Karan Gupta is a young digital advertising innovator par excellence and currently CEO at AndBeyond.Media. Ever since the advent of Internet in India, Karan has been serving on the front-lines; spearheading strategic efforts in various capacities that have shaped his internet business acumen to cover the spectrum of Innovative Internet Technology, Award Winning Creative Advertising and Next Generation Online Media consumption.
In early 2000’s, Karan co-founded an internet technology and web services company called LinkLabs Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd. that catered to over 1500 brand clients globally over a span of five years, a company that grew from a small firm into a large company with over fifty people working under his guidance and support. Simultaneously Karan co owns- UAE’s first ICAAN accredited registrar- MOUZZ. In mid 2000s, Karan forged a joint venture with a reputed advertising agency, namely Law & Kenneth and served as Vice President of their digital arm called Digital Law & Kenneth, credited for handling business, accounts and operations nationally for the business.
From 2011, Karan was spearheading one of the world’s leading contextual advertising media networks called Affinity and has been responsible for launching the PC & Mobile Ad Products and offerings towards building a premium display network of over 3 billion impressions strong and growth of its business in international markets.
He now runs a digital consultancy firm called Venturist which partners with digital businesses that are looking to establish presence in emerging markets like India and grow their presence to capture market share. Karan is on the horizon of revolutionizing the Native Advertising space with AndBeyond.Media – a Global On-Demand Native Ad Marketplace which enables the programmatic buying and selling of native type ad within many large RTB platforms. Through its proprietary technology, AndBeyond.Media helps global supply and demand clients leverage a marketplace for naïve and premium programmatic across top Comscore sites.
Importance of Digital Marketing
Given the nature of work that he has been doing since the turn of the century, digital marketing, the business of internet, and emerging trends & technologies within the digital space have been very intrinsic to the multifarious portfolios that Karan has handled over the years.
How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?
Karan Gupta: With the wider reach that internet gained in the early 2000’s it became known that the need for digital marketing and subsequent services within the space would grow exponentially. While marketing is a fundamental concept for companies, back in the day digital marketing was still relatively new. However, with the growing buzz that the digital medium was receiving it became evident that this is where businesses were set to grow further. I was captivated by the idea of brands and businesses realizing their true potential without being limited by borders or restrictions.
I wanted to immerse myself into experiences on the digital platform that would allow me to push the boundaries of innovation. Pursuing a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Computer Science further fuelled the desire to learn more, understand, innovate and be able to contribute within this space. That was 14 years ago and while the applications of technology and solutions have drastically changed over time, my thirst for gaining knowledge and the aspiration to contribute towards digital marketing in ways more than one remains the same.
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?
Karan Gupta: Traditional marketing channels such as print, TV and radio do come with its fair share of advantages for brands investing into these channels. For example in a country as huge and diverse as India, despite its high internet penetration, the percentage of users who are making use of digital platforms on a frequent basis is small yet steadily increasing. There are large pockets of population that still rely on traditional channels to consume media, news and trends. In a situation like this, conventional means of marketing offer a higher market penetration and increased brand visibility.
That being said the measurability and effective of traditional campaigns are debatable in comparison with the targeted and performance-driven results that digital offers. Digital offers higher efficiency for advertisers than traditional channels of marketing, thereby driving performance in a budget-friendly way – a shift from the conventional advertising models that are still largely focused on reach.
I do not perceive digital to be a threat to conventional forms of marketing. Marketers need to look at incorporating both conventional and digital channels into their marketing mix to ensure their brand campaigns achieve the right level of reach and performance. Factors such as business goals, campaign objectives, target audience and markets where the brand is making its presence felt plays a huge role in helping marketers make these informed decisions about readjusting their current strategy.
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: Used the right way, digital is a great medium through which entrepreneurs can widen the reach of their business, meet new customers and scale their business. Digital marketing also provide entrepreneurs with the power to accelerate their digital footprint aided by innovative solutions and technology, and in times as competitive as these the ability to transform one’s business into something that is agile and sustainable is of key essence.
- For Professionals: Professionals will find digital marketing handy to further enhance their learning curve, gain new skills, network with like-minded industry peers and to stay relevant at all times. Marketers who have been primary immersed in marketing tactics across traditional channels such as print, TV, outdoor and radio have much knowledge to gain from understanding the basics of digital such as SEO, SEM, affiliate marketing, ad tech and more. A finer understanding of marketing practices within the digital space will surely help professionals up their own game.
- For Students: Students and young professionals looking to foray into the digital ecosystem should have a proper understanding of what digital marketing encompasses so that there is a certain level of preparedness when it comes to mapping their careers within this industry. A comprehensive learning of digital media’s offerings and constantly keeping oneself updated with trends, tools (those used for SEO, email marketing, social, content marketing and data) and platforms (eg: Salesforce, Google Analytics, Adobe Content Management System, etc.) will surely propel interested candidates in the right direction.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?
Karan Gupta: The modern day marketer is someone who is a fast-learner, multi-tasker and has the willingness to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity. A rough understanding of digital mediums and how to engage audiences across the right channels is a plus.
In addition to this, knowledge of analytics, adaptability to change in a fast-paced environment and a proactive approach towards problem-solving are key qualities to look out for in a digital marketer.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?
- Whilst it is important to understand the digital marketing ecosystem at large, focus on certain areas that may be of interest to you. Chart your career graph by understanding where do you see yourself; be it an agency, a network, a brand or whether you want to immerse yourself in a certain area of focus such as content, social, SEO, display, mobile to name a few.
- Attend industry conferences and meetings to build and nurture working relationships with other digital marketers. Networking is a great way to meet peers from the digital landscape. It also helps enhance one’s skill set through workshops and seminars.
- Digital is a fast paced and dynamic industry, so keep yourself updated with news, trends and latest innovations within the digital space. Stay on top of industry news from major digital media publications such as AdExchanger and exchange4media, and large players within the space like Google, Yahoo, AOL and Facebook to name a few.
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?
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2017?
Karan Gupta: The next big thing in digital that I foresee is the continued advancements being made on the technological front. Support of innovative and intelligent marketing trends remains crucial for the next few years to come.
Programmatic will become a crucial tool for every marketer:
As more and more brands and publishers turn to embrace programmatic and realize its full potential, programmatic will break out of its ‘martech’ mould and will be perceived as a tool that understands the need of the business, what customers want and what measures need to be taken to achieve one’s business goals; thus serving as a tool that powers core business functions.
Video as a storytelling tool:
With everyone from small-scale brands to media giants like Facebook jumping aboard the bandwagon, video as a storytelling medium is gaining wider acceptance. Video is being used widely given its effectiveness in showcasing relevant, audience-worthy content without breaking the bank. Brands are now making use of video advertising to reach out to users at distinctive stages of the customer journey and influence sales or scale business with highly engaging media. Countless companies have already realized the underlying benefits of using video and have already begun incorporating it within their marketing strategy and its usage amongst marketers is expected to fully take hold in 2017.
Advances marketing automation:
To cut through the noise and maximize the impact of campaigns, marketers are turning to technology and automation. Innovation and tech has been one of the key pillars of modern day marketing that helps strengthen the reach of campaigns, reap higher performance and increase engagement and loyalty. While many a brands have already adopted cutting-edge strategies to incorporate automation into their marketing tactics, this year we will see both large and small-scale businesses developing sustainable nurturing of their digital strategy with marketing automation.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
As one of India’s leading digital marketing training organizations, Digital Vidya has been providing a platform through which its participants can acquire much needed skills that can be applied across a gamut of roles within the digital space.
By training future talent aided by latest tools and technology, aspirants aiming for careers within the digital space can bring themselves up to speed via this channel. My best wishes to the team. Onwards and upwards!
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 :).