afaqs! news bureau
The Planner’s Special

"An emerging trend is the birth of the 'Integrated Planner'"

An interview with Navin Khemka, CEO, Mediacom South Asia. This is part of a special series of conversations with media agency heads - interview 17 of 31.

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

While we had some fantastic campaigns over the year, my personal favourite is our #ShavingStereotypes ‘Barbershop Girls’ campaign for Gillette; it is our effort to empower girls to take up a ‘male’ profession and become role models for the nation. India needs more gender neutral roles and this is a step in the right direction.

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

A big emerging trend is the birth of the ‘Integrated Planner’. I think the digital versus non-digital divide within agencies will need to disappear. Agencies have to be ready for this change by up-skilling or re-skilling their current employees. I know for a fact that most agencies are far from ready and need to be concerned and excited about this change that’s coming.

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

I think the dominance of programmatic, in the way campaigns are being delivered, will catch up fast. This is led by advanced data and machine learning, as more and more people are getting into the digital space.

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?

I would say any high involvement category, where the average cheque size required to fulfil the purchase is large, has been affected by this slowdown. So, categories like auto, real estate, luxury goods, etc. are among the ones affected. On the other hand, categories like FMCG (with GST rationalisation), online companies (with new startups and funding), and education (fuelled by the aspirations of the middle class), are the ones driving growth.

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

Rural India has slowed down in consumption as compared to urban India. Farm distress and stagnant incomes have eroded demand. However, this is expected to be reversed early this year.

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

The solution will continue to come from tools like IAS, MOAT, Double Verify, etc. and their upgraded versions.

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

We need media agnostic, integrated account planners, who can give a holistic solution across all media touch-points. We have more specialisations today and we need to integrate our skillsets.

I wish clients would...

Always motivate the agency to put in 150 per cent effort and recognise the business results that follow.

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.