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Roshan Abbas, Founder and MD, Geometry Encompass, walks us through key developments that changed the industry landscape...
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Why experiences still win, explains Geometry Encompass’ Roshan Abbas

Roshan Abbas, Founder and MD, Geometry Encompass, walks us through key developments that changed the industry landscape...
  • We bring to you a series of columns from industry experts, looking back at the last 10 years.
  • The columns will explore how the media, marketing and advertising industry has transformed in the last decade.
  • Roshan Abbas, Founder and MD, Geometry Encompass, walks us through key developments that changed the industry landscape drastically and answers why experiences still continue to win amidst all these evolving trends.
It was 2010 when coming on the back of an economic downturn we were figuring how to pick up the business. I had just started working with a fledgling digital agency on a campaign and when I asked the CEO of our mainline agency to invest in the same, everyone turned and said, "Digital? You mean FB likes? It won’t scale. Give me an old-fashioned event anyday!"

This was 2010. Look at where we are now. This has been an era of digital and mobile. The decade began with the democratization of media and everyone felt empowered and energized. We would change the world. The 30-second ads' death knell was rung again. As Uber, Zomato, Ola, Google, Facebook and Amazon entered our lives, we felt the world was poised to disrupt everything that stood in its way. It would be safe to say this decade began as one of digital disruption. New models of communication and content consumption emerged everyday. Our physical acts got mirrored as digital apps while addressing all our pain-points.

As more and more consumers move online, the advertiser follows. And so do the creative ideas. From interactive banners, to choosing your end videos, from YT mastheads to programmatic buying, we’ve seen it all.

In the role of events, this has translated into the need to be more digitally savvy, and to be far more responsive to your customer base. Gone are the days of sending your client an invite for an event and praying they turn up. Now you will do targeted marketing and look-alike audiences, measure click through rates and tweak creatives accordingly. Though much maligned, it is the age of the Phygital experience.

The few other trends we have noticed are the aggressive use of events by the government. Since 2014 the Modi government uses events as an almost publicity and promotion tool. This calls for deep understanding of rural and digital. For even these consumers are online.

In retail experiences, the consumer has started bifurcating on the basis of emotion and rational. If we are looking for a utility, they will choose the most frictionless experience, here seamless retail is a need and the conversation could start anywhere. Online or offline. Yet if they are looking emotionally, no matter how many touch-points as long as they are engaged, they are happy to connect. Here is where experiences still win.

Experiences as acts are also a huge hit. The decade has noticed a small event being created and then shot for broadcast, the virality thus ensuing being the pay off for the brand.

Sports has seen a huge shift, the decade of the IPL has shown how fast-paced entertainment adrenalized has become the need of the hour. Any sport that is able to mimic this seems to succeed. Kabaddi and ISL are good attempts but still India remains a cricket-crazy nation. Look out for niche sports like basketball, MMA etc.

Gaming championships will also be a huge engagement tool for brands. Already we have over 4 such national level championships and gamers becoming the new celebrities.

Influencer marketing has become something to work with. In an era where trust is in deficits, the need to get reviewers, influencers and subject experts endorse a brand is critical.

More than ever before, this is the time for building experiences. As more and more people find their passion online, they want offline experiences to celebrate the same. Concerts, content and congregations will all win the consumer battle and yes, they will always be supported by great creative ideas.

The last few years have shown some distressing trends as well. The university of WhatsApp where everybody is a subject expert, media houses that seem to lean in one direction only, the increasing pay walls being built around apps that started as free, the perfumed gardens have started building walls around them. Twitter has become troll central, Facebook is full of old fogies who poke their nose in everything you do, Google gives me paid searches and then stalks me with recommendations based on my search behaviour all day.

What started as a decade of hope, ends as a decade of distress. Performers with millions of followers don’t manage to sell 200 tickets. At a recent conference, I heard a CEO chat, “Yes, I need to be digital, but is it real? Who's watching, who's clicking? We still don’t know if the like we got is a bot or a bought one. We need to seek authenticity and engagement. Give me an old-fashioned event any day."

- By Roshan Abbas, Founder and MD, Geometry Encompass
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