Starcom Digital, the online media agency formed by the Rs 200-crore Leo Burnett India, and PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) have soft-launched the first of their three key e-service initiatives for the financial sector. "The service is meant to help clients who want to get into financial transactions on the Net," says Atul Phadnis, associate media director, strategy, Starcom and head, Starcom Digital. "It also targets people who are in the business but are not making expected monies, not getting enough high-value customers, not getting enough transactions per customer, or if their competitors are doing better."
This may perhaps be the first time in India that an advertising agency and a management consultancy have joined hands on the Internet space. It follows the August 2000 decision of the two parties to work on a joint offering. Phadnis explains how the idea came about. "Today if a client is looking at a business, he conceives of an idea and then wants a consultant to do business model projections, revenue projections, and so on. Once it is activated, he would then look at Starcom Digital to carry that business forward by spreading awareness, getting more customers, ensuring loyalty," he elaborates. "But we have always noticed that it makes more sense if the two entities managing pre- and post-activation are in touch with each other."
The two first came in touch with each other around July last year when Starcom began scouting for a partner. "We checked in the marketplace to see who the best players in the field were
if we wanted to build an expertise. PwC was doing a lot of work on this front and even they had felt the need for an agency like ours in helping build a business," recalls Phadnis. A Joint Working Group was set up in August - that is when Starcom Digital was born - comprising members of the agency and PwC.
What Starcom digital brings to the table are essentially a series of international online planning tools developed by Starcom IP, the mother online agency head-quartered in Chicago. They are meant to assess the market, the kind of inputs required online, the kind of online advertising to get into, enhancing an ongoing online campaign, and finally, post-evaluations. The tools cover different stages and aspects of online campaigns, be it research based, customer acquisition based or online advertising.
The partnership intends to offer services in three sectors. While Phadnis refused to name the two proposed sectors, it is learnt that the two are looking at consumer durables next. It has begun with financial services because of two reasons. One, the sector scores high in terms of the volume of transactions carried out on the Net. Two, since September 2000, Starcom has been handling ICICI Web Trade, clearly one of the bigger participants on the Internet in India. It comprises ICICI Direct - India's largest online share-trading portal - and ICICI Connect, a transaction enabled portal offering all ICICI products.
Recently, Starcom also bagged ICICI Worryfree which will start services shortly. Phadnis refused to divulge any details of ICICI's new offering except that it will be a financial-transactions gateway. With WorryFree, Starcom Digital has bagged the entire ICICI Web Trade umbrella. Till last news came in, Starcom Digital was on the verge of signing up two more clients.
Starcom Digital claims that it will improve its market share in online advertising (controlled by media agencies) from 20 per cent in the year 2000 to 40 per cent in 2001. To put things into perspective, of the Rs 30-odd crore online advertising pie in the year 2000, only 16 per cent was being controlled by media agencies. In 2001, while the size of online advertising is expected to grow to around Rs 60 crore, the share of media agencies is expected to go up to 25 per cent.
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