Interview with Echelon: Prash Balakrishnan, Head of 3P Media

3P Media
October 13, 2023

Since its launch in September 2022 as the Official Media Sales Representative for Google in Sri Lanka, the efforts made by 3P Media to assist brands in expanding their businesses through Google Ads have been truly remarkable. Building upon this success, 3P Media is now preparing to embark on a new venture, extending its operations to Laos and other emerging markets in the APAC region.

To dive into this, Prash Balakrishnan, Regional Media Sales Director at Roar Global and Head of 3P Media, spoke with Echelon for its October 2023 issue.

Here are some excerpts from the interview.

On 3P Media’s first year of operations:

“3P Media has achieved remarkable success in a relatively short period. In the first year alone, we have managed to establish partnerships with over 750 accounts. We have conducted numerous webinars, sessions, and in-person meetings with key ecosystem players to generate awareness about the capabilities of Google Ads and how 3P Media can help them maximize them.
“This has resulted in several success stories, including assisting major supermarket chains in expanding their e-commerce offerings, helping airlines enhance their booking performance, and supporting major hotel chains in taking the Sri Lankan brand to international markets and boosting their booking performance. Our achievements have been the direct result of our fantastic team, our unwavering commitment to promoting Google platforms and ad products, and the strong reputation Roar Global has built over the past few years.”

On the advantages of Google Ads for businesses in Sri Lanka: 

“In the 2023 Global Digital Report by Meltwater, Google consistently ranks as the top search engine in terms of consumption globally and even in Sri Lanka, with 97.84% of internet users choosing Google as their search engine. Following closely is YouTube, which is not only a video-sharing platform but also the second-largest search engine worldwide.”
“Over the last year alone, the internet population in Sri Lanka increased to 14.58 million from just 11 million in 2022. There are millions of searches conducted in Sri Lanka daily. With the surge in internet consumption since the onset of COVID-19, YouTube watch times have skyrocketed, recording a monthly active user base of ~7 million.”
“Google offers various properties that attract billions of users, like Chrome, YouTube, and Maps, to name a few — all of which are primarily used on Android devices. 88.7% of mobile web traffic originated from Android devices in Sri Lanka in 2023. This extensive ecosystem created by Google enables us to develop a highly refined understanding of our users.”

On the strategies advertisers should use as the popularity of YouTube grows:

“When I ask individuals in presentations about their TV viewing habits, only a few hands typically go up. Many people these days tune in to TV only for major sporting events. However, when it comes to daily YouTube consumption, virtually everyone raises their hand, so it is clear that YouTube is where a brand can find its target audience.”
“Brands need to start treating YouTube as more than just a digital channel. We encourage them to consider YouTube as a television channel in its own right. By reallocating a portion of their TV advertising budget to YouTube, brands can leverage the platform’s incremental reach, which will complement their existing TV strategy while enhancing their digital presence.”

On the ways 3P Media played a role in expanding advertisers’ knowledge of Google Ads:

One of the insights we gained when venturing into the industry was that non-specialized advertisers found Google to be quite daunting. So, our approach was to simplify Google. We organized a series of webinars under the Google 101 banner, in both English and Sinhala, to share knowledge on basic tasks such as setting up a Google account and running and managing Search and YouTube Ads.”
“We also offer more specialized and in-depth sessions tailored to clients who have partnered with us. These sessions delve into technical products like conversion tagging and Google Analytics, which has recently transitioned to GA4. This strategy allows us to play a larger role in growing the Google ecosystem. Through bespoke training, we work closely with our clients to understand their specific needs and craft relevant programmes.”

On the winning formula for advertising on Google or any digital platform:

When creating a digital marketing campaign, it is not about having a large budget; it is about using any budget wisely. The key to successful branding lies in the willingness to learn and understand one’s target audience. By identifying their interests and tailoring messaging accordingly, brands can maintain relevance across digital touchpoints, targeted at the right user with the right message at the right time. Brands need to be adaptable, able to seize opportunities and make necessary changes when something is not working or when audience behaviour and market conditions change. This is the beauty of the agility that digital marketing brings.”
“To truly excel, brands must also focus on providing a seamless, fast and mobile-first user experience. Driving traffic to a website is futile if the booking or purchasing process is subpar, deterring potential buyers. Successful brands prioritize the frontend as well as the backend experience. These brands that attend to the needs of their customers are the ones that thrive.”

On how Roar Global contributes to the growth of Sri Lanka’s digital marketing landscape through its partnerships with platforms:

“What brands are quickly realizing in Sri Lanka is the relevance of social platforms and digital advertising. They have discovered that these platforms allow them to effectively convey tailored messages to their audience based on their interests and insights.  This level of customization is far more relevant and impactful compared to television and radio, which adopt a one-size-fits-all approach and don’t provide accurate data for measurement.”
“Companies also perceive digital platforms as more cost-effective, as they provide greater exposure for the same budget. Instead of spending a substantial amount on a 30-second television commercial, brands can reach more people and generate more impressions through sustained highly targeted digital campaigns.”
“Through our partnerships with top digital platforms, we actively raise awareness of the efficiency and effectiveness of these platforms to our clients and emphasize that digital means offer a more direct connection with the target audience in a manner that engages and resonates with them.”

On Roar Global’s achievements in media sales representation, within Sri Lanka and in current and prospective markets across the APAC region:

“Over the past three years, we have represented Meta through Roar AdX, which also now works with LinkedIn in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and for the last year, we have represented Google through 3P Media. Our performance has consistently exceeded KPIs in our partnerships with both Meta and Google, and this has won the attention of other powerful platforms that have now invited us to explore new markets.”
“This is a remarkable achievement for a company originating from Sri Lanka as we are now trusted to represent these global giants in the region. We have actively embraced this opportunity and are confident in our ability to replicate our success in Sri Lanka in the new markets we venture into. Despite the unique challenges presented by nascent markets, I believe we are well-equipped to adapt our offerings and contribute to their growth. Our track record speaks for itself, and with the unwavering support of our platforms, we are poised to excel in every new endeavour we undertake.”

Read the full interview here.

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