2017 in Review: Native ads – the new standard in digital advertising: Neena Dasgupta

Neena Dasgupta, CEO & Director at Zirca Digital Solutions, analyses the major game-changing developments in the Digital sector during 2017 and their impact in the coming year. 

Some of the biggest developments in 2017 in the Indian digital sector are: 

Reliance Jio has now reached 131 million Indians. The rise of Jio in the country has led to more Internet penetration and more consumers joining the digital ecosystem, leading to more options for advertisers. 

YouTube’s and Facebook’s ad woes: Some of the world’s biggest brands began pulling their ads from YouTube after new stories revealed that these ads were running alongside videos of children that were clearly exploitative or innocent, and alongside videos promoting hate and terrorism. Advertisers are now looking at digital with a fine-tooth comb. 

TV is no longer No. 1 in global ad spends. Digital ad spends surpassed those of TV for the first time, and they are expected to be $203 billion as opposed to $191 billion for TV. (Source: Zenith report

Cutting-edge technologies such as AR, VR, AI and machine learning are revolutionising digital advertising in more ways than one. Consumers today are looking for more immersive advertising experiences. Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, one of the biggest ways we’ll see digital advertising being revolutionised is through the AR capabilities of our phones. IKEA’s ARKit app is an example of how this convergence will fundamentally change the interaction among brands, consumers and media platforms. 

The impact 

Digital has definitely grown up, which means there’s a need for more responsibility and greater accountability. We also need to have more robust metrics/ measurements in place to know how our advertising worked. 

Newer technologies like AI are increasingly being used for content generation, bots, messengers, image recognition, sales forecasting, media planning, customer segmentation, language recognition, ad targeting, etc. Advertising solutions will become more effective, leading to better targeting and boosting ROI. 

We also need to crack multi-touch attribution dilemma. Today, with growth in delivery formats for brand communications, the challenge is to ensure that all formats/ mediums/ platforms get their dues from advertisers. In fact, last click attribution gives a flawed picture leading to inefficient media spends. 

More than 80 per cent growth in digital ad spends will come from video and mobile as per FICCI’s study How OTT platforms can remain ‘on-demand’ ready; mobile ad spending in India is expected to increase by 85 per cent according to eMarketer estimates. In fact, it will be a major contributor to the growth of digital advertising in the years to come as marketers embrace this channel to reach a new generation of young and digitally-savvy consumers. 

With the rise of Jio, more consumers have entered the digital fold; which means the face of digital India is changing rapidly. Consumer behaviour and spending patterns are shifting as incomes rise and Indian society evolves. These shifts will have big implications for how brands position themselves. Currently, we have between 200 million and 300 million internet users in India, according to various estimates. A majority of the current internet users are educated and resemble global consumers. The next 500 million to 800 million users who are rapidly coming into the fold are behaviourally and psychographically very distinct. This phenomenon will give rise to newer challenges for advertisers in terms of creative and communication cues. 

2017 – annus horribilis or annus mirabilis? 

It’s been a wonderful year for the Indian digital industry. While consumers have become savvier about how they consume content, advertisers and publishers are looking at new communication formats and ad formats to ensure higher audience engagement with their content. This is fuelling the rise of native advertising. In fact, global native advertising spends are set to double in the next few years – increasing from $30.9 billion in 2015 to $59.35 billion in 2018 – as per the Native Advertising Institute. Native ads have become the new standard in digital advertising. 

Zirca’s proprietary native platform, ContentdB’s genesis has been fuelled by our strong belief that efficiency is an essential element in running your native ad campaigns. ContentdB is an evolution in content distribution technology. The platform will help in eliminating one of the biggest pain points of advertisers: wasteful advertising expenditure. It reduces time spent on managing campaigns across multiple platforms, thus allowing marketers more time for analysis and interpretation of data. It will create a repository of consumer content preferences in the form of intelligent data, guiding future marketing spends.


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