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Data is at the helm of every business. This was the crux of WPP India’s first-ever ‘Date with Data’ summit in Mumbai which brought together industry leaders, as well as WPP India’s clients, agencies and partners to exchange ideas and insights on data-driven marketing and the use of technology across marketing solutions.

Among the major themes discussed during the day-long summit were data protection, using data in various innovative ways, tapping into consumer data for e-commerce, leveraging data to derive creative inspiration and the evolving role of data with its profound influence on the industry, across all sectors.

Emphasizing the need to handle data responsibly, CVL Srinivas, Country Manager, WPP India said, “The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandates that data is not leveraged without explicit consumer consent. GDPR puts the consumer in the driver’s seat of control, enabling when, where and by whom, his or her data can be leveraged. When GDPR went live, businesses all over Europe had to re-engineer the way they handled data to regain consent from every individual, in order for that data to be used in marketing, analytics or insights.”

He continued, “In India, if we can get our fundamentals right, we’ll be better prepared to look at everything from a data privacy lens and act responsibly.”

Expressing concerns over what the implementation of data protection regulations could mean for marketers in India, Shuvadip Banerjee, VP-Marketing Services, ITC Limited said, “We do not know how much of our ‘golden records’ will remain golden.” Siddharth Banerjee, EVP - Marketing, Vodafone added that enriched data which has been very useful to marketers in drawing insights might take a hit, as a result. “The era of the Wild, Wild West is over,” he said, alluding to the impunity with which consumer data has been used so far. Banerjee said that rewarding customers who share their data would be one way to extract data in the future.

Taking off from where he left, the next panel discussion on ‘Connected Commerce’ had Kashyap Vadapalli, CMO, Pepperfry and Sanjay Suri, CTO, Nykaa share innovative case studies of how consumer data collected online was used to actually shape offline activities, like deciding where to locate stores and warehouses. In a similar vein, Vikas Agnihotri, Country Director, India Sales, Google also went on to list numerous examples of effectively using online data for offline business activities. Google has worked with the government to zero in on locations for the next 30 airports based on tickets searched online and where those searches are originating from. The online search giant is also working with Big Bazaar to locate spaces for the retailer’s next 9000 stores. Interestingly, Google’s data mining has shown that Big Bazaar does not need 9000 stores, but can actually make do with 6600 strategically-placed stores for maximum ROI.

Audience planning and the most appropriate and effective ways to use a Data Management Platform, was the topic of debate at the next panel discussion, which saw Gauravjeet Singh, Head Media, South Asia, Unilever, Vasuta Agarwal, VP and GM, South Asia, InMobi, Rahul Gautam, VP Marketing, Ford India, Karthik Sharma, CEO South Asia, Wavemaker and moderator Sunder Muthuraman, CEO and Global Chief Client Officer, Kantar Analytics deliberate on the importance of a DMP for every marketer which could either reside with the marketer, the agency or a partner like InMobi.

Throwing light on how data can kindle creativity, Kainaz Karmakar, CCO, Ogilvy West, highlighted an example of how a mere data point about the likelihood of a child dying due to diarrhoea or a respiratory disease is connected to hand washing habits, and how this led her and her team to design the awardwinning campaign for ITC Savlon. The campaign won the Grand Prix for Creative Effectiveness at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

Agreeing with Karmakar, Aditya Swamy, Head - Agency Partnerships, Google, noted that while data is being used to fuel creativity, it is the coupling of data with environmental data that can really sway a campaign and take it to the next level.

“I’m sure you will start joining the ‘data dots’ to see a bigger and more beautiful picture emerge at the end of the day,” said Srinivas at the start of the summit. The panellists couldn’t agree more.

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