Vishal Sharma, the Director Digital Trading at GroupM, has over a decade of experience in digital advertising, specializing in digital trading, vendor management, affiliate marketing, and performance marketing. ADscholars had an exclusive conversation with him to gain insights into his career growth and the ever-changing digital advertising landscape.
How did you get started in the advertising industry, and what inspired you to focus on digital advertising and trading?
I gained exposure to digital marketing in 2011 while managing a team of virtual assistants at a KPO. My fascination with the possibilities of digital marketing grew as I learned about SAAS platforms, SEO, SEM, email, SMS, and more. The ever-changing digital landscape, including the metaverse, connected TV, and quick commerce, has kept me passionate about providing transparent and measurable results for clients. My current role in digital trading involves managing commercials, pricing, making pitches, partner recommendations, and strategy development for clients.
What are the most significant changes you have witnessed in the advertising industry during your career, and how have these changes influenced your approach to digital trading and performance marketing?
The advent of digital media has transformed the way businesses approach marketing and advertising, providing opportunities to reach wider audiences. Social media platforms such as Google, LinkedIn, Meta, and Twitter are now essential tools for effective audience targeting. Programmatic advertising has made the process more efficient, allowing for greater precision in ad targeting. While Google and Facebook were the focus of display ads a decade ago, clients are now exploring new KPIs beyond these giants, including quick commerce, addressable TV, performance business, and branding activities.
What are the current digital trends that are shaping the advertising industry, and how can businesses leverage them to stay ahead of the curve?
OTT platforms are popular among Gen Z, with TV following closely behind, while radio and direct mail have lower attention. Quick commerce enables faster delivery and stocking, transforming e-commerce like never before. AI has gained traction in digital marketing, with ChatGPT being a popular solution, but how to effectively deliver prompts and communicate with the technology remains a challenge. Clients are optimizing bids while using audience optimization tools, and Finecast, an in-house product, enables TV addressability through connected TV inventory across OTT platforms. It enables detailed audience targeting, even down to specific pin codes across India.
With the rise of programmatic advertising, how do you see the future of advertising and media buying evolving?
Despite the evolution of programmatic advertising, some traditional clients still use non-programmatic ways of execution, while most clients have adopted programmatic advertising for effective targeting. Media buying now requires minimal human intervention, although the human touch is still necessary for larger deal-making and pricing advantages.
What are the key metrics that businesses should focus on when measuring the success of their digital advertising campaigns, and how can they use this data to optimize their campaigns?
Businesses should measure metrics such as CPM, CPC, CPS, CPL, and ROI to back-calculate the effectiveness and efficiency of each channel delivering results. The growing adoption of mobile devices and AI has resulted in a significant increase in data collection, storage, and usage in recent years. Using reliable and verified data is an effective way to achieve marketing campaign goals. There are now SAAS tools available that merge Ad tech with Martech to optimize campaigns. Our traders are adapting to this new buying approach and recommending the optimal mix to advertisers while preserving branding requirements and marketing goals.
What advice do you have for young professionals who want to pursue a career in digital advertising and trading?
Based on my extensive experience, my advice to young professionals today is to be agile and dynamic in their approach. They should be ready to learn and unlearn since this industry will be ever-evolving. Digital marketing offers growth opportunities, as professionals gain experience in all aspects of a brand’s online presence, create strategies for high ROI and website rankings, and use data-driven approaches for effective campaign evaluations. The field is expected to grow in 2023, and there is a high demand for digital marketing jobs.