At the end of 2020, India saw over 734 mn users come online: Amal Thomas Roy

We saw the pandemic accelerate the digital transition process of businesses last year. A year later, the implications of this transition have been significant and wide-ranging – from creating consumer experiences & engagements, to e-commerce, online education, e-payments, online medical consultations – almost all off-line activity is now done in the digital space. 

Digital spends have gone up manifold, and brand strategies now incorporate reaching out to consumers in the online space. With this, there has also been the need for upskilling the workforce to tackle the business operational requirements in the new normal. 

In conversation with Adgully, Amal Thomas Roy, Head of Client Solutions, InMobi, provides some insights into the growth in the gaming sector, short form video and e-commerce, further accelerated by the global pandemic, and much more. 

With the accelerated transition to digital due to the pandemic crisis, how has this helped businesses scale up their operations? How do you see this shift to digital panning out over the next 5 years?

At the end of 2020, India saw over 734 million users come online. This has been made possible by access to affordable smartphones, the cheapest network data tariffs globally, and improving mobile internet speeds. COVID-19 dramatically reshaped life as we know it, yet it is critical to remember several of these changes were simmering undercurrents over the last few years, but have finally catapulted on to the main stage due to the pandemic.

Regardless of age and gender, Indians have taken to gaming with great gusto, with India now accounting for 1 out of 10 gamers in the world. Short form video continues to rage on in popularity, recording nearly an hour spent per user on average. E-commerce, on the other hand, has become an essential service with a 20% increase in number of first-time shoppers.

I believe that this has turned into truly lasting behaviour. We are working with our partners to enable them as they ride this wave, by creating memorable experiences that help them drive real connections with their users in a variety of ways – be it through display, video or even rich experiences such as gamified ads or augmented reality. 

Digital and performance go hand in hand. How are brands evaluating and measuring their performance on digital as a medium?

From a marketing perspective, the pandemic has resulted in marketers closely evaluating the outcome of each of their efforts, and as a result, packing in as much performance as they can into every rupee they are spending. At our end, this has meant a lot of interest in mobile’s ability to combine media & commerce - whether it’s online or offline.

We work with advertisers across the board to ensure transparency in each of their efforts. While typical measures such as viewability, click through rates, and invalid traffic removal have become table stakes for advertisers today, we are also seeing marketers take a far more nuanced approach in the past year. Something we’ve been very excited about is using the power of mobile to drive both in-store and online conversions, resulting in tangible action taken by consumers. This has been a game changer in many ways, and we are able to achieve this for advertisers through a combination of creating unique shoppable experiences, footfall attribution and partnerships with commerce players.

Additionally we also support our partners by enabling them to run deterministic Brand Lift Study (BLS) that are executed programmatically to understand the true impact of their campaigns. 

Talent has always been a challenge when something new disrupts the media world. How are digital companies scaling their knowledge and imparting training to people?

As leaders in Digital Advertising and front runners in programmatic tech, one of the key goals that we aim for is empowering our in-house specialists and our partners to stay updated on the latest changes and developments in the industry. We have dedicated partner programs and internal training sessions to continuously inform and educate our people and our partners – a lot of this is virtual now and this has accelerated the scale at which we can organise meaningful events and sessions for large groups of people. 

What kind of investments digital companies need to plan to face the future challenges both in terms of skill and technology?

Given the way market disruption is speeding up the change of a decade’s worth behavior in a matter of months, one of the key pillars that has emerged is Mobile Marketing Maturity. In order to move from being a brand with nascent digital marketing maturity to one that is truly a multi-moment focused brand, we believe advertisers should invest in the following strategies to make true impact:

  1. Build the right omni-channel customer experience
  2. Access real-time consumer insights
  3. Leverage automation across channels and
  4. Build skilled human capital

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