afaqs! news bureau
The Planner’s Special

"We're moving into an era when creativity and data will co-exist"

An interview with Tushar Vyas, president, growth and transformation, GroupM, South Asia. This is part of a special series of conversations with media agency heads - interview 12 of 31.

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

I'd like to name a campaign we did for Unilever's Lifebuoy. We used what is called a 'data lighthouse'. We wanted to target tier III cities and small villages. To facilitate this, we started collecting data from public health centres, at the village and district level. We identified the diseases prevalent in each village and based on that information, we started localising our message. As part of the brand communication, we gave them tips and guidelines on how they can protect themselves from diseases. Many of these problems tend to be very hyper-local in nature, so we tailored the messaging accordingly.

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

Attention to engagement is something that worries, concerns and challenges us. Modern consumers live in a hyper-communicative market and are exposed to so many different types of media, daily. This means there are both distractions and opportunities. Standing out and engaging the consumer with the right kind of content, in the right context, is the challenge.

Many brands are doing a great job of overcoming this, but it has to happen at scale. The messaging, content, and communication are all important because personalisation with a human touch is what we need. This will drive engagement in the future.

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

Each market is unique so I am not sure if we should be playing catch up. Our growth will be more inclusive and the media sector has grown in India. This could be because of our diversity and vast geography.

What consumption trends are you seeing in rural versus urban markets?

Urban has grown.

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

The problem is multi-layered. There is a technical type of ad fraud for which commercial solutions are already being designed. However, in the case of ad fraud, the problem keeps evolving. Technological solutions have started coming in but what is missing is the brand context, of the different types of vulnerabilities that each type of ad can have. For example, a consumer facing brand might have a particular threshold to resist ad fraud, a security brand might have a different threshold, and so on.

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

We're moving into an era when creativity and data will co-exist. We need deeper understanding of what it means to be a data-savvy consumer. We also need to invest in deeper technical knowledge.

I wish clients would…

I don't wish for anything specific. We are at the forefront of a digital transformation, led by data and creativity. Being socially responsible is an aspect of that journey, and that's what agency-client relationships are all about these days.

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.