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#AdTech: Pepsico’s Shiv Singh On Real Time Digital Marketing & Challenges


Speaking at Ad:Tech Delhi earlier today, Shiv Singh, Global Head of Digital for Pepsico said that there has never been a more difficult time for marketers, but offered inputs on how Pepsi is dealing with the complexity. Notes from Singh’s talk:

- Competing with Status Updates: because “It’s not like the good old days where you could depend on a TV spot,” and it has become incredibly difficult to get scale in terms of marketing “There are 30 billion status updates on Facebook in a month, 250 million tweets published every day. similarly 5.3 billion views. There’s a big problem for me – none of these people care as much about brands. It’s a lot harder than every before to engage consumers more effectively.  That’s what I sweat about. For us to get scale, how much scale can we get through digital?”

- People Don’t Care About The Source Of Content: Even though there is clutter, the positive is that no one truly cares whether the source of the content is a brand, a publisher, the government or a user. “If you have amazing compelling content, they don’t care as much, whether you’re a brand, a media company, producing cat videos. It also means that brands can use their marketing budgets, not just to get distribution, but produce stronger content and use consumers for their distribution. Singh offered 5

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1. Real time marketing & Need For Data, : Singh gave the example of a photo or video of Lady Gaga with a Pepsi in her hand being uploaded, and in real time, becoming viral, then mashed up, and within a time span of 10 minutes, shared with 20,000 of her fans.  “We can do this today but we aren’t doing it. Money should move to digital, not because of time spent, but these kind of real time opportunity.” He did point towards organizational challenges, especially for large brands: “We typically go from strategy, insights to execution in 9-10 months, doing research, focus groups and a whole lot of things with creatives. By the time it hits the market, the original insight is dated. Large organizations work like this, and they’re totally out of sync. It’s so hard to compete with a tweet published 5 seconds ago from my friend to me.
A few key elements to this: you need to have the right tools to capture the real time insights, have quick real time responses, and work with real time content studios with brands as publishers. It needs to allow for realtime co-creation, realtime distribution. We measure our reach not in terms of just cans on shelves, but how many customers we can reach without spending a single media dollar. It has to lead to real time engagement.

There’s a slightly darker side to this as well. I would loook at social data, and check the influence of a particular person – not all consumers are created equal. I can corelate targeting to digital ad data and structure, tie that in with interaction data, can feed that back into a massive CRM engine, and treat some consumers – advocates – as special. We don’t even have a third of the data points we need, but its a massive opportunity.”

As an example of real time activation, he pointed out how Pepsi was faced with a situation where it had four key events on September 16th 2011: India was playing England (Cricket), it was Prince Harry’s birthday. Manchester United was playing Barcelona, and it was America’s Got Talent Finale. “It was a massive date, but we did not know which was most important to people, and we did not have the budget to reach people who care about each. In the morning, we were able to figure out which was the biggest: it was Manchester United versus Barcelona, and we were able to congratulate the winning team at a mass scale, with the right insights, and win that day in terms of a connect with consumers.”

2. Connectedness in real-time marketing: “We know we win when we establish human connections as a brand. Our role in the consumer ecosystem is beyond sponsorship – as an observer brand, reflecting what consumers know and care about. Second is sponsoring – it mattered yesterday, today and will matter tomorrow. The third is being a curator brand, and the last is being a creator brand. We need to play each role in this space.” He gave the example of the TV show the X Factor, wherein Pepsi created SoundOff, attracting those who wanted to talk about the show in real time to their own platform. “There are two fundamental differences between SoundOff and Twitter: On Twitter, any single tweet is engaging one follower, but alienating another. Ours was an X-Factor geeks coming together, and sat on top of Twitter. It was a simple platform that did a few things: it had a deep layer of game mechanics, with points on the basis of thumbs ups, and badges, and the user was competing for more and more attention. We had VIP guests who served as a host on Pepsi Soundoff. The third was a leaderboard, and we had connectedness back to the TV, and we put them on a TV advertisement that ran the next week.” Pepsi later reskinned the Pepsi Soundoff platform for the Superbowl and the Grammys.

3. Embrace Startup Culture everywhere: Singh stressed on how Pepsi was keen to engage with startups at a nascent stage, saying that “large brands have to reach customers people at every stage.” Pepsico engaged with foursquare, and ran a test when they had 10,000 users. Most brands today find it very difficult to reach people senior at foursquare, while its easy for Pepsi because they were were with them in the beginning. “We started with BlueFin before they had a product, because we helped shape their product. We have a digital labs initiative, where we advise startups, work with them, do tests with them. They care the most about the mentorship.”

4. Go deep with location and mobile marketing right now: “Mobile is growing exponentially, and it’s unlocking some fascinating opportunities. A startup we work with analyses checkins across the world, and aggregates those checkins and lets us send deals and offers in a targeted, time sensitive manner. Mobile connects the dots from digital to physical. We’re also seeing a key to our packaging as media. We’ve never really treated our packaging as media. Last Fall, we asked people to take a photograph of Pepsi and Lays, and you send it to an email address. There’s an image recognition software, and we sent back rewards. All of a sudden, we can pinpoint the locations where this is happening, and correlate to that our sales data, and brand equity metrics. Whenever we have rewards to give, we shold give it through our packages, for immense data. Imagine feeding this into a CRM database. We can take massive properties, tie them to our brand and tie it to sales.

5. Transforming measurement: “measurement is broken, and ad spend on digital will only increase when measurement improves. Social conversations can be used as new measurement for brands. We’re able to track, with digitial couponing, repeat buys. Last but not the least, it’s helping us understand how we think about the digital ecosystem, and measuring the media players. This tells us which TV show has a greater social engagement online, and engagement of users. When we next enter a negotiation with a media player around a TV buy, this data will influence the negotiations. We’re used to GRPs, the most fundamental TV metric, isn’t enough. We now have GRPE’s – Gross Rating Points + Engagement.

Singh concluded with five last points for the audience to consider:

1. TV Ads become the trailers for deeper digital experiences.
2. Social media is much bigger than what Facebook and Google are doing, and one needs to weave social media through everything that you do.
3. Build around platforms, not campaigns alone.
4. Don’t start with technologies: they matter less.
5. Scale equals anonymity: fight it.

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  • http://www.befoxy.in harshilkaria

    super post Nikhil. Very insightful and a very happy birthday to you as well. 

    • Nikhil Pahwa

       thanks harshil :)