New Delhi: Tim Castree, global CEO of Wavemaker, the media, content and technology agency created after the merger of GroupM’s traditional media businesses MEC and Maxus, was in India on his maiden visit to meet the team, better understand the market and connect with clients. “Last year, I was consumed with the merger but this year I want to understand one of our fastest growing markets globally," he said.

Globally, Wavemaker handles blue-chip clients such as Colgate-Palmolive, Vodafone, Viacom, Paramount Pictures, L’Oreal and Netflix. In India, the agency services clients like Hero Motocorp, Paytm, Indian Premier League (IPL), Tata Global Beverages and Myntra among others. In an interview, Castree talks about businesses which are driving growth for Wavemaker, the challenges being faced by media agencies and key consumer trends in India. Edited excerpts:

Which areas have you identified for Wavemaker’s growth?

It includes e-commerce, content, sports marketing, analytics and insights practice, performance marketing and programmatic business where we are heavily investing.

How important is the India market for Wavemakwer?

India is our fifth biggest market globally, growing at 13%. Our top eight markets contribute 70% revenue to our overall business and India is definitely one of the key contributors. While globally some of the markets have showed sluggish growth, India is fast pacing in terms of growth of e-commerce and digital advertising which is growing at 35% here.

What is the biggest challenge media agencies are facing today?

The main challenge is the commoditization of the business; agencies are under tremendous price pressure. There is strong competition which includes the role of tech giants like Google and Facebook and their efforts to disintermediate the agencies. It also includes consultancies like Deloitte and E&Y trying to take a pie of the media business. There’s also a pressure from clients procurement side to keep pushing the processes down. There’s a lot that media agency businesses are grappling with.

How do brands create more engagement online?

Brands have to act different on digital than how they act on television. Digital is where personalization, audience targeting and creative optimization comes into play. Brands have to customize their messages according to the digital platforms. What works on Facebook will not work on Snapchat.

I think hotel chain Marriott International drives personalization by picking up data on the type of customer you are, which brands you are loyal to and purchase journey. They send messages based on where the customer is and therefore get significantly higher return on investment (RoI). Most global businesses like P&G, Unilever, Viacom, Paramount Pictures and Vodafone have got their digital strategy right

Television continues to be a strong medium in India. Do you see that changing anytime soon?

Television is entirely relevant and not just in India, it is a massive value contributor to brands all over the world. In some cases, television is a massive growth driver, however, for brands that target young demographic it is of less influence. The relevance of television depends on the advertiser, country they operate in and the target audience.

I would say that television is a powerful driver of purchase consideration, direct response performance and driving digital metrics like engagement and click through rates. Apart from TV, there is a resurgence of cinema advertising which is expected to witness double digit growth in India. Good quality films and infrastructure will further aid this growth. There is big resurgence in outdoor advertising as well which reaches smallest of the towns. Then, there are retail shops which helps brands to reach consumers in small villages.

How do brands create more engagement online?

Brands have to act different on digital than how they act on television. Digital is where personalization, audience targeting and creative optimization comes into play. Brands have to customize their messages according to the digital platforms. What works on Facebook will not work on Snapchat.

I think hotel chain Marriott International drives personalization by picking up data on the type of customer you are, which brands you are loyal to and purchase journey. They send messages based on where the customer is and therefore get significantly higher return on investment (RoI). Most global businesses like P&G, Unilever, Viacom, Paramount Pictures and Vodafone have got their digital strategy right.

Any interesting consumer trends specific to India market that you can share with us?

Video is the biggest trend. People are watching short form of video content on digital which may range between four to eight minutes. It is the sweet spot for brands to target their audiences. Secondly, the attention spans of the viewers are getting shorter which is why the length of television ads is coming down. People don’t watch 60 to 90 seconds long ads anymore. Therefore, I feel it is crucial to bring the brands upfront in the ads.

Close