From how the advertising industry can tailor itself to the needs of start-ups to media planning in a fragmented digital world and unleashing creativity, there were lots of insights for delegates at Goafest2023 to absorb on day two of the festival.

There were also some googlies from off spinner Harbhajan Singh, who stuck his neck out betting on Mumbai Indians to lift the IPL this year, even as he said that it was time the Indian cricket team took some risks and included more youngsters in the playing eleven. He also displayed his singing talent belting out Damadam Mast Kalandar

Start-up spends

At a time when the start-up ecosystem is battling a funding winter, advertising spends have dried up, and profitability has taken centre stage, Rajan Anandan, MD, Sequoia Capital, India and SEA, countered the norm, saying he believed that in the next 12-18 months many growth-stage start-ups would turn profitable.

“We are seeing examples of improvement in profitability at a rapid pace. There are, of course, muted levels of ad spends currently. But the advertising community should expect that, by 2026, they will see a set of clients that are in a very strong foundational position,” Anandan said, much to the cheer of the ad fraternity in the audience, during his session on “The evolving economy and the future of startups”.

He also pointed to the rapid growth in e-commerce advertising.

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“In the next 7-8 years, e-commerce advertising is expected to touch the ₹70,000-crore mark. So it is important for the advertising community to see how they can be relevant to the advertising needs of start-ups and small businesses,” Anandan added. 

Digital spends

Madison World’s Founder, Chairman and MD Sam Balsara who held a masterclass on the theme “Media Planning in a Digital World” pointed out that large FMCG advertisers have ramped up spends on digital. Case in point being, Hindustan Unilever, which in its latest quarterly report stated that more than 25 per cent of its ad budget was spent on digital media. 

“Digital advertising in a way has considerably democratised entrepreneurship and business as it reaches smaller businessmen and even housewives,” said Balsara.

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He said how brands should plan to spend their ad budgets in a digitally dominated world is the million dollar question. Balsara said that digital advertising offers benefits to brands such as helping them in sharper demographics targeting (for instance reach an audience based on their parental status, life stage, home ownership), enable data-driven analytics, contextual messaging and harness the power of virality.

But Balsara also emphasised on its shortcomings that sellers and media planners must factor in such as digital being inefficient for a large audience as it is bought on a click-per-minute basis. But he stressed that large brands must incorporate digital in their media plans because of its unique capabilities and because time spent on TV is coming down.

Creativity and data

At a knowledge seminar on “Creative Effectiveness” powered by The Hindu Group, Ed Pank, Managing Director - WARC APAC, described how “creativity can dramatically impact the effectiveness of a campaign”. He said, “We need to concentrate on creativity for not only the brand but also everyday people. Creating an experience should have value for the end-users.”

He added that inclusive advertising can help brands create stronger bonds with customers while pointing to the latest Starbucks campaign in India. “Turn sound into a brand asset that can be deployed across multiple technologies and drive memorability,” Pank added.

Getting an old customer back is far cheaper than getting a new customer,” said Vipul Prakash, COO, of MakeMyTrip in a panel discussion on data driven marketing.

Harbhajan’s picks

Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh who spoke on The rise of Indian cricketers from the grassroots, strongly batted for more youngsters in the Indian 11. 

“I think the Indian cricket team should take more risks. It is time to include youngsters in the team. Opportunity in the team should be given when they are doing good. The team led by Hardik Pandey should be the leader, Suryakumar Yadav the vice captain and have Yashasvi Jaiswal, Akash Madhwal, and Rinku Singh. All of them will win games for India,” said Harbhajan Singh.

Harbhajan Singh speaks at Goafest 2023

 Reminiscing about the time when the Indian cricket team won the World Cup in 2011, Singh stated the moment was surreal, “Australia was a very big team who had earlier won. No one thought that we could win, and people thought it was a kids’ team. But that “kids’ team” showed how the game is played,” he said.