Having celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016, global digital agency iProspect (belonging to the Dentsu Aegis Network) is charting a course to meet its high targets in 2017. With the acquisition of several businesses like Merkle, Jyro and John Brown Media internationally, the company is geared up to propel performance marketing solutions to help clients solve challenges in the digital economy. BrandWagon’s Chandni Mathur catches up with iProspect’s
Ruth Stubbs to learn about the changes in the network and its India strategy going ahead. Edited excerpts:
How is iProspect gearing up for FY18?
Relationships with our clients have never been more important. We want to make sure that the role iProspect plays in evolving our global clients’ representation within the group is our number one priority. We believe that we are a digital first organisation and what we can contribute will help some of our top clients like
Adidas, Mondelez, Diageo, etc to solve challenges that they may have when facing the digital economy. We have already started that journey, moving from a very transactional relationship to a more solution-focussed approach.
We might sell 12 products but what we want to do is to create a solution that can address some very important challenges that our clients face… like developing new revenue streams if you are a hotel group, helping sell more stuff online if you are a retailer, etc.
What are some of these solutions being rolled out?
These solutions have been categorised. One of them is Intelligent Content which allows us to involve other agencies in the group. It was developed when we bought the British publication company John Brown Media in 2015. We rolled it out in many markets and it allows us to create content that converts. It takes the principles of SEO, the best practices that we have evolved in amplification through performance channels and the content that John Brown Media develops, and optimises it.
If you look at our core solutions that use any of our combination of 12 products and sister agencies, there is Intelligent Content which is a retail solution, insights from Co-Op, Enterprise and Consult. That gives us a good depth of insight into a client’s business.
What potential do you see to launch iProspect’s Consult practice in other emerging markets?
It is silly for us to push a product in a market that isn’t ready. For example in Paris, the way the Consult team is working with L’Oréal is exceptionally sophisticated. In the UK and Australia, they are doing it in the retail space. But I am very hesitant to introduce it in a market like Brazil because those guys are establishing themselves now as a leader in performance and their way is similar to what was in developed markets five years ago.
We have created a more streamlined infrastructure at a global level, and we will be replicating that on five regional levels across APAC, Latin America, EMEA, the UK-Ireland and North America. I think we need to be able to respond a bit more quickly to our global clients, sister agencies and group so our structure is more streamlined and everybody does everything. But we will give it six months to see how it’s going.
Where does India fit into your overall strategy going ahead?
From a revenue and profit perspective, India is very important. The way India contributes to the group is invaluable when it comes to innovation and strategically developing a client portfolio. There are three markets that offer interesting aspects to the group: India — for its innovation, category expertise and the way it develops solutions that are scalable; The Netherlands which is similar; and Israel where we acquired a business which also has a very different way of managing big clients like Google.
How do you see your agency’s approach to digital marketing change with data and measurement being key?
We have a heritage in search. We use data to get better at targeting and transform businesses. That’s why we are excited about 2017 because finally, everyone is interested. We have a group Dentsu Data Strategy that iProspect has been instrumental in developing. The partnerships and access to data we have with Google and Facebook allow DAN to create a differentiated data strategy.
Last year, when we acquired Merkle, it was the icing on the cake. It is a CRM business that has 225 million personally identifiable bits of information in a big database. When it markets to its clients, it knows exactly who it is talking to. It has a platform called M1 that will slowly be integrated across the group fuelled by its product data source.
Measurement has been the talk of the town. What is iProspect’s delivery to brands on board on this aspect to increase audience activation?
We are a performance business for a reason. We let clients evaluate themselves if we did what we had set out to do. The biggest challenge digital faces is that some of the people buying digital unfortunately do not understand it.
There are people who are masters and love the complexity around digital and they are the ones that scare big brands off. Another pillar in our recalibration is to simplify what we do to convert and drive further adoption for the solutions we are proposing.
Is mobile emerging as the primary screen for shoppers?
The issue we face with some clients is that their mobile sites are not optimised to enable purchase easily. Streamlining the user experience is the biggest stumbling block and we are a mobile first business because of the nature of our offering. And when you think about the fact that more than 50% of queries are through mobile, and more than 20% of queries are through Google and voice, it is crazy.
The role of mobile is omnipresent; the sophistication of smartphones in retail situations offers massive opportunities to clients to develop unique, differentiated propositions in cluttered categories. For example, in clothing with brands like H&M, Zara, etc, or sports apparel like Adidas and Nike, the role of search and performance from a marketing perspective is really creative. The role of mobile has never been more important.