As digital is in the center of today’s advertising world, Corin Chiriac, Head of Digital Strategy Geometry Global Romania, detailed, for AdHugger, a series of aspects related to online advertising and digital promotion in today’s world.
In the interview below, Corin shared with us his opinions on how the Romanian digital sector evolved and what is likely to happen in the near future, the importance of digital in today’s advertising and many more.
AdHugger: How did Romanian digital sector evolved during the last couple years? Which are, in your opinion, the main positive developments? Are there negative ones also and if so, which are them?
Corin Chiriac: By far, the most positive development is the democratization of the smartphone, coupled with better and better 4G infrastructure. A recent study made by Google revealed that 67% of the Romanians with Internet access use mobile phones or tablets. On the negative side, advertising didn’t catch up with this growing trend. We still lag behind.
AdH: What will be, in your opinion, Romanian digital advertising’s evolution in the next year? What will come in focus, what will lose ground?
C.C.: Digital will grow and social media will spearhead this growth. Print will continue to fall, OOH will shrink, TV will stagnate. Video adoption will grow as a trend in social media, helped by Facebook’s decision to allow video play at mouse over and video ads will follow, getting a bigger share of the digital communication budget.
In terms of campaign, we are going to probably see more and better online offline integration. Smart TVCs will have online / social media follow-ups / extensions, TV campaigns will react to online / social media feedbacks, watchers will get to interact more online with the characters in the ads.
AdH: How important is digital in today’s advertising and why?
C.C.: If you are trying to talk to the educated side of the market, it is the most important channel, even more important than TV. Over three quarters of Romanian internet users are watching online videos or download them from the internet. For almost half of them (46%), TV isn’t the main video entertainment device, as they watch more online videos than TV programs. TV becomes more and more the background channel; while it is on, Millennials are more likely to pay attention to their Facebook stream updates on their mobile, especially during advertising breaks. There’s also a Romanian specificity here. TV is also losing its appeal because it doesn’t provide to the Millennials the entertainment they are looking for. They are more likely to binge watch their preferred TV series on different websites rather than wait for the Romanian TV stations to catch up with them. It’s kind of natural that online becomes their main channel. Here they get instant gratification for free.
AdH: Within the digital mix, which are the elements with the highest impact?
C.C.: Those who get fast out there. The smart digital communication is contextual. We don’t have prime time, all we’ve got is real time. The most successful viral we’ve seen lately is not a video production, it’ a simple but effective fast reaction – a simple image, such as the latest Samsung take on the Apple 6 bending issue, or the Oreo response to the royal baby birth.
AdH: What’s your opinion on virals? Do they help brands or not? Why?
C.C.: For some, they do. One thing’s for sure, they are a great medium for storytelling, and this is what brands should be about. But we must understand that not all brands are born equal. Getting on the viral A list is depends a lot of the seeders you get during the first 2-5 days. This is why international brands aiming for global audience and love brands have a bigger chance to get there. It’s in the numbers. If you’re a smaller brand, you’ll have to compensate – and here comes the unpleasant truth – beside having a jaw dropping story in your pocket you will also have to make quite a solid investment in online awareness. You’ll have to buy yourself that lottery ticket, and it is not going to be cheap. Quite surprisingly, this is where most potentially viral stuff fails. It’s not the creative. As we speak, there are tons of excellent things out there that don’t reach that critical mass, mostly because brand managers thought that going viral meant 0 media budgets.
The online viral is a child born from frustration. Most of the great things you will see out there in 2014 will tell stories that couldn’t be told otherwise. With all this pressure on commercial communication, there wasn’t much space for telling brand stories in TVCs. Especially during these times, we need things to believe in, beside price tags. Look at the best brand toting virals of 2014 so far, they all tell stories. In fact, they could make it on the list of any short movie festival in the world. And this is definitely a good thing for those who get there.
AdH: What about social media and blogs? When do you use activations in social media and blogs and for which types of clients? What do brands obtain following such actions?
C.C.: Bloggers still strive to go professional. We definitely need a third voice, beside the consumer and the brand, but again, Romania is a small market for this kind of things. Not having big numbers behind them translates into them missing several important things that can create long term equity: first, independence. They are far too easy to influence, and brands are treating them as advertising channels. Second, consistency. They get from one brand to another, and sometimes from one category to another too easy to create credibility.
Social media should be about contextual brand communication and quick reactions to a very public context. It’s much like sniping. You need shooters and spotters working as a team. A brand that wants to break through the clutter of social media communication should get a full time creative team in standby while a mixed team made of both client side marketing and agency planners spot the best communication context to be exploited. Brands should aim at having a less than 5 hours reaction time to a context. I know it’s not easy to harness this kind of resources, but if you do, you have a pretty good chance to top your category in terms of engagement indicators.
What else? We should focus more on creating a real and solid value proposition for fans, on getting paying customers into fans and fans into paying customers and on getting the super users to follow our brands – those little known people who get more than 50.000 followers;
AdH: Banners and classical online advertising – do they still have impact? Why?
C.C.: Let’s make a quick test. You, as an average Internet user will stumble upon 1700 online banners per month. Do you remember any of them? On how many did you click last month?
Banners are the outdoor of online world, and much like the outdoor, they need to reinvent themselves. First, platforms should offer better targeting options to make it work. In other words, they should know more about their users. Think about the real reason behind Facebook’s success as an advertiser – it’s not the reach, it’s their extraordinary targeting capability and the big data behind it.
To give you an answer, I am more biased towards using social media as an advertising channel. If needed, I would complement it with banner advertising on specialty websites or I would use them for retargeting purposes.
AdH: How do you see the mobile channel? Abroad, mobile campaigns are gaining ground. How do you see the situation on Romanian market? How will mobile profit to Romanian advertising market, in your opinion?
C.C.: Again, it’s a critical mass thing. Beside Facebook mobile ads, there’s little to talk about at this moment. In order to work, mobile advertising should be platform oriented and should be seamlessly blended with the content they deliver. Facebook does that because they have enough big data on their public to really target their ads. I would love to see local platforms delivering their own mobile ad formats, and local media agencies selling these ads. But this doesn’t happen, and probably will not happen in the near future – the next interesting mobile ads platform we are going to see will probably be a global service delivering local ads.
What I would love to see is a mobile operator driven advertising platform, where the subscription cost is also influenced by the advertising you are exposed to, much like Amazon does with its Kindle. Mobile operators are the usual suspects for me, mostly because they have the big data needed to do a great targeting job and have direct access to terminals.
AdH: Which are the international digital trends you consider to have most impact at the moment? Which among them you can see implemented on the Romanian market?
C.C.: Realistically speaking, what we usually get to implement in Romania is not the latest trends, but 1-3 years market validated platforms. We are a top down culture, where new things get pushed by media or telecom companies, rather than their end users. I am leaning towards the conservative side: I hope we are going to see some good examples of TV + Social media convergence, aiming for a better reach and greater brand engagement. Also, this might be the year when we are going to witness the first requests for Big Data driven campaigns that will provide some consumer targeting depth to clients’ marketing departments and the agencies working for them.
By the way, if you are not one working for one of these companies that are already harvesting the Big Data crop, the next best thing might be a new study that will be launched soon by Geometry Global – its name is “Connected Shopper” and hopefully will help you do a better job in uniting the dots of your marketing plan. Follow Geometry Global Bucharest on Facebook, hot stuff is coming your way.
About Corin Chiriac
Corin is Digital Planner at Geometry Global Bucharest. He has 10 years of experience in the online marketing industry being in charge with the management of digital communication for an important number of brands. Among his favorite clients: Orange, Skittles, Guinness and Dunhill.