Madison World’s Milan Modi Speaks: Crafting Success in Digital Advertising
Milan Modi, a Business Director (Digital) at Madison World is a seasoned professional with over 8 years of expertise in Paid Digital Media. He has garnered accolades as India’s Best Marketers & Planners and “Young Guns Advertising Male.”
With a track record of 72+ awards for groundbreaking campaigns, including Pidilite, Raymond, and McDonald’s, Milan is a visionary in leveraging Metaverse, NFTs, and AR filters. In this interview, he shares strategic insights into the evolving digital landscape, audience targeting post-cookie era, and innovative approaches to digital advertising. His journey exemplifies a commitment to excellence, making him a dynamic force in the advertising and media industry.
Can you take us through your professional journey and share some of the memorable moments you encountered in your decade-long tenure in the advertising industry?
First of all thank you very much for gracing me with this occasion, thanks for allowing me to be a part of this noble program where you share the experience of some of the finest minds in the country, so others can benefit from it.
I come from a local Mumbai background and was fortunate enough to complete my formal education in this same city. Numbers have always excited me, and I’ve been surrounded by them throughout my journey. Whether it was my first internship at HSBC Bank or my initial professional experiences at Fractal AI, Publicis Group, and Madison World, I’ve consistently been in fields where numbers are paramount. While the early years were dominated by the left brain, the integration of creative and media has now engaged my right brain as well.
Reflecting on some memorable moments in my career, I’d like to highlight my first major digital marketing campaign for the largest bank in India, HDFC Bank. We achieved tremendous success in terms of media branding and performance metrics, earning numerous case studies and awards. It marked the significant announcement of their Personal Loan Campaign.
You oversee branding and performance marketing responsibilities for various well-known brands across several verticals. How different or similar are the strategies that you formulate for them?
In both performance and brand marketing, our unwavering focus is on “Consumer First.” The ongoing battle between push and pull strategies remains a constant consideration. In our approach to brand marketing, we go beyond mere media attention, ensuring that our messages are not only contextual but also deeply relevant to the end consumer. The era of one-size-fits-all is long gone, with marketers now actively tailoring communication to meet the unique needs of each consumer—something every marketer, being a consumer themselves, can relate to. In our efforts, we consistently adhere to the fundamental principles of reach, frequency, continuity, impact, and weeks on air.
Performance marketing has undergone a significant transformation. While Google Search stands out as a primary choice for every marketer, we strategically engage with consumers on other intent-based platforms before transitioning. Techniques such as lead nurturing, lead scoring, UI/UX optimization, post-click experience enhancement, and regular follow-ups, though seemingly basic, play a pivotal role in achieving the ultimate conversion. To excel in the performance game, we also prioritize regional creative, landing page quality, and a well-established call center setup, ensuring a seamless and exceptional consumer experience.
With so many ad content options such as text, images, and audio available to advertisers, what according to you is the most effective in translating the message to audiences? What are some of the techniques you use to track campaign performance at Madison World?
With user touchpoints increasing daily, and every app on smartphones or any available wall serving as an ad unit, it’s crucial to track each touchpoint. One fundamental truth that has consistently worked for us, and that we strongly believe in, is the power of customization. Whether it’s a video, audio, text, or image banner, our aim is to tailor the communication on each media/platform according to its best practices.
For instance, the rendition of a video on Instagram Reel (or YouTube Shorts) differs from one on YouTube Home Feed or an OTT Ad. Similarly, an ad on Sharechat/Moj varies from that on Television. Even in Cinema or outdoor settings, customizations are recommended. While the core message remains the same, the rendition adapts to each media/platform.
When it comes to measurement, we compare the platform benchmark to the X Category Benchmark against our campaign numbers to evaluate its effectiveness. Search Lift, Brand Lift, MediaMixModelling, and Sales Lift are also some of the ways we gauge campaign effectiveness.
As Google’s third-party cookies will soon be banned permanently, how have you seen it affect the digital landscape and what potential setbacks do you see?
Yes, this has been the buzzword for some time, and the juggernaut Google has been postponing the date of cookie deprecation. But in my view, the demise of third-party cookies will reshape the way targeting is done in the digital landscape.
Shift towards first-party data: With third-party cookies becoming obsolete, there will be a heightened focus on first-party data. Brands and advertisers will need to invest in building and leveraging their data to maintain effective targeting and personalization strategies. We have been emphasizing the importance of advertisers owning the data of visitors coming to our landing page. This first-party data will be invaluable when the cookies sunset.
Dominance of Walled Gardens: As third-party cookies decline, the dominance of walled gardens (platforms with closed ecosystems) might increase. This could potentially limit advertisers’ ability to gather cross-platform insights and data.
Rise of New Ad-Tech Solutions: The industry is likely to witness a surge in innovation as ad-tech companies develop alternative solutions for targeting, attribution, and measurement that don’t rely on third-party cookies.
Challenges in Attribution Modeling: Attribution Modeling Complexity: Attribution models heavily rely on third-party cookies to track user journeys and attribute conversions. The absence of these cookies may lead to challenges in accurately attributing conversions across various touchpoints in the customer journey.
What audience-targeting KPIs do you look to achieve across biddable platforms? What changes do you oversee in this field and how have you prepared to align with them?
Achieving effective audience targeting across biddable platforms involves setting and monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned with campaign objectives and business goals. Here are some common audience-targeting KPIs and considerations for overseeing changes in this field:
1.Click-Through Rate (CTR), Conversion Rate, Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), CPM, and Engagement Rate Metrics.
We analyze each audience’s performance based on the above and make conscious decisions to continue, amplify, or discontinue the targeting.
2.Changes in Audience Targeting and Preparation:
Privacy-Focused Changes: There’s an increasing emphasis on privacy regulations and restrictions on user tracking. Some platforms already don’t allow targeting iOS users.
Cookie Depreciation: The phasing out of third-party cookies impacts cross-site tracking, necessitating a focus on building and leveraging first-party data, exploring alternative identifiers, and adapting attribution models. Google Analytics 4 has introduced “Enhanced Conversion tracking,” which, though in initial phases, has the potential to be a game-changer.
Machine Learning and AI Advances: With the buzzword of AI, we’ll witness the growing use of machine learning algorithms for advanced audience targeting. Numerous partners work in the field of AI technologies, collaborating with Meta and Google platforms for further optimization.
Cross-Channel Integration: Recognizing each consumer as one, advertisers now need to develop integrated marketing strategies, align messaging across channels, and utilize platforms that support cross-channel targeting and measurement.
In the Indian media landscape, CTV is booming, and brands are utilizing Virtual Product Placement. How do you think brands could leverage these technologies together? What are some challenges or potentials?
The convergence of Connected TV (CTV) and Virtual Product Placement in the thriving Indian media landscape offers exciting opportunities for brands. Leveraging these technologies together can elevate the overall viewer experience, boost brand visibility, and drive engagement. CTV stands out as one of the fastest-growing mediums in India, with over 20 million households embracing CTV connections, reflecting a significant trend in cord-cutting.
Immersive Brand Integration: Brands can seamlessly integrate virtual products into CTV content, providing viewers with an immersive and non-intrusive experience. It’s crucial, however, to strike a balance, as it may sometimes come across as intrusive and non-authentic or gimmicky.
Audience Targeting and Personalization: Brands are increasingly adopting customized communication strategies, tailoring content to different CTV audiences based on geographical locations and linking it to the nearest store in that market. This approach proves effective in precisely targeting CTV audiences.
Interactive and Shoppable Experiences: A simple integration of a QR code allows brands to directly redirect users to the Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) website for convenient purchases.
Branded Content Integration: While content is hosted on a brand’s channel, certain partners virtually integrate the brand into the show at an economical cost. This subtle integration organically enhances the brand’s visibility. Additionally, collaborate with content creators to seamlessly integrate virtual products into their productions, leveraging their creativity and storytelling skills.
Smartphone usage has increased in India, thanks to affordable and accessible internet. How important is mobile advertising to reach target audiences today?
As per industry reports, India currently boasts the most affordable per GB data prices globally. The prevalence of low-cost smartphones and internet accessibility on feature phones has transformed the smartphone from a luxury to a basic necessity. In 2023, TV and Digital collectively constitute over 70% of the Advertising Expenditure (AdEx). Digital AdEx, surpassing TV, is anticipated to reach Rs 43,000 crore by the end of the year.
India stands out as one of the rare countries with a predominantly mobile-first population, a generation that entirely skipped the Desktop/Laptop phase and initially accessed the internet through mobile devices.
Targeting: Digital Marketing offers precise targeting, allowing brands to save marketing expenses by reaching only specific demographics rather than mass audiences.
Measurement: The extensive measurement capabilities of Digital Marketing have made it an integral part of every marketer’s media mix.
On a Pan India scale, YouTube’s reach is approximately 50% of the TV universe. Notably, in markets like Bihar, YouTube’s reach has surpassed that of TV.
What are some of the campaigns that have stood out for you and why? What were some of the takeaways from these campaigns and how were the different from any others?
- Content: The Fevicol 60 years celebration campaign marked a paradigm shift in how audiences consume content. We pioneered a new approach to market a 90-second film on various media platforms.
- Tech: In a category as challenging as Condoms, where major platforms like Star TV, YouTube, and Meta impose advertising restrictions, we changed the marketing strategy by creating NFTs and Metaverse for the brand called Kamasutra Condoms.
- Multimedia: For Raymond, we employed a combination of online and offline signals to leverage the surge in user queries, marking a first-ever achievement.
Would you like to give a word of advice to young professionals looking to venture into the advertising and media industry?
For young individuals aspiring to pursue a career in advertising and marketing, the first step is to understand what excites you every day. Identify what motivates you to go to the office and what you can envision doing for 30 years without getting bored.
Once the answer is clear, delve into understanding consumer behavior within the respective category. This aspect is crucial, and those who can decipher it are clear winners. All marketing strategies, be it creative, communication, or media, revolve around consumer insight.
The adage “consumer is the king” holds true in the realms of advertising and media as well.
- Neha Mehta
- Neha started her journey as a financial professional but soon realized her passion for writing and is now living her dreams as a content writer. Her goal is to enlighten the audience on various topics through her writing and in-depth research. She is geeky and friendly. When not busy writing, she is spending time with her little one or travelling.
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