afaqs! news bureau
The Planner’s Special

"Consolidation of services is something that I expect in 2020"

An interview with Mohit Joshi, managing director, India, Havas Media Group. This is a part of the special series of conversations with media agency heads - interview 3 of 31.

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

All our campaigns were very special to me. However, if I have to highlight one, it would be our work on Philips Hue Lighting. For this, we associated with Cricket Live during the ICC World Cup. What impressed me about the campaign was the ROI it generated for our client.

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

Consolidation of services is something that I expect in 2020. We have already consolidated all our offerings under Havas Village. This is a trend that I expect to see across other groups as well. The thin line between creative and media is blurring, especially given the digital/content touch-points we have today. We will still need specialists; however, the overall client approach will become more integrated and inclusive.

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

India is catching up with all global trends fast. The latest example is the OTT revolution. However, if we look at the overall digital consumption, penetration, reach or media spend in India, we’ll find that each one is still lower than it is in many global countries. I would be happy if we could catch up with the global trend of ‘digital first’ in the Indian context.

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 auto category has been under pressure this year and I expect this to continue in the first quarter of 2020. Other infrastructure related categories, like housing, real estate, trucks and developmental equipment, etc., will also continue to be under pressure. Alcoholic beverages is the least affected category.

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

As digital penetration improves in 2020, rural markets will see higher adoption of e-commerce, mobile wallets and OTT platforms.

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

I don’t think there will be a complete solution soon. However it’s time all clients and agencies started deploying tools like IAS, which are able to highlight ad injection, ad stacking, auto refresh, and bot traffic. Brands today are selective about using these services, but if it is made mandatory, media owners will be more accountable. Another such tool, Nielsen DAR, ensures there is a demographic fitment to planned campaigns. This could also help fight ad fraud.

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

More than talent, I would say it’s an attitude that is missing – an attitude of rigour. I feel the new generation – (and many from the old generation!) – has started seeing, evaluating and working at the surface level of things. I am an old school professional; for me, rigour plays a very important role in whatever I do.

I wish clients would...

... start viewing creative and media agencies as their brand and marketing consultants, the way they view Accenture, EY and others.

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.