An Entrepreneur’s Job is to take Risk – Right? Perhaps NOT!

We have all read about the risks in entrepreneurship, heard about them, seen people take them (or at least closely observed a dear friend who took several risks in his entrepreneurial journey). We have all seen the elusive successes and also heard the stories of crashed-and-burned. For those of us who harbour entrepreneurial ambitions, what does this mean? That Zero Moment of Truth (Z.M.O.T.) when one has to take a call of leaving his job, breaking his bank or making a crucial decision on whether to invest money in product or marketing – is overwhelming to many. This essay addresses the concept of risk in this context.

Often the job of an entrepreneur is described to be that of risk-seeking. After all, in the game of disruption and displacement of an existing market or the creation of a new market/segment, there is bound to be some risk. There are many articles that provide advice on the risks which entrepreneurs need to take – get used to life without a paycheck, sacrifice personal time, risk personal savings, etc. And then there are family and friends guiding one to either take the jump or be cautious enough to save ample capital and think of the downsides before going down the route. What is the balanced view between the sail and stay ashore recommendations? The real answer is none. A generalised view doesn’t fit the situation of an average individual wanting to take the entrepreneurial route; it does not provide for the context of the individual taking the call. Risk appetite is a personal decision, and it’s much like the running stamina (or love/hate for running) for any individual.

ALSO READ: How to live life without a paycheck, and should you?

In this essay, we bring the views both in and against the notion of risk by quoting popular reads.

The ‘Ayes’ point out various notions including:

1. The future what-if question: What if I had tried this when I was XX years old?
2. It’s tough to disrupt the status quo without taking risks; lack of risk appetite is what’s stopping the incumbent from innovation.
3. You learn by taking risks.
4. By being ready to seize the opportunity, you will likely be a trailblazer.

ALSO READ: The various stages of an early entrepreneur’s journey. Where to focus?

And the ‘Nays’,

1. Protect your downside than thinking of the upside (same as the bird-in-hand logic).
2. Entrepreneurship is a sustained journey, and you would lose patience along the way, so it’s not worth starting if you are going to fade 6-12 months later.
3. It’s a toll not just on you but also on your family and loved ones.
4. Displacing heavy giants is not easy and involves a great idea, execution, timing and in some cases, luck. Are you ready for taking the chance of all of these going right for you together?

So when one goes through the opinions of the ayes and nays, he is left struggling for the right choice. After all, in some sense, it’s the appeal of the mind vs the heart. So how does one really make a choice? We bring reference to an alternate perspective provided by Adam Grant in his book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. The book provides many examples and perspectives, but two of them particularly stand out in reference to the context of this essay.

First, Adam Grant talks about his decision to not invest in a startup where the founders were still in school and looking for internships/jobs to cut risk in case the startup didn’t take off. In Adam’s thinking, they didn’t have enough skin in the game or risk appetite for him to back them up using his personal capital. The startup went to become Warby Parker – an American online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses valued above a billion dollars and has raised $300 MM to date. Adam talks a lot about Warby Parker in his book to explain how the founders cut risk at various stages including the risk of carrying inventory.

Second, Adam talks about risk in internal enterprises. This is highly relevant as many readers of this essay may be seeking intrapreneurial ambitions (or want to help reinvent things where they work). In this example, he talks about Carmen Medina at CIA and how her plans to reinvent collaboration around intelligence gathering were considered too risky. She failed only to come back many years later and revive the project to be a big success.

The interesting view that Adam provides is that the role of an entrepreneur is perhaps not to not take risks but instead avoid it – systematically. If one chooses to ascribe to this view, then the key is to identify that risk.

If you wish to become a successful entrepreneur, have an idea in mind or are looking for one, it would be a good idea to learn from a professional course meant to help budding or early-stage entrepreneurs. For more information about the London Business School Entrepreneurial Edge programme, visit us.




With the emerging technological advancements and fundamental shifts in supply chain activities, it is safe to say that the supply chain landscape is not the same as it was a decade ago. New evolutions in technology such as 3-D printing, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics and omni-channel retailing have brought about tremendous change in supply chain management.
Take the e-commerce giant Amazon for example, which has been working on a drone-based delivery system. The retail corporation Walmart has also developed a global satellite system that collects and shares its real-time store data. While these companies have taken that early step towards redefining their supply chain for optimal success in the future, most industries are finding it difficult to prepare themselves for today’s ever-evolving, exponentially more complex supply chain industry.
The question is why?
According to industry analysts and experts, so much progress so quickly calls for new skills in supply chain management and leadership. Unfortunately, most supply chain organizations are unable to meet this demand currently.
Hence, the need of the hour is an advanced workforce who can integrate innovation and technology with their working knowledge of supply chain tools, activities, and goals to carry out strategic, higher-level supply chain activities in the very near future.
Here are some skills that are required for a new-age supply chain manager:

1. Understanding of Information Systems

In the words of Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft, “Information Technology is at the core of how you do your business and how your business model evolves itself.” This stands true for supply chain industry as well. Thus, it is important for supply chain managers of tomorrow to gain expertise and adeptness in packaged software systems like WMS, ERP, TMS, etc. for better decision support.

2. Technological Expertise

In the wake of technological revolution, it has become imperative for supply chain managers to gain knowledge in areas like Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Robotics and Automation, and know how to effectively utilise them to advance their supply chain. Take Alibaba for instance, which was able to reduce the human workforce at one its facilities by 70% by increasing robotic labour.

3. Strategic Planning and Big Thinking

Another capability quickly becoming indispensable in supply chain leaders is data analytics mentality or Big Thinking. The knowledge of advanced analytics provides them the ability to draw on the data sets and information created by supply chain activities to anticipate market trends and make better, faster, holistic decisions while say, optimising their production runs and distribution plans.

4. End-to-End Supply Chain Management

Unlike a few years ago, a supply chain manager today needs to understand the complete end-to-end supply chain – from sourcing to production, planning to delivery and service – through collaboration and networking. This real-time experience can enable future managers to align all key supply chain partners, identify potential risks and address issues as they arise for effective operations.

5. Risk Management Expertise

As new and improved products, processes and services are entering the market, risk management is fast becoming an important asset for supply chain managers. While different businesses will have an array of different potential risks, the knowledge of risk management can help supply chain managers ask the right questions relating to business, quantify risks, and build contingencies effectively.

6. Global Leadership

As the supply chain is becoming global owing to the technological developments and changes in the market, it has become vital for supply chain managers of tomorrow to develop a holistic leadership style. The ability to control the entire supply chain process as a single point of command, and work seamlessly on a multi-channel, multi-partner basis will enable them to drive change and action.

Currently, supply chain management positions are growing at nearly 270,000 opportunities per year, and there is only one skilled candidate for every six job openings. By 2030, the volume of jobs in the supply chain industry would have grown exponentially and the ratio of qualified candidates to job openings could be as high as 1:9.
The question is will you qualify to run the supply chains of 2030? How would you thrive, and not just survive in the rapidly changing and rather complex supply chain environment?
If you wish to accelerate your career and master these new-age skills to prepare yourself to lead the supply chain industry to 2030 and beyond, MIT’s Supply Chain Management Program is just the right choice for you. For more details, click here.




When it is time to climb the corporate ladder, one of the most sought-after skills that will help you on your ascent is the art of public speaking. Be it pitching your ideas in a meeting or motivating the team; speaking effectively is the key to connect with your audience. From Steve Jobs to Indra Nooyi, nearly every leader around the world brings impeccable oratorical skills to the table.

Even though public speaking is a challenging game to perfect, practice can go a long way to help you get things right. As you work towards becoming an effective orator, you will realize that it really is the little things that matter.

Be prepared

Few things are worse than being caught off guard. Knowing your content inside out can be the difference between an evocative presentation and one that falls flat, leaving your audience not only bored but confused as well.

Read up as much as you can on the topic that you’re going to talk about. Focus not only on the content of your speech or presentation but also on rooting it with a strong context. Explore the topic from multiple angles, even if you don’t touch upon those in your actual talk or presentation. This way, not only are you well informed but you are also well equipped to answer any questions that crop up.

Know your audience

What you speak is more about your audience than you, yourself. Your choice of words, body language, level of information and other relevant things will depend on who you are talking to. The way you speak to one group of people may not be as effective for another group. So before you craft your speech, or just set out make an impromptu announcement, make a note of who you are speaking to. Consider, their age, gender as well as the general cultural milieu and keep these factors at the top of your mind before you craft your words. It might be a good idea to think of some apt catchy phrases and one-liners that will attract your audience’s attention.

Use visual aids wisely

An audience that is unengaged is rarely receptive to what you have to say. The best ideas can die a silent death at the hands of a lackluster explanation. Think of a situation where you are having a conversation with your friend and instead of talking to you, your friend is reading out notes from a piece of paper.

Did you lose interest?

Your audience will too, if you rely too heavily on visual aids. Use visual aids like presentations, for the benefit of the audience. Leverage audiovisual content and innovative formats to keep the audience engaged. Do not use visual aids merely as tools to help you remember what to say next.

Package your message right

The way you present your message is more important than what you have in mind. Use a nice and catchy story or incident to open. You need to grab your audience’s attention with the opening line itself. Interact with them from time to time. This will make sure that you avoid any cognitive backlog. Make your presentation feel like a story and not a lecture to your audience. You can add some relevant anecdotes to establish a firm connection with your audience, and make sure you build on this connection at multiple points during your talk.

Remember that the more often you speak, the better you will be able to ace the art of public speaking. You may not be able to shake off those nerves at once, but you will surely learn how to minimize them with time and by having command & expertise over the area you are speaking about.

We, at Pearson Professional, offer career programs and other certificate programs around new-age skills from leading international universities to prepare you for the challenges that you would face in real life, make you a better leader and help you gain an edge over others to stay ahead in your career.



Machines emulating human interactions was just an idea once confined to Sci-Fi movies. However, since the dawn of the ‘intelligent machines’ in 1950s, science has come quite far in making Artificial Intelligence (AI) a ubiquitous reality today. From voice-powered personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa to fundamental and underlying technologies like behavioural algorithms and suggestive searches, AI has seeped its way into our lives in forms which once seemed implausible.

Today, there are numerous practical applications of AI. Let’s take a look at some of them:


AI has become a buzzword in every industry, and more than 75% businesses are investing in big data and machine learning today. The impact of AI-powered solutions on businesses and everyday life are proof enough that intelligent machines are bringing AI much closer to reality than we think. Latest market research suggests that the worth of global AI market will be 16.06 billion USD by 2022.

With AI progressing at such an incredible pace, it is clear that the way we work will also be redefined in the next five years. According to a new Gartner report, one in every five workers engaged in non-routine tasks will rely on AI to help with their work by the year 2022. The same report also estimates that by 2020, AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs, but on the brighter side, it will also create 2.3 million new jobs that do not exist at present. However, most professionals are not adequately prepared for this future. There is a very significant gap in their working knowledge; what they need is to be agile and change their skills over time in order to move AI projects from ideation to implementation.

How can you survive this technological shift and sustain your career in the years to come? The answer is relatively simple – ADAPT.

As rightly put by Rodney Brook, a pioneer in the field of robotics, “Artificial intelligence is a tool, not a threat.” So, don’t let the threat of job loss overshadow what you can achieve with the power of AI. Prepare yourself to be future workforce ready by investing in self learning with top international certifications and courses like Columbia University’s MicroMasters® Program in Artificial Intelligence.

Click here to know more about the programme.




EdX® and MicroMasters® are registered trademarks of edX Inc. All Rights Reserved.


With a continuously evolving environment and multiple business functions at the workplace, every professional today can expect to assume the responsibility of a leader at some point in their career.

Irrespective of the position you hold currently, there will come a time when it will be incumbent for you to motivate, inspire and challenge your subordinates… to lead! However, for being an effective leader, you first need to excel in different areas of management – from planning and organization to communication and delegation. While technical skills are a requisite for you to climb up the ladder, it must be complemented with good managerial and human skills for a sure-shot at career ascent.

One of the most powerful leaders today, Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo, once said “Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder.” This can’t be truer. There is really no hard-and-fast guide to effective management and leadership; however, there are some golden rules that might make it easier for you to know exactly which trick you need from your bag of skills on the hardest of days.

Here are some of the key skills that will help you become a successful manager and encourage the people around you to trust you enough as a leader to follow you willingly:

1. Communication
Effective communication is critical to express your ideas comprehensibly and coherently and guide your team to a better understanding, which makes it a key management skill. More than anything else, a potent manager should possess the ability to listen and maintain an open dialog with his or her co-workers and subordinates. This will not only increase your credibility within the organisation, but also garner respect for you as an effective leader.

2. Strategic Thinking
One of the most important requisites of being a manager is to be a strategic and tactical thinker. You should be able to use critical thinking to anticipate potential issues, identify their roots, and develop sound action plan while making decisions and solving problems.
To be able to think strategically and see the bigger picture, a manager must also possess high levels of emotional intelligence (EI). It will not only improve your interpersonal skills, but also enable you to become a rational leader while de-escalating a difficult situation.

3. Motivation
According to Nelson Mandela, a leader is like a shepherd who stays behind the flock and lets them go ahead without them realising that they were being directed by him all along.
Being a manager or a leader doesn’t necessarily imply that you have the authority to control. It is, in fact, an opportunity to let your team flourish by recognising their good work and providing them a second chance upon failure instead of criticism or flak. Creating a positive environment will motivate your fellow workers to perform better.

4. Conflict Resolution
For effective management, it is essential to handle issues that may disrupt the functioning of your team with a level-headed view. Playing favourites is most likely to foster a negative environment and inhibit motivation; hence leaving the team dysfunctional. While it may be a challenge to remain fair and consistent while resolving conflicts, adhering to a strict moral code will allow your team to feel at ease around you and define you as a successful leader.

5. Lead with Example
In one of his books, John Maxwell has written “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” To lead your team to excellence, you must first aspire to excel as a manager and hold yourself to the highest standards of professionalism.
It is your attitude towards your role that will set examples for your team members and determine their behaviour. So, if you wish your team to work together and give their 100% to any assignment that comes through, all you need to do is do the same FIRST.
Adopting these practices in your everyday work-life will ensure that when the time comes, you will emerge as an effective manager and a leader who is looked upon and respected.


An elementary-school girl in a skirt and pony-tail stares up at the mighty Charging Bull – under the New York sun, in extreme cold and amidst heavy snowfall. She’s the Fearless Girl who’s been placed on Wall Street to “remind us that today’s working woman is here to stay”. State Street Global Advisors thought it best to embody women’s professional ambitions in a child’s form. An investment firm whose 28 member leadership team contains 5 women has earned free press of worth $7.4 million1. Despite that, an important question stands: Where should a marketer draw the line? Where must a brand draw the line?
Many including the artist behind Charging Bull – Arturo Di Modica – called it out as an advertising trick as opposed to a ‘symbol’. How far can faux empathy take your brand? To earn goodwill for the brand through cause marketing, your ‘why’ should be strong and far from facile. If you do want an example of the damage it could do, you need not look further than the Peeing Pug near Kristen Visbal’s Fearless Girl. Alex Gardega installed the Peeing Pug as a form of protest to the “corporate nonsense”2 of State Street Global Advisors. Yet, Gardega’s misogynistic reasoning does not discount for the fact that audiences still consider the Fearless Girl stunt to be faux concern.

Consider the above persona clusters and let’s assume that they fall under your ideal consumer and target group. What would your brand do to engage with these? How far would your brand go in making a social stand? Would you say your brand ethos align with any of the causes mentioned above? Would you say that your brand feels the societal obligation to do ‘good’ by them?

When Unilever-Kodaikanal’s mercury poisoning incident happened, it was a PR nightmare for the company. Unilever later admitted, although to only selling a quantity of 5.3 metric tonnes of glass containing 0.15% residual mercury to a scrap recycler near the factory. When it comes to corporate accountability and liability, no company, no matter how big can gamble consumer trust and still win.

When it comes to ‘clean’ cause marketing, Ariel did something clutter-breaking. When the brand came out with their carefully thought-out integrated campaign #ShareTheLoad, it was so clear of any negative emotions that the acceptance to change was easy for the audience. Focusing on gender equality in modern lives, they collaborated with daily print publications for an ‘Odd-Even laundry Calendar’ for Him and Her. Ariel even collaborated with the Dabbawalas of Mumbai to widely spread the message, targeting especially men in the offices. This campaign went a long way in ushering a time in the Indian media where it was acknowledged that brands have the capacity in them to take a stand, make a difference.

Similarly, Anouk came out strong with #BoldIsBeautiful, touching unconventional topics courageously. When Whisper launched its #TouchThePickle campaign, the shame and taboo around periods in the country took a step back. Following the footsteps of Whisper, Sofy came out with #imnotdown. Likewise, back in the day, Red Label had launched ‘Live-In’. This ad explored ‘tradition’, ‘love’ and live-in relationships. Havell’s hadn’t hesitated either. ‘Winds Of Change’ explored the then socio-political scenario in the country.

Moving on to a subject matter more sensitive, when Section 377 was announced, brands came out in solidarity to what they thought was an undebatable humanitarian right by the virtue of freedom of choice. Other brands which stood in solidarity with the LGBTQ community in the country are Myntra, MTV, Chumbak, Channel V, Hidesign, Kiehl’s and Lalit Hotels. Going beyond and going global, the Trump era saw something more than smart brand leadership: it showed brands taking a moral stand. Post Trump, Cadillac addressed the growing turmoil in the US. They addressed a ‘divided nation’ and asked for the opposite, something positive, more constructive.

At the same time, when Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank called Donald Trump “..a great asset to America..” in an interview on CNBC, the company faced heavy backlash. Disappointment resonated from sponsored athletes and the wider consumer base. When a company makes a statement as clear as that, it attaches itself with a bigger issue. A company standing up for a public figure who made racist and sexist remarks did not bode well with the brand ambassadors Steph Curry, Dwayne Johnson and Misty Copeland. In a somewhat strange scenario, Nordstorm faced boycott by Trump supporters after they dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. It even cost Nordstorm a 1% dip on NASDAQ, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Businesses which stood against the marriage equality law included Barilla and Chick-fil-A. The National Basketball Association (NBA) decided to move its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC after the anti-LGBTQ law ‘House Bill 2’. PayPal also cancelled plans for a global operations center that would’ve created 400 jobs in Charlotte.3 Similarly, Deutsche Bank cancelled expansion which could’ve created a combined payroll of more than $21 million.4
After the Trump immigration ban, Uber’s surge pricing and promotional tweet around the taxi strike at JFK earned for them a marketing disaster. #DeleteUber went viral and consumers switched to Lyft. At the same time, Lyft pledged to donate $1 Million to ACLU.

Likewise, Papa John’s, Applebee’s and Denny’s reputations have been impacted by executive remarks in opposition to the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. The National Rifle Association has recently made public a list of more than 100 organizations and celebrities that support gun control, including Levi Strauss & Co., Hallmark Cards, and Ben & Jerry’s among several others.


Apart from Amazon, Ford and Microsoft’s support for gay marriage, another interesting case has to be of Starbucks. After the US Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, Starbucks by extension of Howard Schultz had its stand clear. This led the National Organization of Marriage to launch a “Dump Starbucks” petition with 56,000 signatures. Sales started dipping. Their most vocal statement was at the 2013 Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders, where shareholder Tom Strobhar (also the founder of Corporate Morality Action Center, which stands against same-sex marriage) questioned Schultz’s stand. “In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings, shall we say politely, were a bit disappointing”, he stated. Schultz’s response was something like the following:
“Not every decision is an economic decision. Despite the fact that you recite statistics that are narrow in time, we did provide a 38% shareholder return over the last year. I don’t know how many things you invest in, but I would suspect not many things, companies, products, investments have returned 38% over the last 12 months. Having said that, it is not an economic decision to me. The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity. Of all kinds. If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company.”

Later in October, Starbucks added coverage of transgender reassignment surgery to the company’s health benefits. Starbucks also covers prescription drugs for hormone replacement therapy and mental health care. In 2014, it removed the financial cap on surgery benefits. In the same year, Starbucks flew the Pride flag atop its Seattle headquarter. Post the Trump immigration ban, Schultz and Starbucks laid out a series of plans which including hiring 10,000 refugees over five years and “building bridges, not walls, with Mexico” through continued investment in the region. Starbucks was, as a result, rated 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index. This became a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees. Starbucks was also rated as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

According to the Global Empathy Index 2015, the Top 10 Companies increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings. A correlation as high as 80% was found between departments with higher empathy and those with high performers. This study found that empathy is strongly correlated with ethics. Example: Deutsche Bank dropped from 40th in 2015 to 110th in 2016 and Wells Fargo plummeted from 20th to 130th, given their recent controversies.

Let’s take a look at the facts and figures to understand Cause Marketing better. According to a Washington Post poll5, support for gay marriage among Americans has shot up to 58% in favor and 36% against, a turn-around in less than 10 years. A 2014 study from Global Strategy Group6 found that 72% of adults believe it’s important for businesses to align with and address societal issues. According to a Forbes/Qualtrics study, Americans are 8.1% more likely to buy from companies which share their viewpoints. 8.4% are less likely to buy from companies which don’t. Also, consumers aged 26-35 are 21% more likely to shop at a company whose socio-political stances mirror their own. Diving deeper, there are some unmissable insights from a ResearchGate Paper7:

  • “Participants demonstrated a significantly greater purchase intent when exposed to corporate social advocacy messages that matched their own attitudes than when they were exposed to corporate social advocacy messages that did not match their own attitudes.”
  • “Purchase intent is greater when organizational stances toward social-political issues are congruent with consumer’s own attitudes than when they are incongruent.”
  • “When organizations or organizational leadership take stances on polarizing social-political issues, it seems rightly understood as a form of advocacy, often aimed at public policy change.”
  • “Fact remains that engagement in CSA does impact financial objectives for the organization.”

Brand Humanization through Cause Marketing is smart. But bigger than that is the question: If your brand had the capacity to influence change, would it chose to? It’s for you to answer: As an individual, what would you subconsciously chose? Would you choose a brand that stands for a societal cause; will you be able to see through the smart opportunism of brands? What was the last time a brand video drove your affinity towards their products? Everyday, there are brands considering latching onto a cause to garner gains and produce profits. It’s easy for brands to launch a TVC on “woman empowerment” while at their factories in the developing world, the all-women employees are working in inhumane conditions, under stress, underpaid, overworked. It’s easy for companies to give out statements supporting Climate Change combat plans while at the same time, they’re dumping environmental hazards in the lake nearby. It’s as easy for brands to pretend they care as it is to actually make change possible. At the same time, it’s also easy for us, the consumers, the civilians, the citizens to demand more from those who have the power to make society a better place. Albeit minutely, change is possible. So, what do we


Banned the sale of Confederate flag merchandise after mass shooting at an African American church in South Carolina by an alleged white supremacist.


Added more female minifigures from the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. These include female deep sea explorers, engineers, mechanics and astronauts.


First restaurant chain to completely disqualify the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), considering the health concerns for animals, farmers and environment.


As a commitment to combat climate change, Pfizer’s greenhouse gas emissions has been reduced by 20% 2000. It has also committed a 60% to 80% reduction by 2050. It’s also a signatory of UN’s Caring for Climate initiative.


First U.S. bank which ran a national ad that included a same-sex couple, commenting on this “expression of commitment to the LGBT community at large”.


Philip Kotler surmised marketing as “the science and art of exploring, creating and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit”. In continuation of the definition, he acknowledged the importance of segmentation, targeting, positioning, needs, wants, demand, offerings, brands, value and satisfaction, exchange, transactions, relationships and networks, marketing channels, supply chain, competition and the marketing environment in general. This Kotler statement of how marketers need to identify “unfulfilled needs and desires of the audiences” reflects in the Mad Men dialogue, “..what you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons”, delivered by Don Draper.


It may not be entirely wrong to state that such an immense growth in digital marketing and advertising wasn’t expected when AT&T bought the first internet banner from HotWired in 1994. To promote their new campaign “You Will”, AT&T got Joe McCambley to design the said banner. The Copy for the first ever internet banner went something like this: “Have you ever clicked your mouse right HERE? YOU WILL!” This produced a CTR (Click Through Rate) of 44%. Even then, the use of clarity and simplicity to create curiosity was the sure-shot reason for success. This ad redirected audiences to a virtual tour of seven of the world’s greatest museums. This aimed at impressing the idea of time and space travel through Internet, specifically though AT&T. The ad bought at the price of $30,000 for a period of 3 months in 1994, may have hardly signalled how vast the industry would become. Now, forecasters predict that $674.24 billion ad spend dollars will be spent in 20201. It was 1994 when America Online introduced their web portal. Come 1995, Yahoo went from being a web directory to a commercial business, starting the first keyword-based advertisements. Netscape and Infoseek changed their advertising pricing model to CPM (Cost Per Mille). MSN Online was launched by Microsoft and the Internet Advertising Council assembled. Internet users started growing, multifold, globally. Banner ads started popping up everywhere and the standardization of ad sizes was being considered. This led to the first basic standard size being 468×60.

However, by 1996, CTR started dropping and banner ads were converting at only 0.1%. With companies still spending millions on banner ads without gaining adequate ROI, the industry started to dwindle. The flawed idea that reaching a larger consumer base would automatically mean higher profits was permeating throughout. Businesses focused on expanding their consumer reach instead of focusing on profit growth. This was the case with other industries as well. Investors were blindly investing in start-ups with unsustainable business models. This led to the famed dot-com-bubble burst. Tech stocks lost almost 60% of their value. NASDAQ composite decreased by 78%. The whole industry was affected and internet advertising revenue fell by 32% in mid-2000.


When WebConnect, an ad agency placed banner ads for Encyclopedia – Brittanica, banner fatigue was surprisingly prevented. This was in 1996, when they were able to track impressions along with CTR. Unlike other agencies, WebConnect could place ads on any site that was the best fit for the ideal demographic. They had tools which helped capture the number of sales and inquires for each ad, a tool which helped place a frequency cap on the number of times an ad was visible to a user. This in turn cut down the banner fatigue.

1996 was also the year when Microsoft sponsored the Superbowl Website for $200,000. When Google launched its search engine in 1999, the online ad industry had already reached $1 billion in revenues. Pay Per Click ad model was adopted by Google in 2002 and it soon became a major source of revenue for all search engines. This was only the start – soon, Social Media would bring with it a bigger realm for marketers to explore and eventually, conquer.

Launch of Facebook saw the rise of a new vertical, Social Media Marketing. Designed at first to allow users to connect and network virtually, Facebook’s potential as a marketing tool was easy to notice. In 2004, when more than 7.3% of the global population started using the platform, domain and scale widened. In 2006, Facebook announced a marketing agreement with JP Morgan Chase for promotion of its Credit Card line of business.
Later in the same year, Facebook and Microsoft teamed up for advertising syndication, aiming to bring relevant ads to the 9 million Facebook users, then. Come 2007, Facebook gave an opt-out feature giving ad owners the ability to prevent their ad from showing to the wrong audience. A year later, Facebook launched “Facebook Ads for Businesses-Beacon”, which focused on viral brand messaging and engaging ads to capture user attention through viral and powerful, provocative messages. By 2009, advertisers were able to target demographics based on language, as well as location. Although Beacon was shut down by 2010, Social Context Metrics were introduced into Analytics. By 2011, Sponsored Stories and Ads API encouraged regular innovations to stay relevant to the dynamic consumer/buyer life cycle.


An online ad-service agency, DoubleClick brought some organization in ad buying-and-selling after its launch in 1996. DoubleCick found a way to track consumer behavior in the banner ads posted and made it easier to determine the success rate/ROI. Buy the year end, it developed DART – Dynamic Advertising Reporting and Targeting which aimed at helping advertisers track the clicks and optimize their ads while the campaign is ongoing. Revenue was achieved by brokering ads and offering premium analytical services to advertisers along with email marketing services. The price was based on Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) The price for advertising on their network was based on Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) model. One of the few companies which survived the Dot com bust with around $900 Million in the bank.

While the technology behind Atlas (aQuantive) was purchased in 2007 by Microsoft for $6.2 billion, it was later acquired by Facebook for less than $100 million. With a net worth of around $350 billion2, revenue of 27.64 billion USD, 1.86 billion monthly active users and the purchase of Instagram for a billion dollars, Facebook played an instrumental role in creating the foundation for Social Media Marketing.

It wasn’t just Facebook though; Celebrity/Influencer Marketing got a kickstart 4 years after the launch of Twitter, when Kim Kardashian was (rumored to) being paid $10,000 per tweet through With the launch of Promoted Trends and Tweets, Disney’s Toy Story 3 got recognized as the first paid trend. As of 2012, Twitter’s Mobile Ad revenue has exceeded Facebook’s.


Around 1998-99, PPC became an importance means of generating revenue for the search engine providers like AltaVista, Lycos, Infoseek, Yahoo and Google. Bill Gross invented a Paid Placement Model (PPM) for (renamed Overture in 2001) and was acquired by Yahoo for $1.63 billion. While Google was struggling with PPC model, Yahoo offered its ad based on the PPC model since the beginning, in 1998. Later that year, it introduced the automated auction/bidding, where the ad would be ranked for a key term, based on how much the advertiser was willing to pay. The advertiser would pay each time a user clicked on the ad. By mid 1998, people were paying as much as $1/click. The reasoning behind PPM was that the people who were willing to pay for top spots in general searches were more relevant and better websites. In 2001, renamed itself Overture. It allowed web portals like MSN and Yahoo to monetize their traffic. This proved to be highly profitable for both Overture and its partners. In fact, it even brought portals like AltaVista and AlltheWeb. In 2003, Overture was brought by Yahoo. In 2001, where Google made $85 million from its CPM based ad revenue, Overture earned $288 million selling ads on a PPM (Paid Placement Model – Overture’s version of PPC) basis. In 2002, Google revamped its Adwords program. It reintroduced Adwords which now included the option of PPC advertising. Google’s version of PPC was different from Overture’s PPM. Where Overture allowed its users to buy their way to the top, as in – the higher your bid, the higher your listing; Google understood the importance of relevance and better user experience. You see, any big company could buy their way to the top, but if the ad was not relevant then it would generate less clicks, the users who end up clicking will not get anything relevant to what they searched for and the company would make no profit either. For a more robust ranking mechanism, Google, as a means to measure an ad’s relevancy, introduced the “Click through rate” feature. This meant that if an ad with a lower bid got more clicks than the others above it, it would climb up the ranking ladder. A more sophisticated version is called the Quality Score today. Google did not invent the Pay per click model, but it simply adapted and perfected it. Today, almost 96% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising.

It’s a common knowledge that global mobile commerce is expected grow; from US$170 billion in 2016 to US$694 billion in 20193. This, clubbed with the constant emergence of multiple social media platforms and the rise of content consumption through mobile internet, brands have started to realize the need for the “clutter-breaking”.
One good example of the shift in the scale required to “make it big” would be Red Bull’s Stratos Jump with Felix Baumgartner. With this success, Red Bull managed to give its public image some wings. The stunt managed to garner more than 8 million views on the YouTube Live stream. Breaking through the boundaries of traditional marketing and sponsorship alike, Red Bull sparked a change in the way clients asked marketers for “something viral, something out of the box”.

Looking forward, the need for Content Marketing, Experiential Marketing, a clear and strong brand persona is essential for the survival of brands. With Programmatic and RTB (Real-Time Bidding) quickly paving way for technological autonomy and intelligent data analytics, the future signals the need for adaptability to innovations.

Talking about the future, industry giants have recognized the promise and need of AI in Advertising, for a seamless consumer experience. With around 18 major M&As in 2016, by contenders like Google, Twitter, Intel, Apple, and GE, the future looks intelligent. Google has been the most active player with as many as 200 acquisitions under its belt, the first being, an internet software and service (2001). With the flurry of AI for not just data solutions but also for IoT products, possibilities are huge. Products like Google Home, Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit and Microsoft Azure are already creating buzz and despite scepticism towards security, the industry is expected to grow. In 2013, Heineken used smart technology for “Ignite”, limited stock of bottles which flashed in time with the music and it up every time they were clinked. Although it wasn’t successful in creating a big buzz, it gave an interesting insight – being courageous won’t be enough for brands, they have to think of scalability, as well. The recent Burger King – Google Home controversy signals the arrival of a more competitive future and further reinforces the prediction that AI and Marketing grounds will soon be intertwined. Regarding this, some vital questions pop up: Will IoT spearhead the industry towards singularity? Are the innovations yet to peak? That being said, it’d be intriguing to see how Brands prepare and combat the apparent and approaching paradigm shift.