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Conference Highlights – ad:tech New Delhi, 2019

On 22nd November 1963, US President, John F. Kennedy was assassinated on his way to the Dallas Trade Mart where he was due to deliver a speech to the Citizen’s Council. The text of the speech has since been shared on several platforms, but there is one line that has always resonated with me:

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

Leadership and learning are intertwined and understanding that link is essential for growth of any kind. I’m glad to be part of an organisation that not only understands that but also actively promotes learning opportunities as a gateway to bettering leadership skills. Earlier this year, all the department heads at Translate By Humans attended a conference or event of their choice as a part of the company’s professional development program. Each person’s journey was a unique, amalgamation of challenges, victories, learning, networking and of course, a lot of fun! Here’s a sneak peek into my experience attending an advertising technology and digital marketing conference held in New Delhi, India – ad:tech 2019!

Fast forward to the day before I left for the conference, and I had a bit of a situation. Between mid-week work emails and packing, my cats decided to add their bit to the everyday drama of life…

Funny cat

Much coaxing and many cat biscuits later, I was finally on my way! I landed in New Delhi late in the afternoon and spent the rest of the evening enjoying the springtime temperatures while catching up with some extended family and friends. Early the next morning, I arrived at the conference venue and my stay for the next two days.

ad:tech 2019 agenda

The next two days were packed with conference streams, panel discussions, workshops, and networking breaks. Here’s my account of some of my personal favourites from ad:tech –

The conference opened with a keynote address by David Freeman, Executive Vice President of Star India. He spoke about how the future of digital marketing is emotion and demonstrated techniques a writer uses to grip an audience to move them emotionally in multiple directions.

Some of the methods discussed:

An interesting example was that of an ad for Dollarshaveclub.com which went against conventional wisdom and played with emotion to win customers.


Another great example was the award-winning ‘Highlight the Remarkable’ print campaign by Stabilo Boss.

Highlight the Remarkable print campaign Stabilo Boss

Next was The Boundless Bharat panel discussion which saw 6 industry leaders come together and speak about the importance of localising content for Indian consumers with the idea of appealing to the right brain of consumers and taking the narrative straight to their living room.

ad:tech 2019 content localization

Some key takeaways from the session:

Later in the day, I attended a workshop on native advertising by Neena Dasgupta, CEO, and Director of  Zirca Digital Solutions. She spoke passionately about how a sale needs to be enabled, and not pushed, and each piece of content should essentially be a coffee conversation thereby offering an experience a consumer can choose, not one which is imposed.

“The world is a combination of impressions and conversions conversations.”

Neena’s captivating stage presence kept the audience engaged; however, it was her witty Thong Theory that caught everyone’s attention. The theory explains the reach depth multiple (RDM) of a particular piece of content. The idea is that there needs to be a promise at the beginning and delight until the end for the reader not to stop reading or, in other words, drop off. Depending on the product or service you’re creating content for, the RDM needs to be worked out to ensure optimal information placement.

thong theory ad:tech 2019

Another technique discussed was that of using consumer archetypes to gain insight into how different people consume content. When two people of the same age, profession and social status are exposed to an ad, it is possible that it may be completely lost on one of them owing to the difference in preference of content consumption. To combat that, Zirca conducted research on a sample of over 16,000 individuals and created 8 archetypes based on their online content consumption preferences. Following these steps can help a marketer create content better suited for their target audience.

Once the sessions for the day ended, I spent the next few minutes speaking with some new acquaintances before getting ready for the Big Networking Bash! Day 1 ended on a high note complete with a live concert by the pool, cocktails and dinner.

ad:tech 2019 networking

One of the most interesting sessions on the second day of the conference was by Kunal Shah, Founder of FreeCharge and Cred. He believes the creation of wealth begins with understanding what inefficiency your product solves. His Δ4 Theory helps determine whether or not a product or service can cause an irreversible shift in consumer behaviour.

Kunal Shah Cred ad:tech 2019

If you are to compare two similar products or services and rate the efficiency of each on a scale of 1 to 10, and if the difference in score is > or = to 4, there is an opportunity for an irreversible shift in consumer behaviour. For example, you may rate booking train tickets at the ticketing counter, 4 and booking tickets online 9. The latter has solved a large inefficiency problem and since the difference is >4, online platforms are here to stay. Of course, there are a few known exceptions to this theory, but the theory is useful for businesses to self-assess their hold in a particular market.

The last workshop was by Facebook on Instagram Stories for business. Instagram stories are small, bite-sized videos or images that remain public only for 24 hours. 500+ million people use Instagram Stories every day, and 1/3 of the most viewed stories are from businesses. The session was fun and interactive with live story-making, tutorials on advanced features and tips to enhance growth.

ad:tech 2019 Facebook workshop

ad:tech New Delhi was a great platform to learn, make new connections and draw parallels between content marketing and advertising. I eagerly look forward to the next edition of the conference!

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