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The challenges of building brand trust in a trust-deficit India

Today, everybody is spending more than half of their screen time on platforms that are UGC-oriented, including social media, casual content-oriented platforms and all such platforms over-indexed on borderline content. Thus, the need for brand safety, as content is uploaded from any source or from some fake sources. How can brands navigate such a scenario? This formed the basis of discussions of the session on ‘Brand Safety on Mobile Platform’ at MOBEXX 2019. 

The panel was moderate by Rajeev Dhal, Chief Revenue Officer – APAC & EMEA, SHAREit, and panellists incuded:

Anand Chakravarthy, Managing Director - India, Essence

Anuj Kumar, Co-founder, Chief Revenue & Operating Officer, Affle

Dhiraj Gupta, Co-founder & CTO, mFilterIt

Raman Kalra, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Shubham Jha, Head of Sales - India, Adjust 

Marketers’ perspective

Raman Kalra: Marketers recognise the importance of brand safety. Almost all of them will say that at some point in time they had been stumped by some incident that impacted brand safety. A consumer insight survey that PwC had done found out that 35 per cent of the respondents had called out ‘Trust’ in brand. Trust in brand is a wider term that goes beyond brand safety. In a digital world, the impact of brand safety is even higher.

Anand Chakravarthy: The reality is that globally, consumers’ trust in brands is diminishing. Thus, consumers are less likely to recommend a brand. Generically, irrespective of advertising consumers are not trusting brands. Most marketers, advertisers and people in agencies know how important recommendation is in actually helping generate the next sale, but the fact is that most are ignoring brand safety.

Is brand safety being compromised?

Dhiraj Gupta: It is definitely a big issue for brands and advertisers. I think there is a lot of awareness about it and people are talking about it in multiple forums like this. But I think the focus of performance marketers towards brand safety is not there at all.

The ad fraud perspective

Anuj Kumar: There is boarder line difference between what is brand safety and what is ad fraud. Ad fraud happens where the ad itself is possibly not seen and somebody has actually claimed the credit for that – whether it was an app install or a purchase or other transaction. 

Legacy brands like Coca-Cola have built up the trust over several decades, however, today digital first companies have to be built in a very short period of time as there is increasing pressure from investors to scale up the business in line with the commitments of the founders. Companies are actually made or unmade in a span of quarters and not years. 

I think in a way it is all linked –the pressure of scaling up faster and building up businesses and brands in just a matter of months and quarters poses a challenge to brands safety. There needs to be an awakening in the companies to invest in brand safety and building safeguards from ad fraud. 

What companies can do 

Anuj Kumar: I don’t think there is lack of tools and technology and I am sure they will keep evolving if they get more customers. The value of the customer which they are deriving is actually far greater, which is what they should measure and not really the short term goals.

Anand Chakravarthy: We should at least have some control and guidelines over where that money is going. I think you have to take some destructive steps if you want to break a chain of behaviour which has continued for far too long.

Are brands moving in the right direction?

Shubham Jha: Brands are taking steps in the right direction. But on the performance side when we talk about app marketing, there is so much pressure in terms of achieving the targets that whatever brand safety we are talking about boils down to performance. Hence, that is a major problem. 

Rajeev Dhal: It is well established that brand safety is a concern that everyone is aware of. Solutions do exist, but there needs to be a willingness to accept. India has a trust deficit, which needs to be worked upon.


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