Today, the consumer is not as affluent, is not an early adopter; the consumer now is predominantly mass consumer, and is coming in from smaller towns. They tend to be followers rather than early adopters. The language that they speak is not English and therefore the quality of comprehension of campaigns that we have put out has dramatically dropped.
That's exactly what happened on Orkut as well. As Orkut grew the consumer profile changed, from a more affluent, discerning, English-speaking, early-adopter consumer to a more regional kind of consumer, by people who tend to be followers, a more 'mass consumer' consumer. And the same thing is happening on Facebook today.
Given this whole 'massification' of social media, what you do with your campaigns then needs to change.
How have you adapted to this change?
That's a big challenge right now. Earlier, edgy campaigns were very well appreciated. Now, you suddenly have a lot of people calling you and cribbing about the campaigns you're putting up. This is simply because their sensibilities are more conservative compared to the original set of early-adopter consumers. We have to respond to these consumers. We have to be careful and make changes to our marketing plans and decisions. And we are finding out that we have to be very careful in terms of the decisions we take because they can easily change brand strategy.
We've covered a lot of ground. What's your one big social-media related challenge?
One of the challenges we face is to be able to create campaigns for social media. I don't think there are agencies out there that are good enough to marry traditional creative processes with this new-age media. Most traditional advertising agencies don't know how to think digital--they just simply adapt a print campaign or a TV campaign and use it on the digital media. That is the biggest challenge we face today: To find the people who know how the technology works, who know how social media and digital media work, and who then can think creatively within that. India has a huge dearth of such kind of talent.
Is there a danger of being Facebook dependant?
We had thought that Google+ would become the next Facebook, but that's not happening. I don't think Google+ has been able to gain much traction. Today, Facebook is still large but with the digital media something new can come up any day and take over.
That's something all marketers need to watch out for. They need to have their fingers in many multiple pies because you can never tell when Facebook might die and something else will rise. We have to constantly keep our ear to the ground to figure out what is happening and where it is happening.
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