“Video advertising is one of the biggest things to watch out for”



Lavin Punjabi – President, Affinity, in an exclusive interview to Thinking Aloud, talks about the evolution of digital advertising and more specifically, why video will be the biggest medium to watch out for. 

TA: The #mobile #advertising sector is skyrocketing. Especially, video advertising is growing at a rapid pace. What innovations will run the industry in 2016?

LP: Everything mobile is skyrocketing right now, advertising is just a part of it. It’s a rising tide. Within advertising itself, of course video advertising is one of the biggest things to watch out for. Its passive form along with storytelling is what has worked for it on TV, and it will continue that ride in digital in a richer way. #Innovative ad formats will continue to bloom as ad tech companies start understanding the mobile user better – what connects, what is boring, how to #engage, how to tell a fun #story, amongst many others. And this will occur across the landscape of publishing companies and social platforms (twitter, instagram, pintrest, snapchat, etc). And of course, Facebook’s and Google’s advertising innovations will continue to grow.

TA: Still mobile advertising sector is terra incognito (#mobileunexplored) for many brands. How should the brands plan to tap the potential effectively?

LP: It’s a land of opportunity. Brands will continue to evolve as per modern day lifestyles and habits of their consumers. Today, almost half of the time spent on media consumption comes from mobile, 45% to be precise. That’s where the audiences are. And the budgets there are 2% of total media spends. To tap into the growing mobile advertising sector, brands have to do 2 things – 1. Break out mobile advertising into a dedicated team. It’s a medium worthy of its own line item (#ineedspace). Stop considering it a subset of Digital. Why? Because mobile is much richer than your conventional desktop advertising. It’s new. It’s fresh and it’s powerful. (#imsexy) 2. Engage with your agencies and go beyond basic metrics like CTR and Sales (#smellthecoffee). Look for #effectiveness of each mobile media option independently, and pick the one that works for your brand category.

TA: Can you quickly elaborate on the understanding of the complexities of the mobile advertising ecosystem?
That’s a subject that requires more than just a paragraph. But the one I would like to highlight is the #creative. In mobile, you can’t simply take your offline and desktop ads and slap them on mobile. As I said earlier, it’s a medium richer than TV – the mobile is a TV, camera, torch, map, your personal concierge of sorts all rolled up into a device that goes with you everywhere. When you stitch all these elements into your #messaging, you’re emotionally connecting (#iheartyou) with the consumer. And that’s golden.

TA: How big a role will #cross-channel personalization play in the further growth of the mobile advertising industry?

LP: Winning over today’s digital savvy customer is an uphill battle. With the increasing number of mediums and channels trying to get attention with marketing riffraff, users are getting frustrated. They don’t want to be treated like statistics; they want a personal touch. As users jump from one device to another, brands need to be careful not to repeat their content. Brands also need to identify what users like and dislike and then personalize content to appeal to each individual – yes you read that right – each individual. This layer of ad-tech will be built into most ad servers eventually. It will become a default requirement on mobile in about two years. So I see it as playing an important role in the growth of mobile advertising.

TA: How is Affinity’s M-Canvas different than the other mobile ad products out there? Kindly shed some light on the uniqueness of the platform!

LP: It’s a first of its kind storytelling platform for brands on mobile. It includes #kick-ass creative production, #accuratetargeting, serving it up in respectable #user-friendly way on original content sites (#contentisking), and driving user #attention. It’s unlike anything you have seen so far on mobile. It’s a #unique ad format, with a unique pricing model and a unique outlook (#ismellthecoffeenow) to mobile advertising.

It solves four core problems on mobile advertising – (1) Poor ad viewability (2) Banner blindness (3) Accidental clicks and most importantly (4) Storytelling.

Using a myriad of smartphone’s sensors and features, M-canvas creates emotional connects with the digital consumer. This helps the brand tell an engaging story that increases brand awareness and recall. Imagine a coffee brand allowing a user to vigorously shake the phone to froth up a coffee on the mobile creative. Now that’s powerful and memorable.

TA: Apart from tracking and real time optimization, what are the other techniques that can result in gaining a better ROI?

LP: Let’s define ROI in this case as effectiveness, beyond just numbers. Mobile is a medium that can create a more personal emotional connect than TV (#excuseme). Every new medium requires its own standard metrics to measure its effectiveness. You will need to look at more than just CTR – time spent, engagement, brand lift and more.

TA: Finally, what benchmarks did Affinity set in the year 2015? Can you share some facts and figures about the same? And the plans going forward?

LP: M-Canvas has told stories for 103 brands on over 60 content partnerships. We’ve driven between 4 to 8% intentional engagement rates (#whatdidyousay) with our ads and had the users attention for 18-27 secs (#timespent). The plans going forward involve growing this exponentially, adding more technology and continue evolving as the mobile landscape evolves.


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“Thinking Aloud” reflects the emerging trends and varied outlook of the rapidly evolving internet and communication sector. An IAMAI publication, this is a part of the market education initiative of the association.

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