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Media agencies today find themselves in a situation where clients are demanding more from them than ever before. A competitive, dynamic market, the emergence and growth of big data, greater need for customization, and growing consumer demands have forced media agencies to re-look at the existing model and seek future-ready solutions for clients and consumers. As Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO- South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network puts it, the agency model has come a long way from the time that he first started his career, a time when the industry was in an ‘era of generalists.’ He reminisces about the years when he started out. “As a client servicing person or as an account executive, you could be taking a media brief one day and a creative brief the next,” he remarks. “Then life changed with specialization coming in. Today we are in an era of super specialization. If it is a Digital requirement from the client, they will speak to the best Digital expert. Even within the Digital space, the client can choose to speak to an expert in perhaps social media or search optimization. In the process, the various functions become fragmented,” he explains.
One of the things agencies must consider while offering the benefit of specialization, is doing away with silos. As marketers move towards greater transparency in the advertising and media planning process, they are also demanding that agencies simplify processes while still delivering a complex array of marketing services, specific to their needs. They want to cull agency line-ups, using fewer agencies or at least a single agency or entity to lead the advertising and media planning function. One of the agencies that seems to already be working in that direction is Bhasin’s Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN). Bhasin explains the way his agency model functions. “We introduced the One DAN solution that provides all the benefits of specialization, without the hassles of silos. We took the best agencies in each sphere and brought them under the One DAN umbrella. So for example, for Search and Performance, we have agencies like Sokrati and iProspect. For Out of Home, we have Posterscope and Milestone. Such a model means that I am not bound to push only Television or Print or Digital or Outdoor. As per the brand need, I can put together a team for the client and provide the best of those specialists, all under one umbrella,” he tells us.

Brands, too, are looking at agencies that will consolidate services, offering a host of integrated offerings under one portfolio. Explaining that marketers today operate in a very different world, Atul Garg, Head, Marketing, E-commerce and Visual Merchandising, Baggit India, points out, “For a retail brand like ours, we look at the kind of traffic generated, the people who got enrolled for CRM, and the convergence that took place, as a result. Moreover, we also look at a whole lot of parameters to determine an agency’s effectiveness. Agencies need to offer more than what they did traditionally, actually impacting business and sales objectives of the brand. That is when a brand can genuinely measure ROI.”

While agencies are grappling with the rapid changes in consumer behaviour and media consumption, most of them still work in silos when it comes to offline and online strategy. As media landscapes and consumer journeys evolve, the ability to zoom in on consumer data, which is actionable and has the ability to fuel powerful stories will be a valuable one for agencies to cultivate. A spokesperson from Marico points out that the media planning process needs to become platform agnostic. “With the consumer purchase journey having changed dramatically, media is no longer restricted to driving only the upper funnel metrics for brands. Digital plays an increasingly important role in being able to do so, but now more than ever, media agencies need to ensure journey planning is orchestrated to maximize the effectiveness of the multiple touch points where brands interact and engage with their consumers going forward. Taking this a step forward, agencies need to be structurally ready to partner with brands on their ability to handle the everincreasing data deluge, to be able to jointly build data strategy.”
“One of the things that we did differently as compared to others, which I think has really worked very well for us, is what we call the ‘One P&L, One DAN’. We took the best agencies in each sphere and brought them under the One DAN umbrella. This journey started ten years ago with 40 or 50 people, but today we are 3,500 people. So for example, if Carat has done very well but DAN India doesn’t meet its numbers, then even Carat will not get its bonus. All our bonuses are linked. We sink or swim as a team. We put our money where our mouth is.”

Chairman & CEO- South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN)

“A lot has been spoken and written about the quantum and velocity of change in our industry in the past few years. It has obviously created unprecedented complexity and challenges. But much more than that, I believe it has created opportunity like never before. To understand consumers like never before. To give them brand experiences like never before. To impact real business and profitability like never before. Powering all this is the explosion of data and the incredible convergence of media.”

President, Product & FAST- South Asia, Mindshare

“We have moved to an integrated and collaborative model of ‘Better Together’ where we offer integrated solutions to our clients be it Media, Digital or Creative. We believe in building meaningful brands by inspiring meaningful connections between people and brands, which in turn generate business results.”

CEO, India & South Asia, Havas Media Group

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