≡ Menu

We recently blogged  about digital marketing being a fast moving, rapidly evolving field. In particular, we saw how ad platforms like Google and Facebook are introducing an innovation almost every week.

This rapid change is making executing successful digital marketing campaigns more and more challenging.

Doing successful digital marketing was never very easy. Though to organizations looking to implement digital marketing, it seems an easy enough task. There is the DIY (do-it-yourself) option e.g. Google encourages small businesses to create their own Google AdWords account. Then there is the option of engaging one of the many digital agencies out there.

How difficult can digital marketing be after all ? We all visit Facebook pages, search on Google, browse websites and view online ads every day anyway, goes the thinking, and have a comfort level with digital. There are online and offline training programmes available. So learning and mastering the medium ought to be easy. So goes the thinking.

Digital marketing if done well results in real growth of the business.

The fact of the matter is that doing digital marketing well has always been challenging. By doing well we mean doing digital marketing that gives good ROI for the money spent and which can be scaled up to make a significant business impact.

Doing digital marketing well requires mastering and deploying multiple skills viz. consumer behaviour, copy, visual design, UI/UX, AdWords and other ad platforms, web technology and web analytics. And as digital marketing is in use across nearly all types of industries, it requires a digital marketing team with the domain understanding and experience of diverse industry sectors.

The key difficulty in doing digital marketing well, however, is this. Since the ad platforms are getting more sophisticated (cf. new features being launched every week), it needs a team which is sharp enough to capitalize on these opportunities. Improvements in AdWords, Facebook Ads and other platforms are being made by some of the smartest computer engineers there are on the planet today. To be able to deploy such sophisticated features to the optimum, an A1 digital marketing team is very much needed.

Our experience is that if an organization does hire an A1 digital marketing team, it gets a minimum 2X improvement in ROI compared to a team of average calibre. Hiring the best available team (agency) is always the wise decision to take.


Every day, we talk to organizations looking for assistance with digital marketing. In their interactions with us, there are some things these organizations say or do, which we wish they would change. Here are
some of the important ones:

Some advice to organizations looking to hire a  digital agency.

    1.  Give us a list of items they want a quote on
      Digital marketing is a service that at it’s best when it’s customized. We are like the doctor who prescribes medicine as per the patient and his or her disease. Getting a list of digital marketing items on which a quote is wanted is like giving us a shopping list. What we most want to hear and understand from you is your business or marketing problem.Why are we more interested in the problem and not in the solutions you have in mind ? This is because we may have other and better suggestions as to what works.
    2.  Ask us if we have a database of prospective customers that we can share
      An agency usually – and we are no different – does not keep a database of potential customers. Each assignment we do is specific to a client and the customer and prospect data that we handle as part of the assignment is specific to the client and therefore confidential.
    3.  Evaluate our proposal but not us
      Here is a comment on the process organizations follow in selecting their digital marketing agency. Typically, early on in the discussion, we get asked a proposal. But what happens is that the prospective client quickly begins comparing proposals received from various agencies.What gets left out is either or both of the following. First, an in-depth discussion first on the proposal. Second, an evaluation of the agency and it’s track record.What we recommend: if you are located in the same town as us, ask for a face to face meeting. And if in a different location, do a con call with the agency. Secondly, for evaluating the agency, ask for not just it’s client list or it’s company deck, but for the profile of the agency’s management and for case studies and other material regarding the work done to date. Once all looks good, references from the agency’s clients can be useful as well.Else the danger is you may award your digital marketing contract to the agency with the best looking proposal or the lowest cost proposal. What you need is the best digital marketing service provider.

The above are some observations that are top of mind.  We’ll come back with some more.



For this inaugural post, we want to highlight an issue that we haven’t seen or heard being talked about. It’s about the rate of change in the field of digital marketing. Perhaps ‘innovation’ rather than ‘rate of change’ describes it better.

We believe the rate of change in digital marketing is greater than in most other industries today. If we exclude emerging frontiers (think IOT, AI, robotics, particle physics, cancer research and the like), among the established industries (the paid ads segment of digital marketing is an established $224  billion industry worldwide) there are few parallels, especially when this rate of change is measured by the number of innovations per time period.

To illustrate this, in this post, we focus on just one segment of the digital marketing industry viz. ad platforms (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads et al).

Here’s what’s on our mind.

The online advertising industry leaders Google and Facebook are today among the 10 wealthiest companies on the planet.  In both cases, just one product viz. Google AdWords and Facebook Ads respectively accounts for over 95% of company revenues.

For the purpose of better understanding, let’s consider Google AdWords alone.

Google AdWords: the most profitable software product ever

AdWords is probably the most profitable software product ever in history, more so than Windows OS, which should now be the second richest product ever. What does this mean for the AdWords product? Alphabet (Google’s parent company) appears to have about 20,000 engineers on it’s rolls.  These are engineers who work on the over hundred products and new ventures that Alphabet, Google’s parent, has. Ever wondered how many of these work on a super-profitable product like AdWords? Here’s our guesstimate: 1,000; 1,000 of some of the most talented and qualified computer geeks out there. (To arrive at this estimate, we looked at posts on social media by ex-Googlers on how many engineers work on various products of the company. We couldn’t spot any number for AdWords itself and 1,000 engineers is our guesstimate for AdWords after looking at the numbers on social media for other Google products).

So here is the real question. What it is that these engineers who are assigned to AdWords do ?

The answer: They all work on adding new features and functionality to AdWords and work on projects to increase the product’s usage and on monetizing it better.

Here is an example of a new AdWords feature. This is being rolled out across markets and didn’t exist earlier. It’s called ‘Call bid extensions.’

Here is what it is. So far, call extensions (phone numbers that we see on Google Ads – in layman’s terms)  have been displayed selectively. Which means that even if a campaign has been set up to show the phone number, it is very much Google’s discretion whether to show this each time the ad is served. In actual practice, sometimes the phone number is shown and at other times it’s not.  Google does say that this decision is based on the relative quality or performance of the ad via-a-vis competition ads, but doesn’t give any details. Certainly, so far there has been no way to ensure that the phone number is always shown on the ad.

Now however, with the above call bid extension feature, Google proposes to change the system. It will now let you bid more per click to improve the chances that the phone number is shown.

As more and more people around the world switch to using their mobile phones as their primary device to browse and search, AdWords is introducing other changes in mobile advertising. Mobile ads are evolving to encourage advertisers to use phone numbers and phone calls as the main response mechanism – in place of the traditionally used landing page.

After launching what are called call-only ads, three weeks ago Google announced this change which can makes call-only ads more effective.

Our experience is that a new AdWords feature is being introduced almost
every week.

Much innovation is happening on other ad platforms too. Facebook has been trying to make creation and use of of mobile and video ads easier. LinkedIn recently allowed the use of video ads. There is too much happening
to sum up in this one post.

The above are changes happening in online advertising. Other digital marketing methods such as web analytics, email marketing, website design and development, organic social posts, search engine optimization and e-commerce  are all witnessing rapid innovation.

To sum up, the number of digital marketing innovations per week or month or perhaps we should say per day is – in absolute terms as well as relative to the innovation and change in other industries – a large number.

For us digital marketers, this industry dynamic comes with its own peculiar opportunities and challenges.

A subject that’s fit for a subsequent post.