Every time I start discussing digital campaigns with some brand managers, they instantly sound pessimistic. This is on account of the fact that the digital bar keeps being raised at regular intervals.

Some of them are also quite sceptical about the changing dynamics of digital advertising and question the efficacy of such campaigns in general. Apart from a lot of unanswered questions regarding the accuracy of ad measurements, some are still clueless on how to create sustainable campaigns. But this in no way has affected the rapid growth in digital ads.

The changing media consumption behaviour patterns of digital consumers has led to huge disruptions in the basic advertising model. Digital advertising is growing at almost double the rate of traditional and projected to grow even higher. And this led to the need to build engagement on an ongoing basis with the consumer, if brands want to have a sustained presence in the changing landscape.

In the digital sphere, we see that mobile has taken over as the preferred device. When this becomes the case, we see a noticeable shift from digital environments that were browser-based to ones that are based on apps. This is in addition to the numerous platforms that stream entertainment, provide shopping solutions, as well as social media platforms.

The consumer is spoilt for choice and this in turn is leading to a clutter, and thus the need to retain consumer interest through any means. The way to overcome this is to have content that is engaging.

It is an undisputed fact that simply dispersing content will not have any lasting value. In certain social media channels, it has been noticed that organic reach has come down quite significantly. There is an inherent need to make people interact with the content that gets posted. Simply browsing will not lead to relationship building and that’s where meaningful engagement comes in.

When engagement happens, it leads to brand loyalty. It also leads to sharing of content that in turn generates a positive snowballing effect through advocacy by a satisfied consumer.

Consumers are looking for authentic engagement. This will happen only when brand managers have a clear understanding of their audience. Understanding the audience does not stop with analysing their behaviour.

It also extends to understanding where they are digitally based, which means understanding the digital media landscape where they are most active as well as their communication preferences. Targeting and segmentation should be taken to the next level based on the insights derived from understanding the mined data.

This alone will help to create engaging content. Efficient and continuous engagement is the need of the hour, especially when we understand that consumers have not only become desensitised but also de-engaged to direct advertising. Besides promoting the product, content should provide insight and information along with entertainment to retain interest.

This has led to what we now believe is story-led marketing and leading to immersive experience. Experiences that result in brand differentiation and trust.

To make things complicated, we now see lots of platforms that thrive in an ad-free environment. Consumers also have become more conscious as well as cautious, especially with regard to privacy issues.

They look for digital environments where the level of privacy is relatively higher. These are challenges that content creators need to address and find ways to overcome. Gone are the days when we did campaigns that directed consumers to the website of our choice.

It is imperative to remember that consumers are now more interested in experiences than the end product. Experiences that brands create through engagement will increasingly help to create the difference in a highly competitive marketplace.

— Sunil Roy is with the ad agency Publilink.