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@NDTV NMC: Mainstream Digital Media; Display Beats Search Advertising?

Mainstream Digital Media? A term for us to consider – when asked about Motorola’s (NYSE: MOT) position on spends on regional language content, Lloyd Mathias, Marketing Director for India & South West Asia said that the company doesn’t have a position on regional digital media- “We target mainstream digital media”.

Display vs Search advertising: “We found display marketing works better than search – 2.5 times more than search, and I can contest that.” Manish Vij, Chief Business Officer of the Smile Interactive Group put forth a fairly strong challenge to search marketing; makes me wonder if there has been a significant shift in spends from display to search marketing. Vij said that when agencies started in the interactive medium, they undersold it by selling by Cost Per Lead. That’s a vicious circle, because the day you stop spending money, the leads stop. “So don’t put 100 percent of your money in just acquising leads”. He also mentioned that people use search better than display advertising because analytics are not used well enough in display.

Publisher Issues: Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO of IndiaMART raised a key issue during the discussion, something we’ve mentioned before at ContentSutra: that every site is priced the same – Rs. 100 cpm; there’s no distinction between publishers, between social networks and websites. Also, where’s the quality of inventory on the Internet? Responding, Vij mentioned that it’s advisable not to have more than two banners on a single page – the ad gets served, but its not quality inventory. Ravi Kiran, CEO of Starcom (South East & South Asia) mentioned that this issue is valid for all kinds of media – what is high value for one brand isn’t for another. Anurag Batra, MD and Editor-in-Chief of Exchange4media, moderating the panel said they don’t sell CPM on exchange4media, but on the basis of the brand strength.

Some Numbers: Rohit Sharma, COO of Zapak mentioned that 70 million unique visitors have logged on to Zapak since launch; 38 brands advertised on the gaming site last year. Another interesting tidbit: someone from Times Business Solutions mentioned that 80 percent of marketing spends are online.

Still New Media? That’s the question Ravi Kiran asked – how come we’re discussing the same things we were four years ago? How come new media is still new media after 8 years? Dividing the world into digital, non-digital, new, old, online, offline…it’s pointless. The digital-non-digital mindset should have died with the first dotcom bust. Today, we are all doing digital things – sending email, on facebook, on twitter…yet, when we go into the office and have to make buying decisions, we think differently.

Selling Digital Media: Anurag Batra was of the opinion that we aren’t seeing sufficient innovation around advertising in digital media because most sales execs come from a background of print, where innovation was less. Some of the questions put forward as the moderator of this session – on the adoption of ad networks, what went wrong with social media in India, reputation management on the Web and why blogging hasn’t picked up in India remained unanswered.

P.s.: Great to have conferences without company pitches on panels (apart from the Polycon bit), and a conference with a strong editorial driven discussion…it certainly wasn’t one of those “been there, heard that” events. More of these, please…And before I forget – we were also updating live on Twitter – me from the New Media Congress in Delhi, and Cerius from an apparently drab Web Innovation Summit in Mumbai. Here’s ContentSutra on Twitter.

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