Gurmit Singh started his career with the well known Consumer Products Company : Marico Industries in 1993. Founded from Bombay Oil in 1990, it was a 3-year-old startup in a way when Gurmit joined. The company scaled up hugely and went public in 1996. Gurmit was in Consumer Product Sales and then Brand Marketing.
Sony Music was setting base in India and Gurmit joined Sony in 1998 and was a part of the massive growth story at Sony Music as it ventured into Bollywood film music with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Vande Mataram by AR Rahman apart from the star-studded International Roster. Gurmit was based in Delhi and led the scaling up of revenue from Northern states of India. The same story was repeated at Music Today, a part of The India Today Group as Music Today expanded into Bollywood Music & DVDs, Remixes, Books with CDs, Mini CDs, Music Events and more through new sister labels that were created. Music Today also entered into a strategic Digital Marketing tie-up with Airtel in 2006 to exclusively market Music Today Ringtones and ringback tones.
The next leadership role was at Rajshri Media, which was probably the first Online Video streaming platform for Bollywood Movies (of all producers) and TV shows. Gurmit was the CEO of Rajshri Media and along with the Founder, the Late Rajjat Barjatya, they created the first original web series in short films starting with Akbar – Birbal. The movie Vivah premiered Online on Rajshri Media on the same day as the theatrical release.
At Hindustan Times, Gurmit led another Growth Story. This time the Mumbai Edition of this prestigious Daily stepped up to the No 2 position on Readership and Circulation surging ahead of DNA (a ZEE Dainik Bhaskar venture). The same Growth Story was repeated as the CEO of Forbes India. Here, Gurmit and team set up the Online Version of Forbes India and grew it to new heights.
At Yahoo, Gurmit served for nearly 5 years as the VP & Managing Director of India. He is credited with record revenues for consecutive years, building the New Yahoo Cricket Product and enabled large-scale User Acquisition and Engagement. A well known Thought Leader in the Internet & Mobile space, here are a few excerpts from a dialogue with him:
Please brief us the importance of Digital Marketing in your current profile
Gurmit Singh: Let me tell you about the company, I have just founded and that will answer this question. Its called DAUWAU Global where DAUWAU stands for Daily Active Users Weekly Active Users — which are the most important metrices for any Internet Business. Therefore I eat, drink and think Digital and help organisations realise the power of Digital Marketing. If they are Large of Mid Sized Organisations, that have been around for a while — then the opportunity is in Digital Transformation. If they are startups, then the aim is to help them scale up. Both on the Audience and Revenue front.
According to you, what are the advantages of Digital Marketing over Conventional Marketing? Do you think Digital Marketing is a threat to Conventional Marketing?
Gurmit Singh: The advantages of the Internet are that:
- You can trace the user journey and hence understand him better. This helps you personalize solutions if you choose to.
- In today’s fast paced world, the user is on multiple screens and his attention span is very low. The Internet puts more power in his hands. He can watch what he likes, when he likes and how much ever he likes + come back to it whenever he likes. He can share, he can block and he can blog.
Conventional Marketing is very simplistic Reach – Frequency – Engage. With technology changing the world at a speed never seen before, Conventional Marketing will have to get new tech led methods to adapt to the new world. The two examples, I can think of are :
- Mirriad: Where brands are embedded into existing TV content as a new means of advertising to solve the problem of skipping channels during ad breaks in today’s world of choices
- Geo Targeting based TV advertising pioneered by Amagi
What according to you are the top 3 mistakes committed by organisations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
Gurmit Singh: Organisations in my opinion are getting a better understanding of the power of Digital Marketing with every passing day. Therefore there is a race to learn faster and to give more importance to trying out new things. The outcome is that Digital Marketing is being used excessively in the Performance Advertising space with focus on Leads, Installs and Purchases.
The top 3 top observations are:
- App User acquisition is extremely essential. But we also need to figure out as to what stage the App is in. If it’s a new App, then the focus should be to generate interest first which can be done through TV, Video and Social. Marketers are completely obsessed with User acquisition nos thereby spending more on CPI campaigns. While the 7 day and 30 day retention is tracked, in many of these campaigns, the quality of users acquired suffers.
- Marketers are in a rush to collect data and often tend to neglect avenues that don’t share data but can give you better results.
- Lastly, marketers need to work really hard on generating engagement in a highly cluttered environment. Therefore getting likes and shares is not the only means to engagement and not the only metrix to measure engagement. There are many more interesting ways of generating and measuring engagement. Like many organizations like Godrej Consumer Products have Social Listening Labs – which constantly measure the mood and nos of conversations across channels. Data Science techniques today allow you to gauge the nos and moods through technology. These kinds of interventions need to be adopted.
Between Agency & InHouse, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?
Gurmit Singh: A Brand Manager needs to be as close to the consumer as he can. Therefore increasingly organisations are setting up Listening Labs, Programmatic Seats etc at their end. This helps in better and faster understanding of a fast-changing scenario and also helps take quick decisions.
I have mentioned about Social Listening Labs and Data Science and how organizations are adopting these and evolving these. On the Programmatic seats, organizations are not only seeing real-time data with increased transparency but are also able to scale up and scale down campaigns at ease.
How do you ensure increasing Digital Marketing’s relevance and influence in the organization?
Gurmit Singh: The first step is to have “In Person” as well as “Online Training” for Senior Management. Step 2 would be to track global trends, changes and therefore perceived benefits and share within the organization. Step 3 would be to set up a Digital Marketing Lab in the organization because there is no better way to learn than to learn in a lab where you can see what is happening on various screens, you can feel the various handsets and other touch screens and experiment with some “controlled environment interactions” yourself. And last but not the least step would be to increase resources – both people and budgets.
Why do you think its important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: To scale up their business, get a better ROI for the rupee spent and realize the Best Value for their respective business.
- For Professionals: To Reskill and remain meaningful in their jobs. Also to stay ahead of the curve and grow faster in their careers.
- For Students: To learn and be better aware of the environment. It also helps you make career choices and in case you wish to become an entrepreneur, then you have a jump start.
What are the top 3 to 5 skills that you look for when hiring a candidate for a Digital Marketing profile? And therefore your advice for newbies looking for building a career in Digital Marketing.
Gurmit Singh: The Digital World is a lot to do with DIY (Do It Yourself). If a person wants to make a career in Digital Marketing, he would have already read up a lot on the Internet and must be active on Social and/or other interactive platforms on the Internet.
- The first step therefore would be a written test to test the existing knowledge on Digital Marketing. This also helps shortlist.
- Step 2 would be to check their social profiles and blogs. The frequency and quality of their posts and shares would help further shortlist
- What are the online courses he/she has done and delve in depth on the same during the personal interview. This is also an indication on the “learning zeal” of a person to stay up to date.
- Then would be a check on the Analytical Skills, Communications Skills and Interpersonal Skills.
- Lastly overall knowledge and experience on Marketing and his / her views on Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing.
How do you stay updated on the latest trends in Digital Marketing ?
Gurmit Singh: I read up through periodic feeds or visit the following :
- Think with Google
- Digital Marketer
- Content Marketing Institute
- Similar Web, Comscore, AppAnnie
How do you see Digital Media evolving in the future ? What are top 3 trends you foresee in 2019 ?
Gurmit Singh: Video and Mobile will continue to boom. So in 2019, one is likely to witness :
- Innovations in Advertising on Video and Mobile
- Content will be King and subscription revenue will go up
- Blockchain will expand to video
In addition to the above the Payment Solutions through the mobile will gain further momentum. UPI and further work on the Technology stack is being catalyzed by cos like ispirit — this will add to the existing momentum.
Education is a $100b industry in India and Online education is in a very nascent stage but ready to go to the next level with the advent of cheaper 4G and WiFi. Therefore the Online Education industry will double its size.
Would you like to share a few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
Digital Vidya is a global leader in Digital Marketing & Data Analytics education. Pradeep Chopra, Co -Founder and CEO has been with the internet industry since 2000 and is known to me since long. He has built a wonderful organization and team, that blends the Art of Marketing & the Science of Analytics and Education in the Digital Field.This is to wish the team at Digital Vidya the very best and a bright future.
To know more about Gurmit Singh, you can check out his LinkedIn profile.
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 :).