Digital advertising has seen tremendous growth in India and is heralded as the “Smart Age” with a growth of 33.5% CAGR, KMPG Report 2017. With rapid increase in smartphone adoption and also access to internet in remote places, content consumption is at an all time high in India. But with every marketing strategy, it is important to look into the various facets of advertisements and how they impact society at large.

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Brands use advertisements to promote consumerism, which has been the case since the onset of industrial revolution wherein mass production of products was simplified. The price we pay for consumerism is the destruction of ecological sources, making it an unsustainable model. Advertisers trick consumers into believing their product is required, while users have the option of not giving into the hype and consuming less than what is advertised. Organisations on the other hand need to think about the future and build models that are sustainable and bring in ideological shift in produce consumption.

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As per India Advertising Report by Adobe Digital Insights, 63% of the consumers are comfortable with brands using their personal data to customize website content, advertising and emails. While Indian consumers are happy with personalisation of advertisements, the privacy concerns of data shared poses an imminent problem. Unlike the EU, that has their EU ePrivacy Directive allowing consumers to set and control their privacy settings, Indian cyber laws do not define personal data privacy. The absence of a similar legislative framework in India gives room to miscreants to steal data without consequences. It raises the ethical question of how far would advertisers go to utilize user data without clear laws in place. Hopefully, the recent data protection law to be issued by the Central Government in October 2017 would help clear the issue and secure consumer data.

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In today’s digital landscape where content mills are churning out digital pieces a dime a dozen, it becomes crucial for brands to stand out from all the noise. Users, on the other hand, are equipped with various ad-blockers to de-clutter their pages. An estimate 89 million users  in India use mobile adblocking browsers, as per a report by PageFair.

The rise of ad-blockers should make advertisers realize that their advertising strategies are not well received. Consumers are not completely hostile to advertisements, what they don’t like are bad or low-quality advertisements. A good advertisement is appreciated and also such advertisers get whitelisted by ad-blockers and consumers. While creating quality ads requires a strong team and strategic thinking, ads can be safeguarded using technology. Create proper links for ads and not promote malicious links at anytime, deliver ads that load super fast and do not hinder user experience and overcoming issues of programmatic advertising.

Advertising is a forever evolving and a creative landscape that gets increasingly complex and fragmented with addition of newer media types and technology. Traversing this landscape would require an understanding of the various shades of advertising and learn to balance the grey area.

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