Priti Murthy, President of GroupM Services India, who is now heading the group’s newly launched Nexus, speaks about her role for the first time in nine months since she joined the company in 2021.
In a candid conversation with IMPACT, Murthy calls this new entity a “big transformation agent” for all GroupM agencies.
While she doesn’t give interviews often, Priti Murthy, who took over a new role in October 2021, finally opened up about heading Nexus, which she fondly calls ‘the secret service of GroupM.’
“The idea is to bring in more intelligence to the way we work and handle media business,” said Murthy, likening it to the kind of work done by fund managers, like hyper-specialization and keen analytic research, across various kinds of funds.
“So you have non-biddable assets (print, TV, radio and direct digital buy-ins) and biddable assets (search, social and programmatic). Each of these fields, as well as their integration, brings value to the clients. What GroupM did was to look at the agencies and thrive on their design thinking and focus on demand generation,” she said.
“GroupM Nexus ensures that funds bring in the ROI. This means the right media plans are delivered and right optimizations are done; and it’s a team of specialists doing that job, taking away the generalist conversations in these teams,” said Murthy. For instance, e-commerce clients will be dealt with by the e-commerce team, who are already armed with the specific knowledge, technology and other assets to be able to deliver the best possible results.
But how is this different from what internal e-comm teams deliver? Murthy explained that Nexus works in tandem with the client for those deliverables, and with their specific teams, to get the best possible result.
“Nothing has changed for the client. As I said, it’s the secret service. It is the engine of GroupM that ensures that client deliverables are enhanced and not compromised. So for the agency, it is the same face, same team, same planners, and a backend. It’s just that the way that backend works has been transformed,” said Murthy.
She explained that earlier, each agency had its implementation team, but now, these teams are coming together without compromising on clients’ specific needs and plans. “Those are very well protected,” she emphasised.
Does that mean every plan and deliverable would now go through Murthy irrespective of which WPP agency ( Mindshare, Wavemaker, Mediacom etc) is handling the client?
To this, Murthy laughed and noted that she has a team of around a thousand people this year, and the numbers are set to increase.
“The good thing is that being part of GroupM, infrastructure, capacity building, and technology including AI/ML, are built into this team. This allows for non-replication of work, efficiency in execution, timeline management and more,” said Murthy, noting that the company has a lot of D2C clients who have ever-evolving needs that can change on a dime.
But where did the need for such a service come from? Murthy says it was all planned way back in 2008 and has finally been executed now.
“The vision was set out in 2008 at a time when digital wasn’t that big and the scale wasn’t that big. From then till now, there were different learnings we had in the system and Mindshare had led through their CMP for the TV side of the business,” said Murthy, adding that this is when AI tools were developed, all of which was coming together to form the core of Nexus.
It is also believed that the move is to entail movement in the upper echelons of agencies after the ‘great Indian resignation’ set post-pandemic. Murthy agrees that these initiatives will help retain talent and leadership.
On a personal note, Murthy said she was excited by the transformation agenda. “If leaders feel stagnated in their transformation agenda, they move out or move in, as the case may be. But I also think one shouldn’t get hassled. We as an industry have a massive talent pool across the board, not just in GroupM.”
“This year we hired 200 people at the entry-level, next year we’ll hire 300 people. I’m building capability infrastructure, so these aren’t resignation countermeasures. Rather, I am looking ahead of the curve to train specialization mindsets in the agencies,” said Murthy, while noting that this had had a positive result on attrition rates.
Countering the belief that the industry, especially the new talent, was pivoting towards digital and ignoring other media, especially TV, Murthy said that her team was transforming the way people look at TV.
“Planning for TV has changed. It’s true that now we have the gaming generation who are all about technology solutions and platforms. That’s what we’ve done with TV. We’ve created AI tools and solutions to address audience understandings and other solutions,” she said.
“The pace of transformation and adoption is very fast, and we’re not sitting on the laurels of the past. That’s what excites me as does the aggressive investment into technology and acquisitions which allows us to leapfrog ahead,” concluded Murthy.