Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies in Digital Marketing

Businesses today have been extensively integrated with digitization, promising convergence of people and businesses, while disrupting existing business models. A new age of digital marketing has arrived where extensive campaigns are pushing new products through platforms such as websites, e-mails, apps and social networks. With over seven billion people and businesses, and a millions of technologies bringing a new world together, digital marketing plays a major role in empowering businesses with the much-needed edge to thrive with the competition.

Digital Business Development Path

 Rapid change is fueling digital marketing. Within the last decade we have seen technology giants driving businesses such as Facebook and Twitter. Mobile marketing and advertising marketers have begun focusing on consistent and contextual without being interruptive.  Change is the one thing that is constant, with changes being made faster than ever before. However, impact due to the change is highly dependent on it’s temporal context. For example, wearable technology like Google glass has gained a lot of news coverage when in fact, Steve Mann had already developed a similar device, ‘EyeTap digital Eye Glass’ in 1999. This is a prime example showcasing the importance of analyzing the visibility of a product with time for organizations to capitalize its technological and business resources to make the best marketing sense.

Hype Cycle

 The Hype Cycle is a branded graphical tool developed and used by IT research and advisory firm Gartner for representing the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies (See Figure 1). The hype cycle map how technologies move through different phases of hype and indicate whether certain technologies and products are good for the company in short term and long term. Marketers need to understand how and when to derive value from a product and also when to dispose of it when new things come along.


Fig 1: Five Phases of the Hype Cycle (source: Gartner)

What’s new in 2014?

Marketing Talent Communities: Marketplaces have come up that support organizations and marketers to find and hire qualified freelance talent on-demand. A lot of time is saved in the process of recruitment of a variety of qualified writers, designers, strategists, data-analysts etc. Bloomberg Institute is one such example which financial employers approach to hire talented college students through a normalized screening test called the Bloomberg Aptitude Test.

Marketing Technology Integrators: The scope of digital marketing has expanded broadly. Digital marketers can’t claim to address the digital marketing needs solely through offering new Web Content and Experience Management or Portal platforms. As a marketer, the time and attention required to solving technological solutions takes time away from their focus on target customer. Thus, marketing organizations are hiring services and products that design and implement software and increasingly integration-oriented implementation data solutions.

Transactional Ads: This is an example trying to connect marketing with productivity and conversion. Online ad units that are activated by gestures, present a secure transaction or coupon. This reduces the time consumption of the viewer by enabling a person to request information or to buy the advertised product without leaving the webpage on which the ad appears. If old companies can figure out a way to associate more with transactions, they can boost their chance of surviving in the online market. [3]

Quantified self: It is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs, states and performance. Applications or services on mobiles and wearable technology that provide self-tracking analytics contribute to self-knowledge through self-tracking with technology. Biometrics have been identified that people never knew existed making data collection cheaper and more convenient than ever before. Recently, companies like Google and Zomato have begun to use location data of a user’s phone to recommend suggestions to buy things based on the proximity to various shopping outlets.

Social co-browsing: Collaboratively sharing of the web space with one or more parties from a social network, regardless of the physical locations of the partners. In real-time, multi-user experience isn’t just slapped on top of an application, it’s directly built into the core experience. Companies would have to redesign their user experience to support social co-browsing so as to provide a natural extension of for users to communicate and interact to enrich their real-time, collaborative experience. [4]


Future Implications

Most of the technologies at the peak of their hype cycles today, will plateau in terms of productivity within the next two years. The window to gain competitive advantage in this fast-paced environment is limited. Thus companies must adapt themselves for speed, agility and rapid customer response.

Content marketing can be very resource intensive. Organization should use marketing talent communities and agencies as an escape valve for demand as a way to scale elastically as demand comes online.  The in-source and outsourced roles must be carefully mixed together in order to optimize productivity. Organizations should appoint strong leadership to ensure the success of their elaborate content marketing strategy.

Common view of digital-savvy customers should be kept in focus to ensure tight coordination of marketing activities in sync with the changing customer needs and reactions. Emerging architectures of digital marketing hubs should be carefully reviewed periodically to best utilize resources for most productive outcome.

With increase in social-marketing hype, the social marketing objects should be tied to the corporate vision of the companies. Analysis of how each social marketing activity will support that goal and provide a high return of investment. Gain from adapting to emergent technologies can lead to savings on media from improved efficiency or lift in sales from improved effectiveness of a company’s budget.

B2B management investments should be made into multi-channel, taking advantage of accessible areas in data mining, segmentation and behavioral analytics. Useful analytic results should be incorporated to the marketing strategy to further boost performance.

Criticism about Hype Cycle

Several disadvantages of Hype Cycle have been brought to light. Firstly, it is very difficult to objectively estimate the current location of a technology in its hype cycle. Secondly, terms such as ‘disillusionment’ and ‘enlightenment’ are misleading for people as they give a wrong idea about how exactly and to what extent a technology can be used for an organization. Also, there is no mention of how a technology transitions between phases and what all factors influence the shift. Lastly, several technologies are heavily correlated in terms of advancement through the different phases. The hype cycle does explain the cause-effect relationships between technologies and their impact on acceleration of technology progress and generation of excessive hype for a product.







The evolving business of Bollywood

The story goes that while making his most renowned film Pather Paanchali, auteurSatyajit Ray had to pawn his wife’s jewellery. Fast forward to 2011 and the latest Ajay Devgan starrer Singham has racked up collections in the region of Rs 25 Cr in just over three weeks. The transformation that Bollywood has seen ever since Dadasaheb Phalke made the iconic ‘Raja Harishchandra’ has been nothing short of spectacular.

The early days
The pre-Golden age had film-makers taking the entire financial burden of film-making on their own shoulders. They themselves would reach out to people, entice them and get them ready to sell property, jewellery, and invest in this magical medium. Financial returns were secondary to the attainment of one’s artistic ideals.
The Golden Age of Hindi cinema, which lasted from the 1940s to the 1960s, saw filmmakers like Guru Dutt (Guru Dutt Pvt. Ltd.) and Raj Kapoor (R.K. Studios) organise the cinema sector. They bought land, created the studio system, formed teams on monthly salaries, grouped regular technicians and thereby tried to introduce some semblance of organization into the Hindi film fraternity.
The dark period
Slowly, through the 70’s, commercial interests began to undermine creativity and aesthetics as tradesmen from Punjab and Sind began to pump their money into the film-making business. All through the 70s, 80s and 90s, the film-making business was considered a vice by the government and taxed egregiously at rates ranging from 25 to 75 percent in contrast to the US where tax benefits were provided. With a hit to flop ratio of 1:4, the film financing business was like playing the jackpot. So it wasn’t surprising that the bulk of film-financing came from the unorganized sector. Nearly 25 percent of the films were financed by conventional money lenders who charged exorbitant rates of interest ranging from 36 to 40 percent. The informal nature of the system also made it a convenient haven for ‘black money’ –- cash investments by gangsters, who needed to hide their earnings from tax collectors.
Meanwhile, rampant piracy and poor screening infrastructure had the film industry on its knees. Well-off middle class families tended to stay away from cinema halls as the sound systems, seating and air-conditioning facilities were abysmal. It was only when banners like Rajshri Productions and Yash Raj Films, backed by their seminal hits Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, threatened to stop screenings at poorly equipped theatres that there was some improvement.
Era of the Multiplex
 In the early 90s, in Delhi, India’s first multiplex came up and completely redefined the film-watching experience. In starting the country’s first multiplex, PVR showed a lot of vision and foresight and an impeccable understanding of the changing urban Indian consumer who was ready to embrace the best the world had to offer and was willing to pay for it. A consumer, who up until now was paying 25 rupees for a ticket, was now willing to pay 100 bucks. This one development catalyzed the transformation of film-making in India as films were now looking at substantial theatrical revenues.
The next epochal moment came with the granting of industry status to Bollywood by the government of India in 2001. This opened the door to institutional financing, something that the industry had been waiting for a long time.
Post-2001 stage
With Bollywood being granted an industry status, the whole business of film-making underwent a paradigm shift. The sourcing for film-financing has now assumed a new avatar with more and more films being financed through organized sources (comprising APO funds, institutional / bank loans, private equity / venture capital from institutions etc). This increase in film financing from organized sources has been led by Media & Entertainment (M&E) companies that have raised funds through IPOs over the last few years and new entrants comprising of high net worth individuals (HNI) & companies, who were traditionally not engaged in the M&E business. This has resulted in the players reducing their funding from traditional unorganized sector debt financiers by a subsequent amount. The major players in the M&E space include Adlabs Films, PVR, Mukta Arts, UTV, Pritish Nandy Communications and YRF. With organized financing came a certain level of professionalism which has ensured that even films with an experimental story and cast get to see the light of the day.  The general film-viewing experience has gone up substantially and consumers (in this case the audience) have more good quality options to choose from.
A major source of revenue in this stage has been the growing foreign market for Hindi films. In many cases, the cost of making the film can be recouped from overseas distribution rights alone. To capitalize on this segment, Bollywood has tried a number of marketing strategies. From holding annual film awards in foreign countries (case in point being the IIFA awards) to increasing the amount of dialogues in English, a number of initiatives are being undertaken to boost overseas returns.
Challenges ahead
Not everything is rosy though. Bollywood has a long way to go if it harbours hopes of catching up with Hollywood. As of 2002, Bollywood sold 3.6 billion tickets to Hollywood’s 2.6 billion and yet was able to generate revenues of only $1.3 billion as compared to Hollywood’s $51 billion. This disparity has been driven by a vast gap in the average number of prints and the price charged per ticket.
Until the film industry is able to give better structure and organization to the production, distribution and exhibition segments, it will be unrealistic to expect Bollywood to compete with Hollywood. Also, banks are still circumspect about financing films in India as the risks are too high. As observed by the head of the Reserve Bank of India, the film industry must recognize that it is, after all, a business, and the most difficult task for bankers is “to create an environment where the dreamers understand the numbers, and the accountants understand the dreams.”

Walt Disney of India

Suppandi, Shikari Shambhu, Ramu and Shamu, King Hooja, Amar Chitra Katha

All these kindle fond memories in most of us, a reminder of what we read in our childhood days. These old brands of Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha which we fondly associated with the famous Uncle Pai, have now been acquired by a relatively new venture known as ACK Media or Amar Chitra Katha Pvt. Ltd.

ACK Media, a venture launched in 2007, was founded and is headed by Samir Patil, an ex-Mckinsey partner with 10 years of experience in media, hi-tech, and healthcare firms. ACK Media started with acquisition of Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle brands from the India Book House in November 2007. Then, in April 2008 they acquired a controlling stake in Karadi Tales (series of popular audio books for children). Since then a number of steps have been taken to develop and revamp the old charm of the ACK characters and stories.

In addition to improving content in print, magazines, comics, home video space, ACK wanted to improve its distribution network and have a better relationship with the end customer. Hence, it acquired India Book House in May 2010, and gained control of a distribution network that includes 400 cities, 2500 stores and over 22000 vendors. Also, in order to cash in on the growing size of web users, websites of Tinkle Online, Amarchitrakatha.com etc. were launched which have been developing considerable traction ever since. Also, to capitalize on the telecommunication and mobile data access revolution, there are several mobile games and apps in the making.

There has been a lot of activity in TV & film production space as well. Apart from a deal it struck with Cartoon Network for an animated series, ACK has a content partnership with Turner Broadcasting System to produce two animated films and a series on Amar Chitra Katha stories. Other Indian comic book houses are also making similar attempts to revive the market For example, Raj Comics has tied up with a mobile services provider, and Diamond comics is slated to launch a TV channel this year.

In the near past, ACK had said that they were looking to raise Rs. 100 crore by selling stakes to private equity firms in order to increase their product portfolio, mostly in the digital space. The latest buzz is that Kishore Biyani is interested in acquiring 40% of ACK. Biyani’s reasons are still unclear, but it seems that Biyani wants ACK to venture more into animation and eventually theme parks, as part of his ambitions of creating the Disneyland of India.

The concept of making cartoons popular by involving social media, creating TV & Films animations and launching theme parks sounds fascinating, but there is a catch. Firstly, the world of children that grew up on Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha has grown up into adults now. The current generation of children has too many options in terms of entertainment, and hence domestic comics figure forms a very small part of their leisure time, if at all . Secondly, the urban children population in Tier I and Tier II cities has undergone an anglicization of reading habits, which is steering them towards Noddy, Archies, Enid Blyton rather than Suppandi and Shikari Shambhu. Majority of the children who are still passionate about Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha will probably belong to a class that might not be the target population for the web/mobile ventures, animations and especially theme parks that ACK is planning to launch.

In this background, how successful would web ventures, animation or an entertainment park based on Tinkle or Amar Chitra Katha be? It is all right for Samir Patil to aspire to be the Walt Disney of India, but is that a possibility with his current brand portfolio? To be fair to ACK, they have followed a very structured process – they have tried to revamp the brand by adding newer titles, by reaching out to the end consumer via a revamped and much improved distribution network, by generating online content to increase reach etc. All these are attempts to revive the comic books market and create a market demand for ACK/Tinkle characters and stories. ACK is assuming that by the time they launch animations and theme parks, this market would have undergone a complete revival, thus creating a pull for the brand.

But whether a successful revival is possible in this era of Archie’s, Noddy, Tin Tin, Nancy Drew etc., remains to be seen. Only time will tell!

Viacom 18 Colors Indian TV industry

With an estimated CAGR of about 22%, India has become the third largest cable TV market in the world and has seen many new entrants in the recent past. One of them is Colors launched by Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd., a joint venture between Viacom Inc and the Network 18 group. Viacom 18 owns MTV, Colors, Nick and Vh1. Buoyed by the popularity of soaps like “Balika Vadhu”, “Tu Na Aana Is Des Meri Laado” and “Uttaran”, Colors has estimated annual ad revenues of Rs. 600 crore. This is a 20% share among the total revenues earned by Hindi general entertainment channels over the year.

Currently, the Indian TV adspace is dominated by established networks like Star and Zee. These channels are able to demand better ad-rates and have a wider reach due to large audience volumes. Smaller companies like Viacom18 need much more muscle strength to do as well as their larger competitors in the fiercely competitive market.

The channels in India can be broadly classified as:

General Entertainment Channels– These have been the forte of Indian media giants like Star and Zee. Aimed at the family, these channels show a mix of programmes tailored to suit all audience tastes. With cartoons in the late afternoons, news in the evening and soaps/music programs/general entertainment programs during the night these channels aim at different audience segments at various times during the day.

Niche Entertainment Channels – Set-top boxes along with a subscription model for channels has brought in a new category for television media – niche channels. Such channels cater to a specific segment of the audience based on age, hobbies or interests. Within the last 2 years channels like Discovery Travel and Living, NDTV Good Times and Pogo have gained immense popularity. This has also become possible since the younger Indian audience (15-35 years) enjoys watching lifestyle, science, cookery, sports or kids channels rather than the basic family-drama/ news/music mix of general entertainment channels. Increasing affluence and education have increased viewership of English channels which might soon lose their niche classification. Advertisers too prefer niche channels since they have an assurance that they will reach their target audience.

Regional Channels – These channels are essentially aimed at audience who prefer entertainment in vernacular languages. A majority of these channels fall into the general entertainment category. However, the size of the target audience is generally smaller and the channels cater to not more than a couple of states. A frontrunner in this category, Sun TV, owns a large portfolio of South Indian regional channels.

Viacom 18 has tried its hand across media segments. Its efforts at acquiring and distributing Hindi films has not proven to be very profitable. Traditionally, very few Indian companies have ventured into film distribution and television media simultaneously. Even today, this novel role of a tele-media company distributing films is not popular in Bollywood. Viacom 18 had entered India with a niche channel – MTV and went on to enter the general entertainment industry with Colors. Encouraged by the success of Colors, Viacom 18 is planning to expand further in India. It is looking at launching an international channel which would do reruns of Indian programs. Aimed at NRIs, revenues from such channels would add to profits owing to the existing availability and tested audience response of such programs. Whatever be the model that Viacom 18 chooses, the new-age Indian audience loves variety and is ready for more quality channels.