Media Planners Talk About How Digital Media Buying Has Played Out In 2015

Digital media planners and buyers think that 2015 has been a great year with businesses increasing digital ad spends. However digital has still to match with other media spends


In the last few years, the entire mechanics of digital media planning has drastically changed its approach. With digital native consumers on the rise, not only are businesses engaging with them but spends are also increasing with every passing year.

“Earlier, media planning used to comprise significant share for awareness and performance driven objectives that was spread across Google search, display and remarketing, Facebook fan acquisition and stamp ads, Mobile ads and Affiliates led CPL and CPA campaigns. Another major allotment was done on road blocks and innovation banners across top portals,” informed Nishith Srivastava, Director Strategy and Planning for J Walter Thomson India.

Today, the spread of budgets have changed with content marketing becoming the core. Amyn Ghadiali added, “Initially brands used to discuss with us campaigns and lay a lot of emphasis on getting organic visibility, whereas now brands are willing to contribute almost 20-30% of the budget on digital advertising/media in order to ensure that the campaign is holistic.”

Digital may be the young exciting kid that’s growing but still to an extent it’s considered the step child when compared to media spends on other dominant traditional mediums. “As a digital marketing industry, we (India) are 4-5 years behind the global market in terms of digital marketing practices. Clients are spending around 25-30% extra money on digital marketing than they should be due to a lack of efficiency. Digital Media Planning is far behind traditional media planning in terms of scientific approach based on market research, consumer behavior analysis and understanding of the brand,” informed Shweta Ayare, Head Media Spends at Gozoop.

To get a holistic idea on how digital media planning has evolved in 2015, Lighthouse Insights spoke to expert  planners. Listed below are the edited excerpts of the email conversations:

Amyn Ghadiali, Head of Strategy & Social Media, Trivone Digital

For some of the brands, digital marketing spends constitute 35-40% of their total marketing budget as opposed to 5-7% in 2010. The growth has been tremendous, marketers are in constant quest to make sense of the ‘Big Data’ available to them & ensure that ROI is not a mystery anymore. Right from the promotion of movies to brands, social media promotion (paid) has been the most efficient, cheapest and fastest because it has mixed traditional promotion and conversational marketing.

Priyanka Vasant, Digital Media Planner, The Glitch

2015 was a great year for digital marketing. Brands this year, have invested in digital spends more than any other time and the graph only keeps going up. Video content was given a lot more importance by brands in 2015. Platforms like Facebook have closely looked at this trend and introduced Video views as a part of the promotion objectives they offer.

Instagram allowing sponsored posts from November onwards was a major highlight. The three favourites on the digital - Facebook, Twitter and Google have made continuous changes on their interface understanding the growing importance of social media spends and the huge market for it that there is.

Vineet Kanabar, Group Head, Digital Strategy, PHD Media

I think 2015 is the year that we can finally say digital has gone mainstream – the medium has evolved from being the last slide on a strategy presentation to the first port of call for innovative messaging, and incremental reach. Growing video reach and the penetration of mobile internet have driven this change in marketing mix. More brands are looking at digital to enable richer brand engagements.

Vishal Agrahari, Search & Media Group Head, BC Web Wise

Digital media marketing spends have increased, though they remain to be a small part of total ad spends. At the same time, the emphasis has been on programmatic buying that can deliver meaningful brand-building in sync with consumer behaviour.

Planners are allocating budgets for audience bucketing and further retargeting to enhance ROI. They are more keen on leveraging the consumer insight to understand the touchpoint of each target and deliver impactful campaigns with creative, effective storytelling. For example, content marketing claimed a large portion of the media spends of digital-first brands such as ASUS. It will grow further in coming times.

Facebook increased its versatility as an advertising platform in more ways than one. In addition to opening up Instagram for advertisers, it introduced branding opportunities for hyper-local targeting with Local Awareness ads. The move opened up another effective and affordable avenue for media planners to perform on campaigns.

2015 – Mobile playing a big role

Along with the regular digital outlets, Mobile has played a bigger role. “Creation of digital and mobile assets to drive engagement extended with an Omnichannel approach using Phygital (Physical + Digital) initiatives,” Nishith added.

Vishal elaborated that mobile has grown faster than any other digital medium, playing a bigger role than before in delivering high reach, engagement and ROI. “Brands like XSEED received more enquiries for its product on mobile than on desktop.”

There isn’t a doubt that businesses are seriously increasing media spends on a medium that was considered a free one, couple of years back. But is that enough compared to other mediums? 2016 holds a lot of promise but before that we need to be in sync with traditional (ATL & BTL) mediums to create greater impact.

“Currently Digital Media Plans are not in-sync with other platforms and hence overall campaign impact is much lower. Airtel 4G campaign, Flipkart first big billion campaign, Kotak Kona Kona campaigns, etc. are prime examples of poor Integrated Marketing Communications,” Shweta pointed out.