| Ambika Sharma, national head, Jagran Solutions
, is a senior professional with experience of over 13 years in the marketing and brand activation space. Winner of the Star Youth Achiever Award 2010, Sharma has been instrumental in making Jagran Solutions one of the leading activation agencies in the country, known for its integrated planning in brand activation and consumer connect strategies with new media solutions.
The attitudinal change in expecting more out of the brand activation canvas has long begun, is well on its way and would soon start to snowball. Start looking beyond the obvious, bringing in a more realistic integration of creativity and technology to deliver an enhanced ROI, is a call to action for the immediate future if not the present. Besides the existing choices within activation, there also exists, with increasing possibilities, an opportunity to integrate new media to enhance the response and ROI of activations.
The world is getting smaller and the market is getting bigger, yet this is not in a contradiction. The market is getting bigger which accounts for more numbers not just of the shoppers and viewers but more numbers to SMS, higher number of email users, customised software, more Indians than ever before accessing the net, social media becoming the rage and so on. This gives the brand activation planner a larger opportunity for reach as well as to build synergy and efficiency for activation.
With virtually unlimited options when planning an activation, we are limited only by our thought. The idea translates into an activation which has the definite option - to break or not to break clutter. This is a situation currently peculiar to the metros, wherein the audience is evolved and has a great deal of exposure to almost every type of activation. This has to a great extent led to a "was there done that, what is new" attitude which in turn reflects directly in the results of the best intended consumer experiences.
In the current times breaking the clutter has become a salient feature in almost every brief. Here, a splash of colour added by relevant technology or more importantly by the understanding of consumer behaviour and how that's used comes to the marketers rescue. It is the bible for the activation planner. Media in activation is truly dynamic.
A case in point of one such mix is that of a leading Internet browser, while India is the second largest Internet destination the largest chunk of consumers are accessing the net from public terminals which is an unorganised space mostly in groups of 4-8 PCs in small shops or residential units. Looking at this scenario, the challenge was to ensure trials and usage of the new upgraded product while keeping in mind that to use the product which is a software, the hardware of a PC along with Internet connectivity is mandatory. This would have a financial impact of $7-30 per trial / per consumer using the conventional method(s) of experience at a mall, market or similar location. The solution was brand activation at individual owned I-Cafes where the consumers were going specifically to access the net via existing infrastructure. The mammoth task of identifying over 1,500 such establishments began and each cafe was mapped and enrolled into the programme; the browser was installed as default on 7,235 public terminals,. Contests and branding too was integrated into the programme. The results spoke for themselves. The product was sampled to 8.1 million users during the campaign, positively impacting the share of the product in double digits. The campaign had a direct ROI of 115 customers per USD spent. Conventional activation plans would not only have been unable to estimate the result but in comparison would have been criminally expensive in this case.
With the ever increasing scope of innovations, technology and intelligent planning parameters, activation has graduated to a far more advanced medium of consumer connect. The upgrade for the activation does come at a price. However, when evaluated against the enhanced consumer experience as well as the larger brand impact, it more than levels itself out.
Contrary to popular belief, technology in many situations reduces the load on an activation, considerably reducing the dependence on manpower alone and thereby stretching the buck to cover larger markets. This is particularly true in the case of contests and sweepstakes. Gone are the days of carrying bags and bags of responses from PO boxes. An increasing number of contests are now activated online with a back-end management process via activation teams. However, considering the Internet penetration in the country, these are more or less limited to the top 20 cities.
What is the growing need for such a dramatic change in the approach? A subtle attitudinal and behavioural change is visible among today's consumers. The audience has become more tech savvy and their attention span has reduced considerably. The role of the activation agency has become all the more crucial in the wake of such an evolution, plugging in innovation, and / or technology to help break clutter and enhance ROI. This shift also significantly broadens technology's ability to interact with a customer, making the interaction more valuable for the brand and the experience more relevant for the consumer. It does not mean however that driving such effectiveness is easy but the results warrant that we not only make the effort but ensure the change and let the objective drive the activation plan rather than the other way around.
The possibilities are immense. Today, our world is connected through SMS, Bluetooth, e-mails, viral, livewire, podcasts, WAP, IVRS, networking sites, You Tube, DVR, and lot more. Consumers are reacting favourably to innovations and new mediums to enhance their brand experience. The key here is how we plan these innovations to bring about the desired outcomes and tie them into a measurable result against objectives? How can we add meat, spice and colour to the activation templates? The ingredients pre-define the outcome and make the dish more appealing to the refined palettes.
You may contact Ambika Sharma here: