Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Alongside AI and automation in the IT services/BPO industry, RPA has emerged as the latest buzzword. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) allows us to transact in any IT application or website, typically the same way a human would, to automate complex rule-based work. In other words, RPA software and services, allows developers to tailor complex automation to a company’s processes. When an RPA robot is at work, it performs tasks just like a human would — logging in, operating applications, entering data, performing complex calculations and logging out.

RPA has a role play for any task that is repetitive, rule-based and does not require subjective judgements to be made.

The global market for RPA software and services is growing.

Early adopters of RPA have been banking and financial services, telecom and healthcare sectors. There will be substantial employment opportunities in the RPA sector.

Creativity in Digital Advertising

In digital advertising ,both the client and the agency do not give representation to the creative people. The big consulting firms have technology, big data and platforms. However, they lack ideas and the creative people. These days media agencies hire techies. Similarly, consulting firms feel they will hire creative people. Media agencies are in competition with the consulting firms. And consulting firms command a premium. Creative excellence is secondary, and first comes the algorithms, the rising costs, the techies creating videos for the price of the pack of salted peanuts. There is focus on mobile screens weaning away the TV audiences. There is perception that you need youngsters to create communication for the millenial. There are AI applications. In all this, creative excellence is put on the backburner. Creative people too will have to adapt to the new environment. They will have to master new skills. They will have to be fast to deliver the ideas. They will have to learn how to create a post that leads to maximum engagement. In digital world, consumer processes brand information in a matter of seconds. Creative people can experiment, as the price of failure is low. Yes creative people can retain their insights and observations and moorings. They can have India-focus. At the same time they will have to blend their traits with the new context of longer formats, GIFs, interactivity and customised copy.

The new creative team will be crusader out to win respect back for advertising . They will have to care genuinely for the client’s business. They will have to establish contact with the CEOs who know where their company is headed. They will have to develop the contacts with the media so as to get the opportunities to contribute to the popular culture. No digital campaign has affected national consciousness.

Today, digital has reduced itself to the deals and discounts. Media companies have to build solutions around client’s business. That is not happening. They have just become agents again, rather than drivers of growth.

Digital business has prolific output. Every minute 46200 posts are uploaded on Instagram. It is rich content. Every minute 4,52,000 tweets are created. Millions of YouTube videos are viewed, and thousands are created every minute. Digital is a black hole, with the ability to hold unlimited amounts of content. Content creation is democratised. Here, you must have a piece of content that stands out in this clutter. It is much more challenging.

Role of Agencies Redefined

In advertising, there is now competition between big media agencies and tech companies. Both behave differently. A global pitch tends to go big media companies,

There is competition between ad agencies and consultancies. Consultancies specialise in project work and analytics. Agencies will have to develop deep relationships with clients by understanding the strategies to be adopted by them for their business. Agencies must have good talent profile to do so.

A tech company has an advantage over an agency. A lot of people could serve a client. The client executives know the domain. They organise verticals so that they coalesce.

Some agencies are reactive but this depends on agencies. Though they are not a tech company, they too are driven by data and technology and tools.

Clients have become sophisticated. They have a good understanding. They have in-house teams, Agencies have to add value and they have to reinvent.

Digital too is measurable. It is as measurable as you set it up to be. In search, the digital metrics are clear. To get the effectiveness of display and video, and thereafter trading online and offline, the measurement should take notice of these. First understand what you are measuring.

It is desirable that agencies move away from briefs and campaigns but it is difficult to do so. It is easier for the right talent profile.

Trends in Digital Advertising

  1. Nimble : Digital medium is content hungry. It requires snackable content. Digital can be guided by big ideas, but the voluminous content in digital wholly cannot be big-idea-driven. Big idea is replaced by hundreds of small ideas — those micro moments which engage the  audience. Digital agencies must be able to pick up snackable content by being nimble.
  2. Content : Per se, the consumer is not intrested in the brand. He requires engagig content. Some content may not serve the marketing objectives. The content must be targeted to an audience. It should be valuable, relevant and consistent.
  3. Eco-system : Multiple apps clutter a phone. There are integrating apps where one app enables bill payments, cab booking, food ordering and playing games. It is necessary to create a digital eco-system.
  4. Bots Bots are digital assistants. They are for cusomer service as well as for prompting purchases. They do entertain.
  5. AI will make thins better.It will revolutionise e-coomerce, gaming, product design and health care.
  6. Technology will generate ideas. There will be technology-based execution. It will be a new experience.
  7. Chronological Facebook and Instagram changed completely with the advent of algorithm in 2016. It regulated free-flowing content. Businesses were made to pay for the ads. There will be more influencer marketing. Consumers trust less known influencers than celebrities. Micro-influencers will become more important.
  8. Collaboration between social media and e-commerce will increase. Commerce gets to know consumer preferences and experiences. It helps marketers to improve their offerings. Users provide feedback of their experience on social media.
  9. Big data has become a reality. It provides rich insights. Dataanalytics extract these insights. The core of the agency is likely to shift from creativity to data.

Marketing : Changing Contours

Marketing so far focussed on one Big Idea. It exploited creativity associated with the right brain. These days, however, marketing is increasingly becoming data-driven. There is huge data about consumer behaviour, marketing channels, feedback, data from online apps and video streams, customer service etc. Marketing has to be analytical and this is associated with the left brain. This happens to be science.

There are 5000 plus mar-tech or marketing technology products to encourage marketers to embrace this change — shifiting from art to science. The science-based aspects include analytics, AI, automation, content marketing, data management, media optimization, sales automation or CRM tools etc. Mar-tech and ad-tech firms have to use these effectively.

At the time, creative ideas must be used in technical thinking. Instead of templates, we have to use imagination and inspiration.

The art of story telling must use the data with the story. There should be creative blending of data and story.  Data we seek not for its own sake, but for insights and inspiration. Data science and art folks must collaborate.

Just great brands are not enough. We have to build great brand experience. Marketing has to orchestrate the experience. Creative mad man must work with math-men. Marketing is an emotive science. It is no longer confined to right brain and left brain alone, but to the whole brain. It is a fusion of art and science.

A New Era of Advertising

Advertising has entered a new era which focuses on truth and real value. All crap will be cut off from the messages. We should bid good bye to superficial glitter and be real and relevant. While doing so we should continue to be entertaining and engaging.

It is time to allow the consumer behaviour to dictate our strategy. Earlier, the advertisers manufactured a world around the product and the needs of the consumers. In digital era, the focus is on making this world real. We will have to tell the truth about products. We have to do so in a more entertaining and interactive way.

Business in general has shifted from efficiencies and capabilities to connections. There are integrated softwares taking you from idea to implementation. Targeting has become complex. The second shift pertains to advertising objectives which formerly focused on awareness to sales. These days it goes beyond sales to advocacy akin to yesteryear’s word-of-mouth. The third shift is regarding the target group (TG). It has not remained an aggregate of demographic and psychographic traits. It has converted into communities of purpose. Consumers are identfied by what they do, say tennis players, where they are active and what content they consume.

What has remained constant is the need to establish relationship with the consumers. The opportunities to do so have now exploded.

The old day model of advertising which interrupts entertainment on TV by one-way pitch no longer works.It was pushy and buy-me approach.

People spend more time on social media. Traditional advertising suffered because it lacked segmenation or specific targeting. What way now are we to persuade the consumers?

Social media uses influencers. Then there is content marketing. Here you give content that is personally relevant. People consume messages that are useful, or will help solve a problem. The content should be non-invasive. In digital marketing, we should choose the right platform for the target audience. We have to create relevant content which is of high quality. We have to establish relationship with customers. We have to exploit mobile telephones. We have to test the campaign. We have to optimise the website. There should be creative elements. We must keep on learning and re-learning.

Digital Advertising Beyond Facebook and Google

Beyond the monopoly or duopoly of the Facebook and Google, there are opportunities to leverage an equally effective mobile advertising platform. It is less costly than these other media. Mobile advertising uses RTB system to price their inventory. Platforms used by them command an unnecessarily high price simply because there is more demand than supply. There are always online publishers who are hidden gems allowing advertising to reach the desired audiences.

The second reason is that story-telling can be more diversified with new media. Google and Facebook formats  are standardised. Advertisers can combine mobile and internet to create very effective campaigns. The targeting can be more layered. There is location data and interactivity.

Google and Facebook are likely to become generic — just like TV and billboard in the long run. There is an element of consumer fatigue also. There is a tendency to skip the ad videos.

OTT : AltBalaji

AltBalaji, the over the-top (OTT) video on demand platform has been launched by Ekta Kapoor in April, 2017. At the time of the launch, it featured five shows in Hindi and one in Tamil. Currently, there are 18 originals. Mukesh Ambani invested in Balaji Telefilms buying a stake of almost 25 percent in July, 2017. Their plan is to offer content that is neither cricket nor movies. It excludes these two popular genres. There are three buckets of content — Tenpole Properties with shows like Bose: Dead or Alive, digital shows with big TV stars like Ram Kapoor and Shakshi Tanwar in Karle Tu Bhi Mohabbat and classics like Devdas interpreted boldly. The shows are for the individual. They intend to give 150 hours of content in a year. They are waiting for their Kyunki moment for the OTT.


Making money in digital is going to take some time. The trditional media companies are not just competing with other media companies but also with telecom, digital, e-commerce and even taxi services. Media companies have the unique strength of consumer loyalty on the back of product (content). OTT’s success depends on how rapidly the consumption grows, which is a factor of cost and access to robust broadband and Wi-Fi. In near future, there will not be any impact on TV. Digital and TV collide on entertainment. Only sports have to be watched live. In entertainment, drama looks fresh even after 5 years. The freedom of digital does dent TV, but currently it is not reflected in numbers. TV is so cheap that digital still find it difficult to compete.

Total Readership and AIR

IRS has been released in January, 2017. It emphasises total readership which is usually three-to-four times more than the average issue readership (yesterday), which was the standard used by advertisers. It introduces three-day and seven-day readership metrics, separate metrics for the main paper and its variants. It cover almost 0.32 million Indians.

Average Issue Readership (AIR) is the standard metric buyers have used for decades. However, planning is more dynamic, and not everybody is reading a newspaper everyday. There is an option of looking at whether you read the paper yesterday, in the last three days, seven days or the last month. IRS gives different dimensions to data. The user can decide which one to use. AIR (yesterday) is accurate and relevant for what advertisers can expect to reach on any given day. The two — AIR and total readership — serve different purposes. AIR uses memory from day after reporting, while total readership does a month-long memorability. Total readership is an indication of the maximum reach of the publication, while AIR is a measure of regular readers. Advertiser puts money based on probability of a regular habit and hence expected view of the ad on any given day.