12 October 2016 15:42:05 IST

The rise and rise of digital advertising

The ₹6,000-crore digital advertising space forms 13% of the ad market and is set to double in five years

Digital advertising, fast becoming mainstream in the US and the UK, is growing at a furious pace in India, albeit from a small base. With large swathes of the Indian population expected to go online over the next few years, digital advertising is projected to be a platform to reckon with in the near future.

The Indian market for digital advertising was worth ₹60 billion (₹6,000 crore) in 2015, according to the KPMG-FICCI Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report . And while this represented 13 per cent of the overall Indian advertising market in 2015, that share is expected to double to 26 per cent by 2020.

With most of us spending an increasing proportion of our time on the internet, we find ourselves inundated by online ads. According to Nimesh Shah, Head Maven, Director and Co-Founder, Windchimes Communications, social media advertising — ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter — are the flavour of the moment. In fact, social networking sites not only give advertisers great visibility but also help them closely track the effectiveness of their ad campaigns by giving them access to their ad dashboards.

Better targeting

Nikita Prakash, Associate Account Director, BC Web Wise, adds: “The beauty of these platforms is that, unlike traditional advertisements, they let you target ads based on certain parameters such as demographics and gender.”

But digital advertising goes beyond this and comes in many innovative forms — display advertising, search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, affiliate marketing and mobile in-app advertising.

Catching attention

Among the most commonly used are display ads, which essentially involve a combination of text, audio and video elements to catch the target customers’ attention on relevant websites. The Google Display Network (GDN) is one such popular platform that allows advertisers to place ads on a range of websites that Google has tied up with.

“For instance, if you are a sports retailer, then you can have your ad displayed on sports-related websites. GDN has a huge catalogue to choose from,” says Nikita.

Have you noticed that, every time you run a Google search, the first few results that pop up are advertisements? This is what is called search engine marketing, yet another form of online advertising. So, if you want your brand to be displayed in the top search results so that people looking for a particular product are led to your website, then you opt for this kind of advertising, explains Nikita.

Apart from that, those wanting to drive more traffic to their website also go for search engine optimisation (SEO). This involves the use of certain keywords on your website to improve visibility. And how does one find out these keywords? Tools such as Google Keyword Planner can help you find the most common keywords used for searches related to different categories of products or services. Once you know these words, you can use them liberally on your website so that they pop up in search results more often.

Another common form of online advertising that you must have surely experienced is re-marketing or re-targeting. Have you noticed that products that you viewed or shortlisted on an e-commerce website but finally did not buy continue to pop up even after you leave the website? What you are experiencing is re-marketing or re-targeting.

"What an advertiser is trying to do is show the product to you again, hoping that you might just click on it and buy it this time. This has a higher probability of conversion,” says Nimesh.

Making the right choice

When it comes to digital advertising, there’s no dearth of ways to grab people’s attention. So, how do advertisers make a choice? While there are no hard and fast rules here, Nimesh explains with an example.

Suppose you have a visual product and you are promoting a travel destination, you may choose to adopt a visual medium. You would tend to use the Google Display Network or Facebook, where you can place ads that have a story-based narrative. On the other hand, if people are searching for, say, a service provider on the internet, then you may use textual ads. A pictorial depiction will not be required here. The best part is that someone is searching for something on Google and so half the job is done. Their probability of clicking on a text ad is much higher here.

The potential for the digital advertising market in India is clearly vast. With growth that is underpinned by the growing adoption of smartphones and new technological innovations, this market — the country’s fastest growing advertising segment — is expected to sustain its meteoric rise over the next several years.