The Digital Kumbh

I have lived in the USA for many years and one thing that always excites me is the night of “Super Bowl”. Many of the time its not the game but for the marketing enthusiast like me, it is the advertisements that are being shown on the tv in between the breaks. Brand advertisers try their level best to make advertisement commercials look different and remember worthy especially on these super expensive ad spots.Kumbh; also recognized as “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO” is no different. Its the worlds largest human gathering, with over 120 million people expected to attend and it is not just the crowd of millions of people that make the Kumbh special, but also the desire of every brand to connect with the unbeatable audience at one shot makes Kumbh pretty unique.
In order to take advantage of the opportunity to reach masses, brands have already been thinking about the Kumbh campaigns for almost a year. Until the pre-Jio era, OOH (primarily hoardings, billboards, handouts) properties were seen as the opportunities to grab attention at the Kumbh. There were also some campaigns like “Dant Snaan” by Dabur, “Roti Reminder” by HUL which innovatively delivered the brand messages in the previous Kumbh gatherings. I have written previously about the same on LinkedIn Pulse here :
Now with expected 40%+ Internet-enabled users visiting the Kumbh in 2019, it is a mandate for brands to think digitally and use technologies innovatively that connect them with the audience and not just that but also make this engagement rememberable for a longer period. We should not be surprised to experience similar digital innovation like the ones at the CES or FOM at the Kumbh.

Here are the five digital trends that brands are expected to take advantage of at the Kumbh 2019
1. Location-based notifications to drive traffic on stalls: Like every other mela, most of the brands would want the visitors to come to their stalls, experience/sample the product. Technologies like OEM/APP based notification can help that happen. Based on the real-time location of the user, the type of the phone, consumer history and many other consumer segments, mobile notifications can be sent to the audience with a call to action. A call to action can be as simple as replying with an SMS, WhatsApp message, or opening the map application on phone with directions to a predefined or pinned location.

2.Bluetooth enabled services: Bluetooth is out of content share and connection (except car audio) business for a quite a long time. Beacons, once introduced with a high mileage have not yet received a great response in marketing campaigns. However, in 2018 some brand marketers have innovatively used beacons in campaigns, and it can be seen as a ray of hope for marketing festivals like Kumbh. There were two barriers seen so far while ideating campaigns using Bluetooth as a medium 1. The hesitation of the consumer to connect with an unknown Bluetooth network 2. Even if the connection is made, a consumer needs to have an app or something that can be the transmitter of notification, information or advertisement. Both the barriers still exist on the consumer side however now brands are looking for innovation and hence there is the chance for Bluetooth adoption at scale.3. IOT and Sensors – I am fond of sensor-based campaigns like #LookingForYou ( that have tried to innovatively use technology to offer their audience a beautiful ad experience and have returned great results for the brands. In near future, OOH billboards are expected to be converted to Big LED Screens and in gatherings like Kumbh and big melas sensor based engagements will influence the overall experience positively.
4. AR/VR – It’s no brainer for marketers to think about AR and VR experience enablement in their campaigns now. 360-degree videos have already picked up a great momentum in the last few years and now platforms like Facebook, YouTube etc. have integrated these type of content. Brands have a great opportunity to create integrated campaigns ( Online and Offline Experience). VR based engagement experience offers a wow factor to the audience and if integrated with instant gratification, this experience can offer a very long term remembrance. Think of going to a stall, play a VR game in which you win 100 points and so for that, you instantly receive 100rs on your mobile wallet.

5. Application/Wap Based Activities: App or web-based engagements are an all-time high and it’s not the peak yet as the innovations keep on ringing. Recently ATechnos delivered an online experiential campaign for a brand in which we encouraged the audience to play a simple game like a picture puzzle online. You enter your mobile number, accept terms and condition and when you arrange the pictures of the products in a specific (correct) order you can win instant gratification, recharges, gift cards, coupons, discounts or even the dinner with a celebrity etc. The campaign was super hit!

6. For decades, Kumbh has been a venue for spirituality, tourism and advertisers who have thought more on the lines of experiential branding, product sampling, OOH or brand display etc. But thats expected to change this year with more engagement via digital activities, technology subscriptions and IOT.
Advertising is changing as digital ecosystem influences the thinking of a consumer and its lifestyle. In my column, #ThinkDigital I explore the intersection of the latest digital-tech, advertising and everything around. Every fortnight I will be sharing insights on the latest digital trends, innovative campaigns and conversations from the Innovation and data-driven digital leaders across the planet.
Internationally acclaimed advertising and analytics enthusiast, data-driven digital strategist, Abhinav has worked across countries with data and analytics-driven companies such as SAP, Dell, Citrix and led consumer behavior focused data and marketing teams of JetBlue, PlaceIQ, OnDeck. Currently, he is Managing Director and Cofounder of ATechnos (, a 2012 established innovative digital consulting think-tank based out of Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore.

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