Gayatri Makhijani Ray

Head of Brand, Creative, Media (India) at Intel Corporation

Adapting and Thriving In The Digital Marketing Space With Gayatri Makhijani Ray

Over the past decade, the landscape of marketing has undergone a remarkable and transformative evolution, reshaping the way brands connect with audiences and driving a paradigm shift in consumer engagement. As technology advanced at an unprecedented pace, so did the strategies and tools that marketers employed to create impactful campaigns.

This evolution has not only opened up new avenues for creativity and engagement but has also challenged marketers to stay at the forefront of innovation.

Join Mehreen, Senior Director - Account Management at Pepper Content and Gayatri Makhijani Ray, Head Brand, Creative, Media (India) At Intel Corporation as they discuss all this and more.

Here are some excerpts.

1. Tell us about your journey so far.

Over the span of 15 years, my journey in the digital marketing landscape has been nothing short of exhilarating. Starting out with platforms like MTV and agencies like DDB Worldwide, and later transitioning to renowned brands like Yahoo, Amazon, and now Intel has granted me a holistic and well-rounded perspective on the entire spectrum of digital marketing.

This journey has allowed me to traverse the various facets of the industry – from agency work to publisher roles, and eventually diving into the brand side of things. This diverse experience has equipped me with a 360-degree understanding, encompassing media buying, solution strategizing, influencer content marketing, creative conceptualization, the intricate challenges of measurement, and the art of attribution building. Scaling up digital marketing while integrating it seamlessly into the broader marketing strategy has been one of the most compelling challenges I've had the privilege to tackle.

In terms of accomplishments, I've been fortunate to achieve recognition early in my career, beginning with my time at DDB where I was honored with the Abbey's awards. My journey continued with remarkable milestones at Amazon, where I secured the YouTube leaderboard award for the top-voted YouTube ad. Recently, my endeavors at Intel have also borne fruit, resulting in multiple digital awards both within India and on the APAC level. These accolades are a testament to the dedication and strategic thinking that has fueled my approach to digital marketing, and they serve as a reminder of the importance of staying at the forefront of the industry's ever-evolving landscape.

2. Was there a specific moment that made you commit to this space?

Absolutely, there was a pivotal moment that solidified my commitment to this dynamic space of digital marketing. I vividly recall a time when microsites were all the rage – crafting intricate, high-impact microsites enriched with engaging content was considered cutting-edge. However, the landscape swiftly transformed when Facebook emerged as a force to be reckoned with.

The advent of Facebook pages as a crucial element of brand strategy marked a paradigm shift. Brands were now transitioning from being mere "friends" on the platform to becoming distinct Facebook pages, thereby setting the stage for a whole new dimension of brand engagement.

What struck me profoundly during this transition was the realization that what was relevant and effective yesterday might become obsolete today. This ever-evolving nature of the industry ignited my curiosity and fueled my passion for the field. The challenge of staying abreast of the latest trends, technologies, and strategies became a driving force. Even today, the industry continues to be exceptionally dynamic, presenting new opportunities and challenges. This constant state of flux, coupled with the quest for learning and growth, is what has kept me enthusiastic and dedicated to this remarkable space of digital marketing.

3. What's your expert opinion on the future impact of marketing?

From my perspective, the future impact of marketing remains pivotal to the success of every business function. In today's landscape, even when economies face challenges and businesses encounter hurdles, the role of marketing remains indispensable. While there might be a temptation to cut back on marketing amidst such circumstances, the reality is that consumers are inundated with an array of choices. This includes not only competition within the same category but also from unrelated areas. This multiplicity of options makes marketing even more crucial, as it becomes the tool that allows a brand to stand out in the minds of consumers.

However, the key lies in how we execute marketing strategies. The effectiveness of marketing isn't solely about investing funds; it's about crafting strategies that are not only relevant but also deeply ingrained in the consumer's experience.

The evolving nature of marketing demands us to pivot continually, adapting to the ever-changing consumer landscape.

As we look ahead, one notable trend revolves around the diverse range of choices within the marketing mix. The battle between offline and online strategies persists, but within the online realm itself, a multitude of platforms like e-commerce, ODD, social media, and even emerging avenues like WhatsApp marketing exist. The challenge lies in harmoniously integrating these platforms to create a cohesive and impactful marketing strategy.

4. Brands are increasingly focusing on humanizing content. How do you view this trend and its future progression?

The trend of humanizing content is indeed intriguing. While I've employed hyper-personalization techniques using AI tools in various brand campaigns, it's evident that AI implementation has notably simplified the process.

The ability to personalize content based on factors like location, gender, real-time data, and contextual cues such as time of day or weather conditions has enhanced scalability and consumer connection.

However, it's crucial to recognize that content without a human touch can often feel disconnected and sterile. Therefore, the convergence of technology-driven personalization and the innate human element remains essential for creating content that resonates profoundly with users. This trend is undoubtedly here to stay, with the future progression likely to involve a harmonious blend of technology's efficiency and the human touch to establish genuine connections and relevancy with audiences.

5. How do you foresee AI's impact on marketing with the emergence of technologies like ChatGPT?

As AI, including technologies like ChatGPT, continues to shape the marketing landscape, its impact holds great promise for both content creators and brands alike.

From the content creation perspective, AI tools contribute significantly by streamlining the process and making it more accessible.

The format and structure of content creation become more efficient, enabling marketers to focus on the strategic elements of their campaigns.

However, it's crucial to understand that while AI can aid in content creation, a deeper connection between the content and the brand's identity is equally vital. Many times, I've encountered the challenge where exceptional content lacks alignment with the brand's voice and messaging. This disconnect hinders the content's effectiveness in conveying a cohesive message. It's imperative for AI and brand strategy to harmonize, ensuring that the created content resonates uniquely with the brand and engages its audience.

The efficiency AI offers in generating content at scale is undeniable, allowing for quicker turnarounds without compromising visual appeal or textual quality. Yet, the irreplaceable human touch, particularly the emotional connection that human-generated content can evoke, remains essential. This emotion is what transforms content from mere information to a resonating experience for the audience. While AI accelerates content creation, it's the human layer that adds authenticity and fosters the emotional connection crucial for successful engagement.

6. What are your current pain points as a marketer?

Currently, one of the most significant challenges I face as a marketer revolves around the multitude of choices available. The dilemma lies in determining which platforms to have a presence on and how to effectively engage with them.

This challenge encompasses not only the tactical approach but also the content strategy. The vast array of options creates a struggle between optimizing a finite budget and leveraging the countless ways to connect with the audience. It's essential to strike a balance between relevance and presence, ensuring that the chosen platforms align with the brand's persona and resonate with the target audience.

Moreover, the challenge lies in tailoring content to suit each platform's unique communication style, as well as crafting content that harmonizes with the brand's identity. For instance, while having a WhatsApp presence could be beneficial, it's crucial to develop content that resonates with the medium's inherent language of communication.

Similarly, platforms like LinkedIn demand meticulous attention to building brand personas through carefully curated content. In this ever-expanding digital landscape, the task of making strategic choices while staying relevant is undoubtedly a central pain point.

7. How do you define great content, and how can one establish the right machinery for it?

the definition of great content is deeply intertwined with a brand's essence and strategy. For me, the foundation of crafting remarkable content lies in aligning it with the brand voice and overall strategy.

A pivotal step in this direction is establishing a clear brand persona – a fundamental definition of what the brand stands for, its tonality, and its unique identity. As the digital landscape evolves, an increasing number of brands are recognizing the significance of nurturing a brand persona.

This lays the groundwork for a content strategy that resonates not only with the brand but also with its audience. The evolution of content voice is equally crucial in this endeavor. With various formats like GIFs and memes emerging, the definition of content voice becomes adaptable and versatile.

The meticulous articulation of this content voice helps guide diverse stakeholders toward a shared understanding of the brand's core identity. Therefore, building a content strategy that's anchored in the brand strategy and amplifies the brand's voice is pivotal for the creation of compelling content.

Establishing the right machinery for great content requires a multi-faceted approach. Once the content voice is defined, a blend of content creators, aggregators, and domain specialists is essential to ensure a comprehensive content mix. Additionally, leveraging macro and larger influencers within the domain adds credibility and authority to the content tactics.

Moreover, a dash of creativity is indispensable to make your content stand out amidst the digital noise. In a world where attention spans are limited, crafting content that resonates, informs, or entertains is key. While the digital space offers a mere 24 hours in a day, focusing on creating fewer yet higher-quality content pieces becomes paramount. This strategy ensures that each piece has the potential to capture and retain the audience's attention effectively.

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