SMBs are going to be the growth engine drivers for the future
As advertising spend on digital continues to increase, agencies such WPP owned Mindshare, have embarked on a digital transformation journey. This means preparing brands to move towards a cookieless world, at the risk of not losing a business. In conversation with BrandWagon Online, Amin Lakhani, CEO, Mindshare, South Asia, talks about how Mindshare is setting the agenda for future as it bets big on small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). (Edited Excerpts)
How was business last year? The role of digital in a cookieless world?
The shape of business has dramatically changed for us from pre to post pandemic. This is on the back of consumer movement. We saw consumers moving and trying to do things online, due to content being available online. Further, the pandemic brought in some physical infrastructure challenges as shops weren’t open. But essential services and ecommerce picked up, because that was a safer way to engage.
And all of that put together, what we actually saw was that digital acceleration really took a leap for many of our clients. So much so that our digital spend increased for every client. In fact, for Mindshare, it was turbocharged. The share of digital grew by 10%. We thought that once things open up there would be clients who would move back to the core but digital is holding and growing, and the spends on core have come back. What it means for us is that we have to run really fast- this acceleration of digital adoption has caught up pace. We will continue to drive good growth for our clients.
Under digital transformation, comes the data part. As companies move to transform digitally, there is a move towards capturing first-party data. How would you ensure data remains protected?
We’ve been on the data privacy journey for the last three-four years. And we are quite committed to making sure that we will be the forerunners in making sure that we don’t infringe and will abide by the guidelines and privacy as far as possible. We work with Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) guidelines and Mindshare, on the back of GroupM, is the forerunner into those practices. We follow these for all our clients, wherever they are engaged in data consultancy. Having said that, there is a lot of work that has happened to be ready for the cookieless world. Our data play, in that regard, is gaining more momentum, because we launched Choreograph some time back. It has enabled us to really help clients migrate and prepare themselves appropriately, to be ready for the cookieless world. There is a prioritised work stream that we have initiated on the back of Choreograph via which we are helping clients to migrate or to navigate, or to get ahead in the cookieless world.
As display moves towards programmatic, how would media buying evolve?
The role of programmatic deployment is only going to grow further, there’s no denying that. So like the demand ecosystem is prepping up for the cookieless world, the supply ecosystem such as publishers are also gearing up to create opportunities from the supply side, so that these two can talk to them effectively. This is where the role of programmatic will really jump up. Programmatic is only a deployment mechanism, an algorithm. I’m a great believer that humans create algorithms, programs and machines to help them and I think they will always control that narrative. Machine is only going to help us or enable us to to really unlock the potential that digital deployment is preparing us for. The power of people and their contribution, and their inherent intelligence is the only way that we will grow further.
What are going to be the key pillars of investment for Mindshare and GroupM?
Our ambition as Mindshare is to be a truly integrated marketing solutions company in the country. The underlying word is truly integrated because a lot of people buy traditional media as well as digital. But I think bringing them together is where the magic resides So we’re completely focusing on that. My other focus area is to be a leader in terms of integrating through the funnel deployment. We want to be the leaders of activating through the funnel for the entire consumer journey may it be the upper, middle of a funnel. So, I think we are building very strong capabilities to help us achieve this.
How does small and medium sized enterprise reach out to a giant like GroupM or a Mindshare?
We have more than 250 -260 clients that we that we serve. Our focus is how do we reach out to the next source of growth in the Indian business ecosystem. SMBs are going to be the growth engine drivers for the future. We are taking that very seriously and working towards widening our client base and attract more and more people in that space so that we can partner with them and help them to grow. If you see the growth, new age clients in our agency billing are growing tremendously and while we have the biggies such as Byju’s, not all of them started off with that. We are working very closely with venture capitalists in the new age client ecosystem to really help them and showcase to them the value that we can bring to the table in helping them really reaching out to the consumers and driving the next set of growth.
What about adding manpower or even maintaining one during the pandemic?
We’ve added more people, when compared with 2019. Our plan is to add many more people in 2022. We are searching for good talent and we are building a lot of models to attract, retain and to train and upskill our talents to be able to meet the need and to really, really help our clients grow effectively and well. That’s where we are.
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