IAA shows the way forward for emerging agencies

By Ashee Sharma , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | August 10, 2015
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Sam Balsara (Madison World), Amarjit Singh Batra (OLX), Sapna Chadha (Google India) and Srinivasan K Swamy (RK Swamy BBDO) spoke on the challenges and opportunities for emerging agencies at an event organised by the International Advertising Association.

In the midst of fierce competition amongst advertising agencies, International Advertising Association (IAA), in collaboration with Delhi Advertising Club (DAC), organised an event titled 'Emerging Agencies - Challenges and Opportunities' at The Lalit New Delhi on August 7.

The event, sponsored by The Free Press Journal, highlighted the challenges and opportunities that exist in the advertising landscape, particularly for the emerging agencies, in order to narrow down the gap between what agencies are working on, and what the clients actually expect from them. Among the speakers were prominent names from the industry including Sam Balsara (chairman, Madison World), Amarjit Singh Batra (founder and CEO- South Asia, OLX), Sapna Chadha (head - SMB, Google India) and Srinivasan K Swamy (chairman, RK Swamy BBDO).

Sam Balsara

Amarjit Singh Batra

Sapna Chadha

Srinivasan K Swamy

Balsara narrated what he likes to call the "David vs. Goliath story of an advertising agency in India" - the story of Madison World. He advised the emerging agencies, who must compete against global champions today, to "think small if they have to beat the big." To elucidate his theory, Balsara shared some of the core principles that have, over time, evolved as the 'immutable laws of Madison'. These include innovation, domain specialisation, focus on professional goals, organisation building and integration of technology in operations.

Often addressed as 'dotcommers', the online businesses have very different expectations from agencies, and these were simply put forward in a presentation titled "Adworld of the dotcommers," by OLX's Batra. He urged the ad world to treat online businesses differently, because their needs are not the same as traditional brick and mortar companies. "Take us seriously as a business and come to us with insight-driven ideas that are not just creative, but will also help us differentiate our products from others in the online space. Be original, experiment and share the risk with us," he said, addressing the advertising professionals among the audience.

Speaking about 'digital opportunities for agencies' in India, Sapna Chadha of Google India said, "We are witnessing 'moonshots' here." By moonshots, she meant that the growth and change in online trends in the country has been manifold. As per Google's research, the next billion to the three billion internet users worldwide will be added in less than five years by India, Brazil and Indonesia. What's unique about India is the fact that for 65 per cent of users, mobile is the primary internet device. "While the world is mobile first, India is only mobile," stated Chadha.

As the head of SMB, she informed that Google's aim is to bring the 51 million small and medium businesses in India online. To accomplish this task, the company works towards empowering agencies through its 'Google Partners' initiative and the 'Catalyst Programme'. The assistance provided includes basic education, training in online business analytics and, at times, even a co-pitch.

The IAA, headquartered in New York, is an integrated advertising trade association with membership representing advertising agencies and the media. The IAA comprises corporate members, organisational members and educational affiliates, as well as 56 chapters with individual members and young professionals from 76 countries.

Founded in 1969, Delhi Advertising Club claims to have 281 lifetime members and 228 ordinary members who are senior executives from leading organisations, advertising agencies and media properties.

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