I absolutely believe that the digital product out of India is at par with the best in the world and in many cases, even better. We are an incubator of digital talent.
The year 2016 saw Publicis Media deliver double-digit growth and the recent re-launch of the network’s brand identity generated new cheer among its agencies. Looking positively at 2017, after winning businesses like Parle Products, Fox Network and Toyota India, Zenith India’s Tanmay Mohanty talks to BrandWagon’s Meghna Sharma about the agency’s three growth pillars, how they have worked in an integrated cross-media scenario, and what is the way forward with the advent of technology across platforms. Edited excerpts:
With the re-launch of the network’s brand identity, proposition and platforms, what message is the group sending out?
There is a lot more to the media business today than just being present at the negotiation table. The discipline is now much more about data, technology, knowledge, insights and capabilities. Our new approach and new identity redefines and reframes RoI; it is a distinctive positioning which aims at driving topline growth. Our RoI+ approach focusses on the full consumer journey, delivering capabilities that truly fuel creativity. We are keeping the Zenith name. RoI remains our DNA.
Blue is still our primary colour. Everything else has evolved, so we are ideally placed to exploit opportunities of the future and deliver brand growth. Zenith’s new logo is the distinctive ‘peak’; it points the way for brand growth. It has always been a symbol of RoI. However, framing the client challenge with our capabilities is critical to our new approach, so we re-imagined our logo as a frame, one that we wrap around objects and images — a visual representation of framing the client challenge.
Can you elaborate on the RoI+ and how the new approach is designed to solve business challenges?
We have rewired our approach to suit the changing times. Zenith used to have a roadmap approach to planning; this no longer supports our ambitions or our client needs. We now have an approach with three pillars. Our first pillar is our ability to create upstream strategies that delivers business transformation. Our RoI+ approach leverages the expertise we have in building capabilities for clients. For example, in ad tech consulting, our upstream strategic development is greatly enhanced through RoI+.
Second, is our focus on the full consumer journey to deliver more effective communications strategies. In our consumer experience work, RoI+ helps us to shape a more holistic approach that can take advantage of people-based and platform-based marketing. Third, is our approach to maximise downstream efficiencies. RoI+ enables us to apply sophisticated automation through AI and machine learning techniques. Last year, we announced a world’s first in automating digital planning through machine learning. Personalisation at an individual level is generating massive data and we will scale up in this area.
Compared to other nations in APAC, where does India stand when it comes to digital products and services offered by media agencies, as digital still faces issues like a lack of standardised measurement?
I absolutely believe that the digital product out of India is at par with the best in the world and in many cases, even better. We are an incubator of digital talent; we do a lot of global work out of here. For instance, India is among the top performing markets within the Performics global network. The debate on ad viewability, measurability and accountability is not restricted to India, is it? The industry has to move on transactions based on impact. But for that, there has to be an agreement on what ‘impact’ really connotes — how much viewable time is required for an ad to make an impact?
Who will bear the additional costs of new measurement and monitoring systems, undertaken by a neutral body? What constitutes as neutral? These issues exist globally, and are not restricted to India. We have robust tracking mechanisms in-house. A lot of digital impact and measurability depends on the initiative taken by the advertiser. Many financial services clients or e-commerce clients track to the very last mile on performance marketing. However a lot of technologies are from the West and so the cost can be prohibitive to smaller advertisers.
With client requirements becoming more sophisticated, going from the vanilla variety to more expertise-based solutions, how does the group plan to offer a competitive advantage? What are the challenges here compared to APAC and the West?
Data is fast becoming the new oil of the world. It is data, the ability to gather data and the ability to interpret data which will determine the success of enterprises. Marketing needs to get more predictive and run in real-time. There is greater diversity in India versus the rest of the world. The price-savvy versus the indulgent consumer. Traditional versus contemporary.
You can call this a challenge or you can call this an opportunity. I go with the latter. What defines us is our stronghold on consumer insights; we have the pulse of the market. It is a great strong point for us. One challenge though that comes to mind is the technological infrastructure which needs to keep up with the needs of Digital India.
With more than six months since demonetisation, how is the AdEx estimate faring?
Even with fresh estimates out, a 7.1% GDP growth in 2016-17 is still a healthy growth rate. Consumer sentiment is getting back to normal and media spends in India will continue to be buoyed by expansion in regional print and television. Categories such as mobile wallets, telecom 4G, mobile handsets, FMCG and consumer durables will step up their spends.
As India gets digitised, there will be more opportunities to tap into audiences and media spends will only peak. Digital remains one of the fastest growing mediums in India today registering a 30% growth rate. With sustained remonetisation, we do not expect any major long term impact on consumption or advertising. We still remain one of the faster growing economies on the world stage.