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Business News/ Companies / Have hired more data scientists than any other ad agency: Wavemaker India CEO
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Have hired more data scientists than any other ad agency: Wavemaker India CEO

Wavemaker acquires primary data through QR (quick response) codes, contests etc. It then enhances it to be able to present personalized ads which can be targeted based on geography, language etc. It has about 15 clients for which it manages data strategies.

Ajay Gupte, CEO, South Asia at Wavemaker Premium
Ajay Gupte, CEO, South Asia at Wavemaker

New Delhi: Last year, when WPP group-owned advertising agency Wavemaker India was firming up its hiring plans, it didn’t go out looking for the conventional copywriters, designers or creative directors. More than four-fifths, or over 120 people out of the 150 employees that were hired in FY24 were either data scientists or tech-oriented.

The company said it shifted focus to collecting and analysing customer data more effectively in order to minimise ad wastage, said Ajay Gupte, the company’s CEO for South Asia, who spoke to Mint on the sidelines of the recently-concluded advertising festival GoaFest 2024.

Also read: Digital advertising up 52% in 2022: Report

“Unlike competitors, we began investing heavily in research and technology back in 2017 when we started; we are using a lot of AI (artificial intelligence) now. This is because there are a number of playbooks available for best practices for television advertising, but none for ads for digital mediums. In a way, we are now writing textbooks on how to use data for better digital advertising in our data greenrooms. We buy legal data at every customer touchpoint and see a huge improvement in ad efficiency and click-through rates," he added.

Personalized Ads

Wavemaker acquires primary data through QR (quick response) codes, contests etc. It then enhances it to be able to present personalized ads which can be targeted based on geography, language etc. It has about 15 clients for which it manages data strategies.

Also read: Targeted ads become focal point of digital competition debate

Wavemaker India largely works on ad mandates of FMCG companies and has clients like Luminous, Reckitt Benckiser, Perfetti, and Pernod Ricard, among others. It has had new business wins of about 1,600 crore, retained business worth 1,500 crore and grew at 21% in FY24.

It is now the third-largest business of the company's British parent. Since 2019, it has managed to retain most clients (other than Acko and ITC) and has also won new businesses.

'A decent year for ads'

At an industry level, he said, ad expenditure at an aggregate level is coming back when compared to FY23. “This is going to be a decent year for advertising. Some categories are pegged to grow at 10-12%," Gupte added.

In FY23, India’s adex, or advertising expenditure, amounted to 99,038 crore, growing just 10% from the year prior. In FY22, adex had risen by 15,500 crore, said the Pitch Madison Report 2023. It said that ecommerce continued to be the second-largest category of growth after the FMCG sector.

Consumer Sectors

"There was a genuine challenge in Q1 last year for FMCG companies. Since then, there has been a good recovery, but some fundamental challenges like high input costs still remain. Though not in India, most MNCs are struggling at a global level. And even though India is doing alright, their parent entities may have brought them down. There is also a little bit of general cautiousness in the advertisers as well," Gupte said. "But despite all of these, there is a 6-8% growth in ad spends in the entire FMCG sector and it is not de-growing or flat. The Q4 of FY24, January-March did very well," he said. 

Also read: Unpacking Q4: With green shoots visible, will FMCG stocks finally pick up pace?

Interestingly, this was the first time ever that Reckitt Benckiser became a sponsor for the IPL. He added that rain and heat conditions notwithstanding, the automobile sector has also been strong because all categories within it are doing well.

Since a lot of advertisers spent on the IPL this year, there may be a challenge during the upcoming ICC Men's T20 World Cup in terms of advertising expenditure. "The IPL did well because there were a lot of human stories going on during this year with Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson being at the centre of chatter, unlike earlier IPLs," said Gupte. There are still some carry-over stories from the IPL and emotions involved around players who were playing the IPL and so there may be a rub-off effect on the World Cup, but the demand isn’t as high also because of the two cricketing fixtures being back-to-back.

Also read: Wavemaker India appoints George Kovoor as chief creative officer

Over the years, advertisers have been conditioned to believe that the IPL is a solitary event with instant reach and has become an “impact" advertising property.

He said that at a larger level, it is small and medium enterprises that are advertising more on digital platyforms due to their affordability, whereas FMCG companies spend just about 20-25% of their spends on digital mediums. Automobile and durables and BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance) are far more focused on digital now, spending as much as 45-50% of their advertising budgets there.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Varuni Khosla
Varuni serves as a Senior Assistant Editor at Mint. Her responsibilities encompass crafting compelling narratives that take a deep dive into hospitality companies, the business of art, luxury brands, the intricacies of the business of sports, advertising and marketing landscapes, gaming insights, tourism and travel industry trends. She also covers alcohol commerce. She is skilled at communication, meticulous research, and insightful analysis keeping contemporary shifts and advancements within the lifestyle and business domains at the heart of her work.
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Published: 03 Jun 2024, 04:17 PM IST
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