afaqs! news bureau
The Planner’s Special

“Agencies that embrace automation and streamline data will benefit”

An interview with Tanmay Mohanty, CEO, Zenith India & Head, Global Partnerships, Publicis Media India. This is part of a special series of conversations with media agency heads - interview 31 of 31.

What, in your view, was your agency's best campaign of 2019? What about it impressed you?

It was our ‘Ask Nestlé’ campaign, India’s first corporate nutritional counselling brand campaign, led by an AI-based chatbot on the Google Home system. This application was built using rich first-party data that informed Nestlé about the nutritional needs of its customers, which were answered in real time. The objective was to strengthen Nestlé’s credentials as a leading nutrition, health and wellness company, by helping parents choose the right meal plan for their children.

There are about 2,00,000 searches happening around nutrition in India every day. ‘Ask Nestlé’ came as a digital rostrum for anxious mothers. It was launched on kids channels on TV, to ensure mass reach. In print, we used a creative that talked to parents with kids. We also used the biggest reach platform on digital – the YouTube masthead. The acquisition and remarketing strategy included online parenting platforms.

In 2020, what is that big trend that ought to concern or excite media agencies?

The biggest opportunity today is the ability of a brand to create unique experiences for each customer, at scale. With the right technology, agencies are better able to meet this need and tell compelling stories.

In the context of media planning/buying, what's the one global practice/trend India will do well to catch up with fast?

Agencies that embrace automation and streamline data have a clear advantage moving forward. We are exploring automation for marketing optimisation, product recommendation, dynamic pricing, customer retention, personalisation at scale, and work flow management. This, in the coming year, will create better planning, execution and operational rigour, across agencies.

From a media spend perspective, which product groups do you suppose will be most affected by the economic slowdown that has crept up on us - and least?

The global economic slowdown and the corona virus are impacting, both global and domestic economies alike. This is affecting both consumption and supply. The supply chain disruption will affect commerce, electronics, high value products and travel. Consumers from all parts of the country, including urban areas, are spending drastically less on essential food items which is going to affect the CPG (consumer packaged goods) category as well.

And within that, what consumption trends are you seeing in rural versus urban markets?

We see a sharp contrast in the rural versus urban story, when it comes to non-food related spending. The urban market seems to be doing well still. This is also reflected in automobile, health and retail consumption.

In the next 12 months, the solution to the digital ad fraud menace will come from…

Ad fraud is more of a by-product of demand and pricing. There are too many SSPs (supply side platforms) sprouting up and this has led to a lot of fraudulent products and companies that use these platforms to make a quick buck. In India, given that OTT pricing is higher than TV, we will definitely see a play of these fraudulent elements here, as they try to skip off the top margin.

What kind of specialisation/talent is missing in media agencies today?

The analytical ones.

I wish clients would...

… think long-term.

Note: This interview was conducted for the mid-March edition of our magazine afaqs!Reporter. It is a special issue dedicated to the top media planning and buying executives, who service some of India's largest advertisers. Market conditions have changed dramatically since this interview was first written and any apparent obsoletion therein must be seen in that context. To read/download all 31 interviews, please click here.