Mindshare’s Global CEO talks about how India is a key market despite its sluggish growth
Under its new leadership, Mindshare India is working on a planning approach that connects media spends with sales. Nick Emery speaks to Venkata Susmita Biswas about how media agencies are expanding their sphere of influence on CEOs and CMOs, why India is a key market despite its sluggish growth, and more. Edited excerpts:
Mindshare rejigged its leadership last year. Why was that necessary and what has the new team brought to the table?
Together with MA Parthasarathy, CEO, Mindshare, South Asia, we are working on bringing to India all the changes in structure that we are implementing globally. For this, we have identified three big things in the marketing sphere that we, as an organisation, need to respond to. This will involve talking to the CEO or CMO about their structure, their silos, third-party data strategy, the right ecommerce strategy, and how they go to market. That’s something that we can do almost more effectively in India than in any other market, because of our level of relationships with media organisations and clients.
What are the three areas that you have identified?
There has been a pressing desire for all clients to have some response to what they call a digital transformation. In large part, a lot of people wanted it, but didn’t know what that meant. The second opportunity is activation. This is an area where consultancy companies can’t deliver because they don’t have the go-to market ability that we have. We have brutally efficient accuracy at the outcome level. What’s crucial is the integration of media spends with the business outcomes. Our new product called ‘Acceleration’ addresses this challenge for clients. The ambition is that agencies like ours will get paid based on the outcome of the project, rather than a commission.
Why is India a promising market for Mindshare despite the slow growth here?
We always have new versions of marketing challenges, and India has always had its unique challenges: 22 languages, 29 states, massive value for penetration. Now there is the growth of digital, mobile, voice, data and the ability to deliver so much more. Not only is India a disruptive market, but it also has the ability to deliver on that disruption. In the past, India has been a speedily growing, dynamic market, but it has always also been a very traditional media market due to the dominance of TV and print. However, India is now a very dynamic market with a very fluid media scene.
What are the growth areas for Mindshare beyond just media planning and buying?
That depends on how one integrates all elements of marketing. Spends on media is the biggest on most clients’ balance sheets, but if media is limited to traditional channels, it becomes a procurement and a confined exercise.
If ‘media’ encompasses everything in the journey to converting sales on websites, go-to-market strategy, e-commerce and activation, then every message is a medium. That’s how you become the spine of the client’s organisation. It is almost what full-service agencies used to be, but redefined with the inclusion of media buying and planning.
There is probably three or four times as much growth to be derived from offering these solutions as compared to the traditional media business.
Do you have plans to build competencies through acquisitions?
We are always looking particularly in the area of data, activation and e-commerce. The question always is: can they help you change the organisation faster than you could do yourself? Now that WPP is more fluid and agile, it’s much easier to change our organisation compared to earlier.
India is yet to have a unified third-party video measurement system. What can India learn from other markets?
There are some solutions, but they are not consistent or ideal. The desire for a third-party measurement system across digital channels is a universal problem. In its absence, Mindshare and GroupM have implemented their own tools that are better than the industry standards, and we use our own competitive advantage to give our clients better insights than they could get through an industry model. But I agree that it is incumbent upon us, especially with the 40% market share, to drive that law. And, that is on our agenda.