afaqs! news bureau
The Planner’s Special

“I wish clients would set joint KPIs and work collaboratively”

An interview with Vanita Keswani, CEO, Madison Media Sigma. This is part of a special series of conversations with media agency heads - interview 16 of 31.

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

The 60-year Fevicol campaign was one of the most memorable ones because of the way we approached it from a media point of view. We had long duration 90 second and 60 second ad films. Digital platforms were used innovatively and effectively. We showcased the ad films as OTT content rather than as advertising. The click through rates, performance and post campaign results surpassed our expectations.

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

In 2020, media agencies must be excited to excite advertisers about their media plans through transformation, which includes digital transformation and integrated communication planning. It is getting increasingly important to excite advertisers with new media thinking and prove that it works.

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

Agencies would do well to embrace digitisation more holistically through training, insight development and partnerships.

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?

‘Want’ (versus ‘Need’) product categories are most affected by the economic slowdown. Overall, high luxury sub-categories are more affected, for example, the high value homes category is losing but low value homes are gaining within real estate.

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

In the last seven years, this is the lowest (consumption) we are seeing from a rural growth perspective. Secondly, we have always seen so much potential coming in from rural, from a commodity and branding perspective; rural always used to outpace urban from a growth point of view. This is the first time we are seeing otherwise.

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

I’m not too sure… I know we need a third party measurement solution, but how the resistance from publishers will give way is a wait-and-watch situation.

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

Two types of talent are a rarity: First, integrated thinking and understanding. Second, storytelling. Traditional and digital operate in silos most of the time, and storytelling can make a huge difference to media plans with data and analysis being a constant across the two.

I wish clients would…

Set joint KPIs and work collaboratively towards achieving them.

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.