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An Interview With Ajay Anand – Head of SEO & Digital Advertising, Times Internet Limited

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ajay-profile-picAjay has over 10 years’ experience in Digital Marketing. He is currently working with Times Internet, India’s largest digital products company in the capacity of GM – Online Marketing and is overseeing web and mobile growth of multiple businesses. Responsible for SEO strategy and paid digital advertising for businesses like The Times of India, The Economic Times, Gaana.com among other Times Group properties.

Digital is the new media, with a major shift towards mobile. It is not only a rapidly growing force in the current marketing playing field, it is set to be the future of marketing.

How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?

Ajay:  It was 2004, when digital marketing and was catching up in India. I joined a US based digital agency in Mumbai as a project manager. During the course it occurred that SEO was playing a critical role in success of businesses so I started learning about it. Over next 6 months I experimented for various clients and internal properties and witnessed great success – This led to floating of a new line of businesses in our company called “Search Marketing”. Since then SEO and Digital marketing became part of my daily professional life.

According to you, what are the advantages of conventional marketing over Digital Marketing? Do you think that Digital Marketing is a threat to the future of conventional marketing?

Ajay:  Clear advantages of Digital Marketing are:

  1. Measurability of real time impact that enables you to take course correction if any.
  2. Cost effectiveness over traditional media and
  3. Precise audience targeting capabilities.
Share about your 3 favorite Digital Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?

Ajay:  I can share one success story on Gaana.com. (Ref: https://www.facebook.com/business/success/gaana)

Gaana wanted to reach Indian music lovers over the age of 18 and drive them to its iOS and Android mobile apps to achieve a bigger mobile presence. Gaana also wanted to be able to measure the returns on any advertising investment it made.

Facebook helped Gaana drive more app downloads and achieve higher engagement levels than any other media platform. Compared to the previous year, the campaign delivered:

  • 20% lower cost per install compared to competing networks
  • over 2X growth in daily app downloads
  • 30 million music fans reached
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Ajay:  

  • Rarely looking at consumer behaviour and analytics. – This way businesses loose valuable insights for providing a seamless product experience.
  • Traditional and Digital marketing working separately. – Close coordination between traditional and digital can bring in even better ROI.
  • Not focusing enough on building the SEO ready product. – SEO is still seen as patch work, its not so. SEO and Product are one and all planning should be done at the very foundation level.
Between Agencies and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Ajay:  I will always sway towards in-house approach where the domain experts are always available, fully cognizant of the business, teams and objectives. However the importance of agencies for specialized projects cannot be undermined. After all you can’t have anin-house team that knows-all; so we do work with partners and agencies from time to time.

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Ajay:  For SEO, I have found seoprofiler to be very useful. For mobile apps its apsalar, appannie. My all time favorite for web analytics is Google Analytics which if used properly can give great consumer insights to your business.

Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?

Ajay:  

  • For Entrepreneurs: Understanding of digital can be the real game changer on who wins the game.
  • For Professionals: The digital age is here and those who fail to adapt the new marketing medium are at a greater risk.
  • For Students: All global trends indicate that digital is going to dominate other traditional media.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?

Ajay:  

  1. Attitude is the first skill. There is no one who knows all in digital, so you need to adaptive, open to change and keep learning.
  2. Experience counts everywhere and its no different for internet. We look for candidates who have experience in similar domain as ours.
  3. Mobile marketing is still a rare skillset, so if you have this up your sleeves, it counts.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?

Ajay:  You are in right space at the right time: There are enough and well paying jobs in this sector. India will soon be home to 2nd largest base of internet users with more than a billion dollars ad spends expected in 2016.

How do you stay updated on the latest trends in Digital Marketing? Which are the Digital Marketing resources (i.e. blogs/websites/apps) you visit regularly?

Ajay:  Search Engine Land, Marketing Land by Danny Sullivan. I follow these religiously.

Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.

Ajay:  I have high regard for these names in digital marketing space, they have helped shape my learning experience.

  1. Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land for everything on digital marketing
  2. Matt Cutts from Google for SEO best practices
  3. Avinash Kaushik for his books on Web Analytics
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?

Ajay:  From Search perspective, “Web of Apps” initiative by Google could be a game changer where apps will be indexed like a normal website, hence cutting down the need for installing multiple apps on a mobile device.

2016 will see a bigger pie of media ad spends and a continued shift towards mobile internet usage.

Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

Ajay:  

Digital Vidya is a respected and often “referred to” name when it comes to training in digital marketing. Keep up the good work in shaping up careers of digital enthusiasts.

Are you inspired by the opportunity of Digital Marketing? Start your journey by attending our upcoming orientation session on Digital Marketing for Career & Business Growth. It’s online and Free :).

[Sr. Associate - Content Marketing] A content passionate, Jasleen handles the content writing and marketing activities. Additionally, she leads Digital Marketing Internship Programme. Her deep passion and enthusiasm for writing guided her towards being the Associate Editor in English for her college magazine. Only deep passion and zeal can guide a person towards a professional writing career. Apparently, Jasleen is one of those persons. She is in the content writing and marketing fraternity for 5 years now. A top-notch individual, she is proficient in writing content for multiple requirements including blogs, articles, books, brochures and social media. She embraces practical knowledge of WordPress CMS. Besides this, she is also highly engaging in Social Media Marketing activities.
  • Digital-Marketing


  • There are 3 comments


    • 2 years ago

      jonile   /   Reply

      Great interview. Definitely agree with the fact that traditional and
      close coordination between traditional and digital can bring in even better ROI 🙂

    • 2 years ago

      ajay   /   Reply

      thanks jonile..

    • 1 year ago

      Jasleen Kaur   /   Reply

      Thanks Ajay for your contribution to our community through this interview. Really happy to know your feedback about the work we are doing in spreading digital (marketing) vidya :).

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