The morning was different as we were at the WAT Summit 2012 to find out if it is the dawn of digital age in India. As we were adjusting ourselves in the aura of Hilton, Rajiv Dingra the CEO of WAT made himself comfortable at the podium. Rajiv who has watched the digital space for more than five years shared his perspective that India is going to see a massive growth in the digital space. To quote his own words Rajiv spoke about being fairly young but catering to some of the oldest organizations of the world although his teams collective experience may not be even fifty years. Moving forward he emphasized on a thought that was appreciated by the audience and tweeps:
[pullquote=”lhipull”, class=”left_pull”]Digital age is not about clicks, likes or conversations. It’s about a new kind of behaviour.[/pullquote]
It is all about accepting a new kind of behavior. Behavioral change is about buying via internet, using mobile as the mode of payments, etc. need to happen then only one can justify the numbers projected in the excel sheet. Rajiv left the stage for Ben Edelman but before he left he had summarized the day in 140 characters.
Ben took the stage and shared some great insights on how a global company should drive traffic to its website. Ben who is an assistant professor at Harvard Business School said that typically a website can think of the following ways to drive traffic to its website:
1. Offline, banners, affiliated links
2. Email marketing
3. Social Media
4. Algorithmic Search
5. Paid Search
During his keynote talk, Ben focused on three major key drivers of traffic - Social Media, Algorithmic Search and Paid Search.
Social Media in its present day is driven by Facebook but Ben showed us how the ad model of Facebook is quite lame. The ads that were being showed to him were not only irrelevant but insulting too. For e.g. one of the ads was about dating service where as Ben is already married and his Facebook status clearly states that. The other ads were also irrelevant and he thinks that Facebook is not doing a great job and in the same breath he also expressed that people in US have started to move on from Facebook.
Along with this he also criticized the way algorithmic search is being dominated by Google. Google is not only is trying to favor its content but it is suppressing other good content. So even algorithmic search is not good today. He helped us to understand this with a fairly simple e.g. Type ‘Acne’ and then type ‘Acne,’ in Google search and see the difference in results. In the former, Google Health link gets priority over other links, whereas in the latter it worked as per the algorithm.
Finally we were left with Paid Search, a segment again dominated by Google and it makes sure that you are spending a lot too. However Ben added that Algorithmic Search and Paid Search have been in business for long time and they are the trusted and best ways out there. He ended his key note that you need to create unique and viral content, useful technologies and create top-notch experiences that covert your customers into fans to help drive traffic to your site.
Unique content will always be the key and Ben not only highlighted some amazing facts but also shared the various ways how Google is dominating and using unethical ways to make money. Would have loved it if someone from Google was out there listening to Ben!
The second talk was more of a data driven presentation by Parijat Chakraborty, Executive Director, TNS India.” Are we Turning Social?” was his topic of discussion and a subject that is one of my favorite too. Parijat’s presentation was based on research about the behavioral aspect of people from four countries viz. US, Indonesia, India and Malaysia. He also shared some amazing data about how people in US are not so cool to see brands on their social space but Indians are quite interested even though there is low internet penetration.
[pullquote id=”lhipull”, class=”left_pull”]On an average, Indians follow 17 brands on social media.[/pullquote]
Indonesia on other hand was not so brand savvy but has been quite active on producing and consuming blogs.There were some other great amazing facts regarding adoption of technology, how social media is changing perceptions, etc. which were all part of a global study done at TNS.(We will see if we can get the complete presentation)
Both the talks had very different perspectives but one thing that was common was of having unique content. This thought was more or less echoed at all the panel discussions and trended heavily on Day one of WAT Summit 2012.