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2022: Looking back to look ahead

2022: Looking back to look ahead
Written by Publishing Team

She left advertising in 2011 and succumbed to a five-year non-competition. I had to look for other ways for my talents and time and chose to explore opportunities in mobile and digital. It was still virgin land. Then various value-added service providers (VAS) took over the mobile phone (SMS marketing) who illegally (or by collusion) stole data from telecom companies and monetized it at nominal rates. Digital marketing was basically email marketing (again unauthorized databases) and some rudimentary SEO/Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

I thoroughly enjoyed the decade I was away from “major” ads (some call it old work today) before returning this year to lead Rediffusion and Everest – two reputable agencies that have been among the best in their class for decades.

During my time away from “traditional” advertising, I’ve tried and learned many new tricks and crafts:

  • I’ve partnered with Airtel (and later Voda, Idea, Reliance and Aircel too) to create some very interesting solutions that have been the precursor to much of what masquerades as “digital” today. We gained access to the profiles and data of nearly 300 million Airtel subscribers (anonymous of course) and ended up creating some high-impact connections.
  • We ran HUL’s Wheel campaigns month after month on OBD (Voice Messaging) to reach customers in rural areas who can’t read SMS. The secret to this was knowing who the “nirakshar” (unable to read) clients were and how to identify and separate them from one another. Today, 10 years later, I bet no digital agency is worth their effort to deliver this target audience to Lever or other FMCG companies. why?
  • I ran a year-long campaign for a taxi company to give them customers at Bangalore Airport – sometimes as many as 2,000 a day – in an era when there were no apps. No digital company, even today, despite better technology can accurately locate a customer in a geographic location and make an offer in that slot in real time for a suitable product. I wonder why.
  • I placed the programming bidding engine on top of Voda + Idea data which gives us a distinct advantage over the probabilistic data that most ICT companies invoke today.
  • I patented a CTA (Call to Action) trigger 8 years ago that obviates the need to remember call center numbers. You can only contact ** BANK to reach them. It was a huge success. I don’t see such innovations happening in ad agencies today.
  • I got to know a different space a few years ago and decided to do my PhD in Human Brands from FMS Delhi. Then I founded the Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB) which today is undoubtedly the highest authority on celebrities. So far, we’ve advised at least 100 brands to choose them as brand ambassadors. Not many agencies that recommend or use celebrities actually know much about them. Today, I have a research base of 60,000 people that analyze any celebrity in more than 200 data points. Why other advertising agencies do not invest?
  • Last year, I joined the largest “voice agency” in the world. why? Because ‘voice’ will push the digital world forward – there are already 400 million Google Voice Assistant users in India – and touchless transactions will become the norm in the coming days.

I’m so glad I spent 10 years outside of “publicity”, as we all call it. I have to learn consumer addressability – that too with precision. In 2022 and beyond, accurate targeting of consumers will become the number one requirement for all brands. This is what separates the men from the boys. Unidentified, immeasurable, and unassignable communications will fade in the coming years.

Tomorrow’s advertising agency needs reskilling and upgrading. Back in the agency business, I see that most creative people know nothing about digital technology, and are very different in looking at solutions other than television and journalism. This can be changed — and changed very quickly — but then it requires a change of mindset and a willingness to learn.

  • In 2022, if you’re looking for a job, just remember that saying “I’m a creative director with 20 years of experience” won’t work. Because the hiring manager will want to know if you have relevant experience…read mobile, digital, social, influencers…even basic coding, user interface, user experience, and analytics.
  • In 2022, if you’re a technical director, think vertically. 90 percent of all videos will be displayed on a vertical screen and the horizontal frame will not work.
  • If you are a copywriter and cannot write for OTT, your future will be somewhat cloudy. “Content” is the new tagline, and it’s no longer 30 seconds on TV.
  • Customer service will, from now on, include discussions in customer desks on Metaverse, AI, AR, Blockchain, Machine Learning, Digital Twins, etc. If you have to participate and contribute, new learning will be required.
  • In the media, there is a new learning every day. If you don’t understand deep connection and social commerce in 2022, you will die.

I’m on the wrong side of the age division but I’m still sensitive to the fact that tomorrow will be different than yesterday. As the old saying goes, only the fittest survive.

(Author Dr. Sandeep Goyal is MD from Rediffusion.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the opinions of

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Publishing Team