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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Two days and a whole lot of learning at the India Affiliate Summit 2016

Its a great time to be in India and being an advertising, public relations and marketing professional with many years of experience in the Middle East, I'm enjoying the opportunity to be a part of the 'new India' which is surging ahead by leaps and bounds in every field. 

The India Affiliate Summit 2016 was  designed to revolutionize the Affiliate marketplace in India. Held at the Leela Gurgaon on the 1st and 2nd of September and with an opportunity for   networking and observing innovation in its best avatars,  the Summit was segregated to provide all participants the opportunity to hobnob with fellow affiliates and  brands alike, with the Affiliate Street being one of the main attractions.

An Overview- Day I at the India Affiliate Summit, Leela Gurgaon

Initiated by IAMAI to bring affiliates and the performance marketing industry together, it provided  educational sessions on the latest industry issues along with networking opportunities for affiliate marketers.

One of the panel discussions 

Starting off with the  interesting theme    'Demystifying New Age Marketing' with the Theme Address by Ms Parul Bhargava, Co Founder and CEO V Commission Media, followed by the Leadership address - 'Constructing a Good Affiliate' programme where the Speaker was Mr Anurag Gupta, Founder and MD, DGM India, the programme elicited a great deal of attention from the packed audience who then followed it up with related  questions and feedback. 

Interspersed with visits to the Affiliate Street, I thoroughly enjoyed the  first day and ensured that I attended each of the sessions.  

The Affiliate Street was a  section completely dedicated to Affiliate marketers and gave all the participants  a chance to immerse, converse and disperse insights on performance-based marketing. - wouldn't be too far fetched if I said that it was a great opportunity  to experience the future of marketing

With publishers, brands, ad networks, bloggers and agencies in attendance, the setup
At Affiliate Street and loving it!
sought to replicate a “marketplace” which  had ‘streets and vendors’ with the main aim of furthering  business’ opportunities through affiliate marketing.

This innovative setup was  intended to encourage healthy competition and bring together the 1500+ delegates and 100+ companies at the Summit.

Affiliate marketing is not a novel concept in India.  However, the proliferation  of the internet and digital mediums have given a new life to affiliate marketing by making it more effective and easy to adopt.

Definitions of affiliate marketing vary from 
'a broad performance based marketing in which one or more affiliates is  rewarded for each customer influenced by the affiliate's own marketing efforts' to a narrow one like ' affiliate marketing is the practice of an advertiser paying a third party to publish ads on their web page.

As monetary compensation, various payment structures exist such as the percentage of sale and a fixed sum for conversion.

Based on the white paper released by the IAMAI at the conference,  currently affiliate marketing accounts for less than 10% of digital marketing spend against 15% in some matured markets. Growth of affiliate marketing spend would be driven by three key factors-

Increasing digital marketing spends

Adoption of affiliate marketing by new industries

Improved ecosystems for affiliate marketing on marketing platforms.

According to Ms Parul Bhargava, CEO V Commission Media Pvt. Ltd, 'Currently the technology in the mobile space is not able to effectively attribute sales to the affiliate which drove the last click. I strongly  believe  that with the power of the media, performance marketing on mobile platform will gain further prominence and the mobile ecosystem would evolve to mirror the internet based ecosystem for affiliate marketing"

All tweets came up on this large screen 

I'm detailing some of the sessions in no particular order of preference so that you can get an idea of the diversity and range a the India Affiliate Summit.

Cracking the Affiliate Marketing Code 

 Featuring Panelists like Ankur Singla, Founder and CEO HelpChat, Rajat Garg, Founder, Shimply, Neha Surekha,VP Marketing and Innovation, Airtel, Abhijit Banerjee, Head Affiliates, V Commission, Nadeesh Ramachandran, Vice President, Sales and Strategy, V Serv, and Saurabh Khemka, Business Head, Affiliate Marketing, NetCORE soltions, it was moderated by Sourabh Gupta, Engagement Manager, Technology and Digital, TATAStrategic Management group. 

Some key points of discussion-
From driving sales to building brands through affiliate marketing
How to identify the right affiliates and incentivise them for improving the brand
How can affiliates position themselves to become an attractive proposition for brands and networks.

Means or the end-Last Click vs Multi Click attribution

Moderated by Ms Parul Bhargava, and panelists like Gaurav Arora, Head, Acquisition Online marketing, Nearbuy, Sharat Krishnan, Vice President, Marketing, Blue, Praveen Meloth, Head Marketing, Shop CJ, Ashish Bhatnagar, Head, Mobileand Affiliate Marketing, ShopClues,and Prasad Shejale, Co Founder and CEO, Logic Serve Group, the session covered a wide range of relevant topics, viz.

Is the current norm of last click wins unfair to affiliates?
How feasible is multi click attribution?
How can emerging technologies help in solving this puzzle?

Harsh Agarwal, Founder Shout Me Loud, Day 2
Definitely, one of, if not 'the' most popular speakers at the IAS 2016.

One of the more hard hitting sessions was Ordering its way to growth- Affiliate for E Commerce and Food Tech.

Moderated by Pankaj Gupta, Senior Practice Head-Consumer and retail,TATA Strategic Management Group, and with panelists like Meera Iyer, Head Marketing Big Basket, Shekhar Sharma, National Director, Group M Interaction, Sourav Shah, Head Digital Marketing and CRM,Jubilant Food works and Pramod Rao, Senior VP Marketing and Growth, Zomato, it was really useful!

Another session that I really must mention was the closing one.

Titled 'Into the Crystal Ball, New Age drivers for affiliate marketing' it started off with a packed audience and by the time it was half way through, there were more people standing in all the aisles and listening intently.

With panelists like Sumit Kumar, VP Digital, Oxygen Wallet,  Himanshu Periwal, Vice President , Ixigo, Rohan Bhargava , Co Founder, Cash and moderated by Sourabh Gupta, Engagement Manager, Technology and Digital, TATA Strategic Management Group, it clearly showed all the path forward and closed on the very positive note that affiliate marketing is definitely set to be the  'next big thing' as a marketing tool in India.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Violin- my favourite musical instrument

There are some musical instruments and then there are some others.

One of my personal and perennial favourites is the Violin, often truly called the 'King of the Orchestra'. Going back in time and recalling the effect of it's music on my mind, I clearly recall numerous moments, some of them in some of my all time favourite movies, Thorn Birds, Gone with the wind, Love Story, Dr Zhivago and Junoon, where the violin has been magnificently used to convey a 'completeness and range of emotions, love, tenderness, pathos, sorrow, or then quite simply, happiness and joy.

The violin is a bow string instrument with four strings usually tuned in perfect fifths.It is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the 'viola' and 'cello'.Usually, however, the strings are not plucked; instead a bow is passed over them to make them 'vibrate'.

Spotted at a metro station in Paris

No instrument can do all the violin can do.At different times these are some of the emotions that I have associated with the violin. It has made me feel sad, or then, at other times, warm and good all over. 

By playing slowly or fast then faster,it has sometimes made my heart feel a whole host of emotions that are sometimes quite difficult to define. Because there are simply just so many of them.All at the same time, or then, one following the other, in rapid succession

At times like these, I simply let the music flow over me, taking it in, and can't help but marvel at the skill of the player whose music has such a major impact.

I'm sure I'm not the only one and what are  the chances that you feel the same way too...?

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Magic of Photo Apps and some musings on restaurant staff behaviour

Let's say that I ordered a cup of coffee at my favourite coffee shop last week. If I know one thing about the coffee at that place, is that it's always spot on and made exactly the way that I like it - hot, very strong and with a nice design drawn on its surface. But this time it was even better, for it had a ‘smiley face’ on it. 

So of course the lure of clicking it instantaneously was irresistible, and I succumbed. A few great photographs later, I sat back satisfied, finished the coffee and went on with the rest of the day.

Sometime later that evening, when I looked at it, I remembered that I’d been presented with an iTunes Gift card recently and quickly downloaded a few free photo apps, in addition to purchasing a few. And that was how my journey into the magic world of photo apps commenced. A month lat-er, I must have spent a few hundred hours experimenting with photographs that I’d clicked earlier, with some truly amazing results!

For instance, if I take you back to that original smiley faced cup of coffee, it's now travelled through exotic places such as the Niagara falls, Paris and Australia. Going one step further, I then managed to take that same photograph and put it up on the wall of a conference room where US President Obama and his aides had just settled down to a meeting.

Sounds unreal? Well, let me assure you that all of the above and much, much more is now possible via the magic world of Photo Apps. Try it and once you get a taste of it, I strongly suspect that like me, many of you might get hooked onto it for life! So to help you get started, here are a few of my best ones - iPhoto, Pixlromatic, Pic Collage, Dyptic frames and Adobe PS Express. Of course, there is a whole wide world out there and once you really start with it, you will fine-tune many of your personal favourites. But do remember to write in as I’d love to know more about them too.

Moving onto a subject that I feel very strongly about - the behaviour (or in some cases, the misbehaviour) of service staff on duty at a restaurant. One of the main reasons that we all choose to visit a restaurant is quite simply because we like the ambience, food and the overall feeling of bonhomie around that particular place. But imagine your dismay if you were to visit one of your favourites and find that the atmosphere and, therefore, all the fun that you associated with it earlier has just disappeared because of just one ill-mannered waitress.

What would one do then? Well in my case, it was clear, walk out as soon as possible and make sure that I told everyone I could possibly about keeping away from that place. So here it is all ye managers of restaurants - please do keep a sharp eye on your staff at all times, for you never know what potential sales/customer loss you’d be causing for your outlet just because of that ‘one’ bad apple!

NB- This post was originally written for my column My Take in Muscat Daily