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‘With big data, demographic definitions are losing relevance’

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Mindshare APAC made a clean sweep at the Smarties APAC 2014, bagging Agency of the Year among other awards. The agency has also been in the news for its partnership with big data company Crayon Data. On his recent visit to Mumbai, R Gowthaman, COO, Mindshare APAC tells Henna Achhpal why mobile is yet to be utilized to the optimum in the India market and how big data is eventually going to nudge demographic definitions out of the picture


Q] This year, Mindshare APAC has been recognized for its work in mobile marketing. How is mobile revolutionizing marketing in India?

Mobile as a medium is yet to be utilized as it ought to be in this market. There are some flashes of adoption but the true potential is yet to be realized. While mobile gives reach, the identity of the user is still not clear. It is a global problem and different markets are handling it in a different manner. Wherever there is smartphone adoption, people are moving towards apps. Through apps, the identity of the user is clearer which enables marketers to target the consumer better. In the Indian market, we are not yet utilizing location based advertising or geo-targeting. Technologically advanced markets such as Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, have geo-based targeting and are able to serve ads according to the customer’s location which is a lot better and sharper.


Q] How is Mindshare looking to adopt the medium better in this market?

At a fundamental level, we are looking at utilizing big data that is available in the marketplace for better consumer understanding and targeting. Online behaviour is a better method to target consumers than demographic definitions which are losing their relevance in the marketplace significantly. We recently partnered with Crayon Data to develop interest graphs of a brand or consumer. This is important to leverage mobile better. On the basis of one’s online behaviour through the mobile phone, I will be able to get a better picture of the individual and with available big data in the marketplace, I will be able to reasonably predict what kind of a person you are and use that to serve communications to you in a different manner. We believe that’s the future. Even the large portion of the population in India that still uses feature phones can be targeted based on their behaviour patterns such as talktime usage, downloads, location – a wealth of data which is available with telecom operators. The way we see the business evolving is three types of data: enterprise data that is residing with the telcos or the clients themselves; publicly available anonymous data such as a consumer’s behaviour; and media data about what they consume, programmes, choices. Our partnership with Crayon Data helps us to relate all these three types of data together to create what we call an individual’s graph.


Q] How do you see mobile and digital integrating with traditional media?

We have to rechristen the terms we use in the media plan. The world is moving towards calling them as blocks, short form AV, text, long form AV, videos – that’s the way a consumer sees it. A consumer doesn’t see it as a TVC or an ad any longer. You get influenced by somebody’s blog, that’s literature. It’s not a Print ad. We have to re-orient people to these new formats. On mobile, it’s not just about TVCs, it’s about videos. We are moving away from one TVC format, or one print ad to multi-format across text, blogs, posters, rich media, short form and long form.


Q] How do you change a client’s mindset in such a scenario?

It’s not an easy job. The reason I have come here is exactly for this and I have met all the top clients, to talk to them about big data, progress we have made and about multi-format communication. There is surely an acceptance but we need to change the matrix of success. Today, the ROI of a TV plan is declining, as well as the impact of GRPs on sale and on awareness. There is a general discomfort that investment is not giving the right ROI. What I have been telling them is that in the absence of anything else, try this and do some pilots. If this works, then we have benchmarks and norms which we can build on and develop. Industry benchmarks and norms can only be developed through pilots.


Q] What is your overview of Mindshare in India?

Two-thirds of our business is global clients and half or one-third are regional clients. In general I think we have done a good job barring the EMVIES. That hurts me definitely. There are many reasons and we have done our introspection. The answer clearly lies in spending more time in unearthing insights better. We have to spend more time in execution than in results.


Q] What learnings from the overall APAC region can be applied to India?

Digital as a medium is becoming an empire by itself. Wherever we are witnessing this catharsis, we have brought Digital back into mainstream because search and social media help in consumer understanding. It is not that somebody will do social listening and the main media planner will do TV planning on his own, the line has to merge. Success has happened wherever we have collapsed this.


A huge amount of focus is being given to content marketing and the world is moving towards it because of its multi-format nature. It is no longer about TVCs but about native advertising. The content format that one should use for a particular campaign is something that this market will have to learn from other developed markets.


So digital services coming to mainstream client servicing, content marketing and big data are three big things which India has to apply.


Q] Tell us about the Loop which was introduced by Mindshare earlier this year.

We have 57 Loop rooms across the world today; two in India, at Mumbai and Delhi. The primary objective of the Loop room is to break down the silos across digital, creative, media, and social media agencies. All of them are doing different jobs for the same client, same brand, and if I have to look at marketing communications across texts, blogs, short-form, long-form and poster, I cannot have so many people in the ecosystem doing their own thing but not seeing the picture together. Loop room helps us bring them in the same room. If you look at the Loop room architecture, there is a paid screen, owned screen, earned screen and there is a context so whatever is happening in the media today is a context and we understand the paid investments, what is happening in the owned space along with assets and whatever is happening in the earned space. Loop room helps us establish a relationship between paid media, owned and earned media for the context. In India, Loop room is still in the testing mode and not in a campaign management mode. But it has definitely opened the eyes of clients and our own teams and suddenly you have creative, media and social agencies sitting together and understanding something is going wrong here.


Q] What are your plans for the growth of Mindshare APAC?

I have three priorities. One is how do we manage big data for the betterment of the industry and Mindshare. Second is looking at the entire marketing ecosystem in a wider angle. In my view, Mindshare can play a much larger role in simplifying this for the CMO in bringing things together and break it down to three or four buckets – understanding business, understanding consumer, the big idea and the paid, owned and earned plan and use Loop room to measure and evaluate. I am pushing the system to look at the larger marketing ecosystem and not just look at media planning. I cannot do everything myself so that logically leads to my third priority, which is to find like-minded partners. So data, marketing ecosystem and partnerships is what I think I should do for a living.


Feedback: henna@exchange4media.com

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