Xaxis Outcome Media Company: As the online world continues to evolve so has WPP owned GroupM’s agency Xaxis. Xaxis is now what it calls itself an ‘outcome media’ company as being simply the programmatic platform. The agency claims that it provides business solutions by mapping the customer journey online. What’s more, the agency has managed to deliver programmatic buying on TV as well as on print. In a conversation Arshan Saha, CEO APAC, Xaxis talks about how the agency is delivering solutions across mediums. (Edited Excerpts)
As investment in programmatic continues to grow, compared to other APAC countries, where does India stand?
We see programmatic as automation. For us automation means omnichannel, for example, print, video, TV, out of home (OOH). Our belief is that all of this media will become addressable. Automation of all media will allow mapping the digital footprint of consumers. This will further allow us to target the consumer at the right point, right place at the right time with the right message. In India, over the last two to three years, we have been able to overcome initial challenges. I think we are probably in a life cycle curve in India, learning from a lot of the initial challenges that other markets and had to accelerate the part of moving towards the right part very quickly.
Xaxis is now an outcome media company, what does that mean?
As an outcome media company, the positioning has been redefined to say that we not only bring you a cost-effective marketing strategy, we also aid in increasing your revenue and sales eventually. Revenue and sales are the ultimate destiny of that outcome. But that’s a journey which is possible through consumer engagement across different assets is what takes you there. For instance, when you look at automotive as a segment, the first thing we correlate with digital is leads and retail footprint measurement vis-a-vis lead generation.
So I think this is where it becomes interesting whereby we worked with the automotive client to map the digital footprint of a consumer, starting from the very endpoint that is, sale and moving backward from there. We then try to attribute value towards different touchpoints that a user would engage with in order to give it a purchase intent score. That purchase intent score could involve somebody who went directly and actually for them to test transform, it could involve somebody who had probably three-five engagements over the course of a month or two months on different parts of the assets that they had digitally. It could be somebody who spent a certain amount of time, all of these defined purchase intent. So we give a value we’re using a balanced scorecard of what will all of these elements that define purchase intent for which then became the new measurement of what is governed as a return of investment on ad spend.
In India, programmatic is restricted to digital, while in other countries, it has moved to mediums such as TV, among others. Are GroupM and Xaxis already working on the connected model in India?
I think we are at the cusp of where we are moving towards it. Within our system, we have rolled out programmatic both in TV and print, however, it hasn’t been done not in a skilled manner as of yet. How omnichannel comes into reality on connected TV is via pockets of available inventory. But again that hasn’t happened on that broad scale. Largely, it’s the smart TV that allows us to run programmatic. It is true that a large portion of the population still doesn’t have access to smart TVs, but when looked from the perspective of vehicles of enablement, it has begun.
As for print, a lot of publishers are going through a transformation into becoming fully digital. Hence, the digital assets of their websites or their apps will allow us to then address that consumer. The majority of markets, that have advanced, have already shifted significantly.
Xaxis is working with Nielsen on digital audience measurement, at what stage is that here? Further, how would it be different from the current lot of audience measurement system that is already there in the country?
I think everything in digital, the correlation is it’s measurable. Moreover, there is a little bit of addiction to measurement and sometimes over measurement in digital. Within that addiction, there a need to look at what will be the most defined methodology in order to give the advertiser or define the value that advertisers trying to find. Nielsen is one of the more consistent global measurement metrics, and it’s something that we are tasked to enable in the marketplace. However, for Xaxis it’s beyond just simple metrics. We aim to deliver outcomes for clients that matter to their business and that is the essence of converting ROI to the average ad spend. Hence, that measurement is something that we co-define with an advertiser in the form of a customer outcome.
Have you so far seen a drop in ad spends? Would it be fair to say that it is here that programmatic plays a very crucial role?
As much as we say that the economy is challenged, the appetite for consumption has increased significantly. Similarly, the advertisers’ palette to invest in the market and address consumers has also increased significantly. If you see recently the WPP earnings report, it boasts very highly about the success of what India has brought upon and sort of the growth rates that are projected in the continued growth of digital and advertising as a whole. Beyond this, you have two sets of advertisers- homegrown and multi-national. Then there are a bunch of upcoming advertisers who are flushed with a lot of investment, especially on the digital horizon. Lastly, you have the marketer who has evolved through the course of digital and measurement and I think the term effectiveness, efficiency is in every conversation of advertising. That is why we have also transformed our business from being a programmatic audience company of the past to become an outcome media company in order to move alongside the necessary needs of our clients in addressing that.