He Answers
R.P. Singh
Business Director, Maxus
Ravinder Pal Singh, popularly known as "RP", is currently heading Maxus Digital – North in GroupM Media. RP is a digital marketing specialist with around 9 years of digital & new media experience. He has spent about a year in GroupM China, the largest online market in the world and has been instrumental in building digital media teams in GroupM offices in New Delhi & Shanghai, a part of WPP network. He is also associated with International Digital Marketing Institute as Guest Faculty. RP is an active blogger and digital evangelist and often lectures on digital media.
His Questions
Gopa Kumar
Media Director, ISOBAR India (Aegis Media)
Gopa heads the Delhi branch and is responsible for Digital Media (Strategy, Planning and Buying) across Isobar India. He has an overall experience of 8 years in Advertising and Marketing Communication of which 6 years were spent in digital media. An avid tech enthusiast, who follows new technologies and trends passionately, would love to see digital take the role of a lead medium / solution for building brands and not be seen as a media choice to drive leads only. Earlier, Gopa was associated with MEC Interaction.
Gopa Kumar: Over the last one or 2 years, I have been seeing the conversation shift from "when is digital going to get a seat at the big kid's table?" to something more robust, like, "how do we go about integrating digital? Do you share the same POV ? How do we keep all of the people at the table talking with each other in a productive fashion? And, how would you characterize the maturation of digital advertising over the last two or three years?
R.P. Singh: There are 2 schools of thought, one belongs to agencies who are looking at expanding Digital’s pie in overall Marketing Communications spends, and another one belongs to Marketers who are always looking to integrate any new medium in their marketing mix. This shift is a result of deeper and healthier conversations which have started to take place over last 1-2 years, ever since marketers felt that they cannot skip Digital media. I still remember times when Marketers used to tell me “we have some money left from our annual marketing budget, let’s do something on Web” which is changing rapidly to something like “Let’s have a Digital Media Strategy in place”. To get people to talk with each other is a herculean task and I feel education & evangelization is the only way to go about it. Clients can be a significant catalyst in driving this agenda and they need to lead it from front. I have seen some clients thinking about ideas prior to the media choice which is a positive sign for Digital. Clients have to be media agnostic when it comes to “campaign idea” because consumers are becoming media agnostic.
Gopa Kumar: As far as I see there is a very thin line in digital space between creative digital agency to specialist media agencies and increasingly seeing the line blurring, How do you see the space shaping up as you have been part of both the type of agencies in your career?
R.P. Singh: I completely agree with you that there is a very thin line, however they answer different questions for the marketer, “What” & “Where” when it comes to consumer understanding. To me, they are different but yet very related areas of expertise. If we see the history of what traditional creative agencies have done, they have separated the media function from their responsibilities and now we have two distinct entities catering to Creative & Media functions. We may witness this trend coming back as we go into future. Marketers have also started to feel this and now they want Digital agencies who can handle Creative development along with Media planning. We are seeing this taking shape as lot of creative agencies have started media wings and vice versa.
Gopa Kumar: Do you think Mobile advertising is overhyped or you feel it works and can or is becoming important component in overall digital mix? How do you use Mobile as a medium for your clients and has there been a shift in the % of monies being allocated to Mobile as a medium
R.P. Singh: I would say it is an under-utilized & mis-used medium in its current state. Whenever we say “Mobile Marketing”, people think of Junk SMS while there is a lot more which this medium can offer. The marketers & agencies must understand the role which Mobile plays in overall Media mix. It should be used as response enabler and a step further to interact with consumers. Agencies recommending mobile as a medium should also understand the role it plays in brand’s life. Today mobile is challenging TV in its reach numbers therefore one cannot ignore the power of this medium. For majority of Indian population, it has already become the “first screen”, and whatever was possible only TV a few months back, can now be done on Mobile. How to use mobile is more important question to answer rather “to use or not”. Given its benefits, we have seen a significant shift in budgets being allocated to mobile as a medium.
Gopa Kumar: What’s your view on the kind of work happening in digital space in India? What should Indian Digital agencies do to strike gold in CyberLions at Cannes. None of the great works which get awarded in the award shows locally (in India) does get acknowledged or shortlisted there
R.P. Singh: Indian digital industry lacks sophisticated tools, analytics softwares, robust media monitoring mechanisms because of which we still remain a developing nation in the eyes of globe. Only a handful of agencies have access to ComScore & similar tools, which leaves room for intuition based media planning. There is good amount of outstanding work which is being done in India but due to the lack of sophistication, we are unable to break ice with globe. Technologically also, we are way behind in executing some innovative stuff specially when it involves Video & rich media due to connection speed. Having said this, the situation is changing fast. We have made some significant dent in APAC market in last couple of years, with lot of Indian digital campaigns winning accolades at APAC level.
Gopa Kumar: Social media is fast emerging (if not already emerged) as the favorite media choice for marketers, your view on how social media is being used currently and how brands can leverage this space for their benefit, also in addition do you think current set of digital (read media) agencies are equipped to handle Social media assignments ?
R.P. Singh: Yes, it is emerging so rapidly that today some marketers have “over-understood” it  I have come across certain situations where clients have zero digital media presence but still want to do “something” on Social media, and they end up creating a FB page which according to them qualifies for their “Social Media Presence”. I personally feel that there are a very few agencies who know how it works. Traditional digital media agencies, or rather most of them, have outsources this function to specialized agencies as this is proving to be another sub-area of specialization. But the fact remains that nobody understands Social Media completely which brings me back to the same statement I made earlier that we need to be constant students. We have examples in front of us of how some marketers have made good use of Social Media viz. Fast Track, Axe etc.
I think if brands & marketers understand one important thing about social media, they will be far more effective in delivering “return on emotions” to their fans and that is “Fans do not share something with their friends because they love the brand, they share it because they love their friends”.
Gopa Kumar: Do you think lack of an organized industry body which other mediums have has hampered the growth of Digital in India? What do you think is biggest roadblock apart from the infrastructure concerns like broadband penetration etc and also do you think there is a way out and accelerate the growth of this medium?
R.P. Singh: I cannot agree more. We definitely need more & working bodies who can drive this agenda and create a lobby with Govt officials to table at least some basic concerns like connectivity etc. We need these bodies to play an active& constant role in developing digital ecosystem of the country. During my stint in China, I have seen how their infrastructure has grown along with penetration numbers. The maximum number of users access internet from home in China which is totally opposite to that of ours.
There is a need to start education at very basic levels. For instance, we don’t have Digital media as part of curriculum in most of the leading media institutes. We don’t have advisory boards which can guide candidates who want to enter this domain as their career path.
Apart from this, Marketers need to upscale their investment on Digital Media in line with changing consumer trends. Today the total digital media spends is not more 3-4% in this country which to my mind is significantly low to make a case for any improvement required. We are asking our clients to take a leadership role as this medium is here to stay for long. Today 10% of marketers contribute 90% to total digital advertising spends which need to change, and we are all responsible for taking it to the next level.
Gopa Kumar: Your thoughts on performance metrics & performance benchmarks of Online media here in India?
R.P. Singh: This is my favorite topic as I am often asked this question of performance benchmarking. The benchmarks in this medium are never the same and we need to appreciate that fact as Media professionals. The field of online (or digital) media planning evolves so quickly that if you simply rely on your past experience as a means to deliver future performance, you're going to be left in the dust. We need to be constant students all the time and we should try to keep a track of these ever changing benchmarks. An even more important question to answer is "What should be the performance metrics for Digital Media?" I often get publishers & clients hovering between Clicks & CTRs as one and only metric to evaluate the performance. The responsibility lies with agencies to educate the marketers about real KPIs from digital media and making your own category benchmarks on those KPIs. We have seen agencies in the past selling digital media on purely performance metrics like CPC, CPL and even CPAs, and now those agencies are finding it hard to survive as they lacked consumer understanding and hence the true metrics of evaluating media performance. An effort should be made to include parameters like CPUU, CPUI, CPV, Lifetime Value, Increase in Search Queries and some softer metrics like increase in brand favorability, brand consideration etc which today, are possible to measure. It is also a good thing to witness some institutes like IDMI & Imperia trying to impart Digital education in this country, to improve the digital ecosystem of this country.
In conversation with

Vineet Mathur

Anita Nayyar

Rahul Marwaha

Shruti Kapoor

R.P. Singh

Gopa Kumar

Sandeep Singh

Rajiv Dubey

Yuzdi Badhniwalla

Nilesh Chhabria

Vishal Chinchankar

Shantanu Sirohi

Unny Radhakrishnan

Sudhir MD

Madan Sanglikar

Uma Sivakumar

Beerajaah Sswain

Raja Sanyal

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