Business Today

The Right Plan and the Right Network

With social spends now within touching distance of search, agencies are appointing specialist social media planners to decide where to park the advertising dollar and what to say there.
Arunima Mishra | Print Edition: March 1, 2015
The Right Plan and the Right Network
Illustration: Raj Verma

Two months ago, Xolo Mobile, the sub-brand of handset maker Lava, created a stir when it launched its Omega 5 and Omega 5.5 smartphones on Twitter. #TouchOmega ranked among the top three trending discussions. Havas Media did the digital duties for Xolo.

Log out of Facebook and you will see ads from Jabong, Kindle, Snapdeal or HTC. Increasingly, brands are leveraging FB logout ads.

Hospitality brand ITC Hotels has taken to the social media platform Instagram where it hosts conversations around WineWednesday. Nimesh Shah, Head Maven of Windchimes Communications, a digital experiential agency which makes the ITC Hotels social campaigns, says: "The total digital spends for our clients now account for eight to 12 per cent of total ad spends, of which social media accounts for 40 to 60 per cent of it."

The social media juggernaut rolls on, gathering ad spends in its wake as brands are parking more and more of their campaigns on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. In 2014, media planners in India forked out 10 per cent more than they had budgeted in 2013 for social media spends. Indications are that in 2015, social will grab a greater share of the ever growing digital pie.

A report by GroupM, the media planning and buying agency of the WPP Group, released on February 2 forecasts a 37 per cent increase in digital media spend, taking the pie to Rs 4,661 crore from Rs 3,402 crore last year. Search is still bigger in absolute terms but brands are now gravitating more towards an exhaustive social media presence. The belief is that continuous engagement with customers will mean better visibility. According to Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, CEO and Co-founder of digital services and products company Gozoop, while search constitutes 60 per cent of digital spends, 40 per cent now belongs to social media.

Indeed, ad agencies are trying to make the most of this emerging trend. They are now appointing specialist social media planners who deal with the increasing fragmentation in the space. Yes, Facebook still dominates but Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr and a host of other platforms, including chat apps, are now attracting brands. Media-planning agencies such as GroupM and Havas Media even have specialists for each type of social media.

Social media spends are also increasing because of the rising spends on content creation. This, in turn, is diverting advertising revenue from pure display to advertising on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and so on. Now, with Facebook's move to kill organic reach, brands will have no choice but to pay for ads on the medium in order to engage with consumers - gone are the days of free play.

Spending on social media is seeing a paradigm shift, says Karthik Nagarajan, National Director of social media and insights, GroupM. He points out that brands spending only on Facebook or Twitter a few years ago are now diversifying into multiple platforms including native advertising.

Illustration: Ajay Thakuri
But, according to Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India & South Asia, India is still a Facebook country. "Therefore, 70 to 75 per cent is allocated towards Facebook, while the rest [of the social media spend] gets broadly distributed between Twitter and LinkedIn. And, YouTube being a part of Google gets tackled through Google spends," she says.

A lot is happening on social media. Several brands - such as Mad Over Donuts, Dell, Asian Paints, Mumbai Indians and Reliance Digital - are tracking the space through social media royalty platforms, such as Gozoop's product ZOZOLO, that measure social RoI in terms of footfalls as well as sales conversions.

Looking ahead, Vikram Menon, President, OgilvyOne Worldwide, India, forecasts a few changes. "There will be a need for content specialists who can create stories and more social media platforms will be treading the pay-to-play path."


Shoot, Chat, Tweet

Twitter has just rolled out new group and video messaging options. Users can now start private conversations with up to 20 people through the direct messaging button. In just a few taps, one can create a group - and they all don't need to follow one another to chat. The video button has been a long-felt need. Earlier, users had to exit the app, and use other apps like Vine to share videos. Now people can shoot videos of a live event right on twitter and share. Facebook and WhatsApp, better watch out!

Measure Your Ad Lift

The advertising piece on Facebook, which just celebrated its 11th birthday, is moving in interesting directions. Just recently, it killed organic reach for brands' FB pages, making it imperative for them to advertise on the network to engage with users. Soon after that, Facebook has announced a tool to measure conversion lift. What this means is that advertisers can now see the additional sales caused by seeing ads. This goes beyond the old fashioned clicks as a measure. How the lift measurement works is: when creating a Facebook campaign, a test group (people that see ads) and a control group (people that don't) are established. When the campaign has ended, advertisers can determine what sales were driven by what ads and see the additional lift that occurred among the test group. Clearly, FB's intent is to grow its ad sales base (already touching insane heights of $3.59 billion last quarter). The next driver: video ads which it started testing in December.

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