Instead of chasing audiences, advertisers should chase content: Dhiraj Gupta, mFilterIt

Dhiraj Gupta of mFilterIt discusses the effective use of data in marketing, brand safety in the Indian context, and how audiences can reach brands, instead of brands trying to reach the audiences.

Dhiraj Gupta, Co-Founder & CTO, mFilterIt, a global ad fraud detection and prevention company, shares insights on the protection of brand reputation by executing brand-safe campaigns and effective management of media spends in sourcing and utilization of data.

Effective Data Filtration

There are several data points for one single consumer, as an individual can be a tech professional, athlete, or traveler. These data points may either overlap or cut out relevant data points for a potential consumer. So, while a majority of marketers are currently using the data, the concern that crops up is how effectively is the data being used. Efficient use of data requires accurate filtration or formulation of a strategy that does not rely on overlapping or contradicting data points.

Dhiraj shares that this sort of filtration of data requires a connection of a lot of dots, as different profiles have varied data points across their professional and personal life. “And the beauty of it is that you can actually correlate them into different cohorts, right, and as you build those, you can link up profiles into the cohorts.”

These cohorts linked with profiles may include an individual in multiple cohorts, but the targeting can be done based on specific codes the brand wants to reach out to. “Technology and data platforms support these capabilities. The only question is are you actually collecting this kind of data? Do you have the technology in place to stream it, clean it, and put it into the usable form so that you can get that quick? I don’t think the question is whether it’s doable or not. I think the question is, how are you doing it, and do you have the correct technology in place?”

Advertising In A Privacy-First World

It’s been a while since Google has been discussing cookie-less internet experiences and consequently privacy-centric advertising. Meta has also recently discussed privacy-first advertising practices that would come into play in the near future, wherein no personal-level user data is accessed, shared, or used, and instead, aggregate data is utilized.

Dhiraj states that in the cookie-less world we’re heading into, that is the direction consumers want to head to, so we need to come up with a better approach. We can create content, that audiences we want are going to reach.

So, let’s say this marketing professional is an athlete and as an athlete, what content would she be interested in? She would be interested in content related to racing marathons and what shoes to buy for being a marathon runner.

“If you can actually segment content, then you by default, have the audience which is interested in that content. It’s far more privacy safe and future-proof. It doesn’t need any cookies. It doesn’t need any user targeting”.

“Instead of chasing audiences, advertisers should chase content that those audiences are consuming, that might be a far easier proposition.”

Dhiraj Gupta

Also Read: How Cadbury Campaigns fuse the ingredient of technology into humane storytelling

Brand Safety On Tech-Driven Campaigns

Recently, we’ve seen an upsurge of technology-driven campaigns that use an amalgamation of data, MarTech, and AdTech tools, along with artificial intelligence and machine learning. While ‘My Cadbury Ad featuring Shahrukh Khan by Mondelez India goes on to win a Cannes Lion and almost every other award on Earth, the ‘Mann Kiya, Zomato Kiya‘ by Zomato faced major flak for a contextual error. The response to these tech-driven campaigns is highly dependent on what context it is perceived in, irrespective of the intention of the brand.

“If you’re talking about chocolates and happiness, and you’re putting it next to content talking about droughts and hunger and famine, then you’re not doing it correctly”.

Dhiraj states that the problem is that most brands have ended up using tech from Americans and Israelis who do a great job in English and maybe Spanish and French. “But do they really understand Telugu and Punjabi, that is where the problem lies. You can’t be focused on the English context because the ads are not running in the English language”.

Advertisers want to think local and want to run local, but they still use tech which is Americanized.

Dhiraj Gupta

He further adds that advertisers need partners that understand the regional nuances and spoken languages in the country. “That helps advertisers to make sure that they’re not running ads on content or context which is unsafe for the brand. It just takes one viral post to screw up the campaign for you. And then you end up running around and trying to correct it out”.

Further discussing brand safety in the context of initiatives from social media platforms, Dhiraj shares that despite the tools and systems in place, there is always room for improvement. We have also seen several cases of campaigns running on propaganda channels from countries in the middle of a full-blown war, and also on videos or posts that intend to incite religious differences and misinformation. As the revenue reaches these channels, the brands are technically funding these wrongful online activities.

He mentions advertisers need to take a firm stance on this and push social media platforms to take concrete efforts. “Because as long as advertisers are not looking at it and just assuming something is happening. Platform, social media platforms will not do enough to solve it. If advertisers take a call and say no, I don’t want even a 1% acceptance of this nonsense, social media platforms will be forced to invest all the profits they’re making into doing this. Do you think they can’t fund humans or technology to solve these problems? They’re profitable, they’re not a loss-making company. The question is, are advertisers, pushing them hard enough to do so”.

Awareness + Performance

Traditionally advertisers have associated set metrics for set campaigns, and those campaigns are only set with particular objectives. As a lot of the traditional ways are being reimagined, the practice of a particular campaign being measured against a related metric is also going out of tradition.

Dhiraj reckons that only the brand or the agency knows whether it’s a performance campaign or a brand awareness campaign. For all of the data to be transformed into actionable insight, team structures need to be designed in a way that they look at multiple measurement metrics regardless of the nature of the campaign. A brand awareness campaign should also be measured against performance metrics.

Dhiraj Gupta interacted exclusively with Social Samosa at Data Unplugged 2022 Conference hosted by MMA India.