Five Digital Trends That Are Unlikely To Change In India In 2016 - Ashwath Ganesan

National Head of Planning at OgilvyOne, Ashwath Ganesan takes a skeptical look at the future of digital in India in 2016, where we still wouldn't know what to measure, VR isn't the next big thing and more

digital marketing trends

Editor’s Note: At LI we are inviting some of the best digital marketing minds of the country to share their opinion on how the market and the different facets will evolve or fail to attract in 2016. This is the second in the series from Ashwath Ganesan, National Head of Planning at OgilvyOne Worldwide. You can connect with him on Twitter - @AshwathGanesan

(Click here to find the entire coverage of this series)

Welcome to 2016, and the endless parade of predictions that always accompany the start of a new year.  January is the most oracular month of the year, filled with trends reports, technology Ashwath Ganesanpredictions, marketing prognostications, and insights into digital behaviour gleaned from tea leaves and goat entrails.

That’s not to say that all of those predictions are bunk. The Delphic voices of our industry belong to smart, thoughtful, and experienced professionals.  But ours is also an industry of hype, and we often fall victim to our own enthusiasm.

To balance out that enthusiasm, here are five cynical counter-predictions – things that are unlikely to change in India in 2016.  Somewhere between this list, and the array of rose-tinted fortellings, we might well find the truth.

Mobile will continue to be the new frontier despite no one quite knowing what that means

900 million mobile subscriptions. Fantastic growth in the smartphone market. The arrival of 4G. If you aren’t mobile, you aren’t anywhere! Brands have to adapt to this new, mobile world.

Well, yes, of course, brands have to adapt. But they are, by and large, focusing on how to get their communications onto a mobile device. That’s folly. Smartphones aren’t a particularly friendly space for brands. When was the last time you intentionally tapped on a mobile banner or display unit? In fact, the most successful mobile media platforms don’t require much adaptation at all. They are Facebook, and YouTube, and Twitter, and so on – and they are all already optimizing for mobile.

Brands do have to adapt to the fact that their products and services might need to be retooled to be more easily consumed over mobile. That’s the actual frontier, and it’s old news. But product and service innovation is difficult, and costly, and will largely be ignored.

Virtual reality will not be the next big thing (for brands)

A brilliant use of Occulus Rift might win you an award, but it’s not going to meaningfully affect your consumers. It’s an expensive device that’s going to be owned by a handful of enthusiasts (for now). It’s going to be crazy exciting for them, no question. They’ll play games and enjoy fantastic experiences crafted by people who know how to make those sorts of things. They will not be similarly excited about exploring the magical world of your biscuit brand or make-up tutorial. And even if they did, they are the aforementioned handful.

Inevitably what we will see is mall activations involving individuals looking hilarious as they put on a bulky headset and gyrate around waving their hands. It will be awesome for the person in the headset.  And hilarious for everyone else. Which will make for great content for Occulus Rift, and not so much for your brand.

B2B digital campaign awards 2015

Brands will still pay agencies to make Facebook posts

Alternate versions of this anti-prediction would involve phrases like ‘always on’ or ‘daily content calendar’.

Organic reach on Facebook is a myth. It will soon be a myth on Twitter, and on Instagram, and anywhere else where the financial future of the platform depends on media money.

Yes, you should be present on social media. But you should be present in a way that is authentic to what you actually do. Reduce friction between your consumers and yourself. Provide great service. Provide great value. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a daily mash-up of stock photos and clichéd copy is going to make consumers fall in love with you – especially when it’s highly unlikely that they’ll ever see the post in the first place.

Brands and agencies will still think of digital as a cluster of platforms and tactics

What will we do on Facebook? What’s our Instagram strategy? These are popular, and understandable questions. But they are narrow. We do not ask what our Television strategy will be. People read! How will be present in all printed material?

Digital is not a medium. It is a vast collection of technologies that, together, have become so ubiquitous that we might as well just call it ‘how people interact with the world’. It’s how people consume content, stay in touch with family, look for jobs, buy groceries, find lovers, and remember birthdays. It’s just life.

So, as it has always been, the way to go about things is to have a great insight, which leads to a great idea, which is expressed in places that are meaningful to consumers.

It’s just that the great insight is powered by an extraordinary wealth of data, great ideas often include great technologies, and relevance can now be laser-focused.

Bonus: everyone will still think of campaigns, instead of platforms

We still won’t quite know what we should be measuring

We’ve gotten to the point, collectively, where we understand that likes and shares and retweets (and hearts and panda-paws and whatever the next iteration of trivial actions of goodwill is) are not meaningful strategic measurements.

We have some idea that what we do online, just like what we do anywhere, should have an impact on things that are important to the business.

However, attribution will continue to be a challenge, as we fail to budget for the same sort of measurement vehicles that we apply to mainline communication. And, as long as we look at ‘digital’ as a form of campaign extension, and thus not as an execution of existing strategic imperatives, we will have a nebulous grasp on its effectiveness.

Well, there you have it – a skeptical look at the future of digital in India in 2016.  Now get out there and prove me wrong!