation in terms of users of video
  • Dabangg was the 1st sponsored movie on youtube in India and crossed 1 million views in just a week

Case Study – Airtel ran a highly successful contest on theYouTube platform asking users to send in videos. Within 2 weeks, Airtel received 2400 uploads and half million page views which helped it gain brand recognition.

Kiran Mani Google India

Key Takeaways

  • Indians are heavy users of the net and with a high growth rate it’s only going to get better. Early adopters will benefit
  • With the Indian Online advertising market crossing 1000 crores, Digital Marketing has a very bright future in India
  • With the use of Internet banking on the rise, online purchases will increase in the future.
  • With most Indians using the Internet to conduct research on products before buying, companies will need to have a comprehensive Internet presence via websites, social media etc. Also reputation management will be imperative since bad comments and reviews will impact prospective customers adversely.

What a finale for Adtech day 1. Don’t know about you but my head is swirling with a million figures & ideas! Just to put those figures into perceptive, I had my team whip up a sweet Infographic on Internet Usage in India. Check it out and let us know how you like it in the comments section 🙂

Please note: Credit for all the photos go to the photographer Naina Redhu.