In conversation with exchange4media, two top level GroupM hands – Jeurgan Blomenkamp, Global Head, Trading, and Andrew Meaden, Regional Director, Asia Pacific – throw light on the competitive edge that GroupM Trading has been delivering for its clients and future plans.
Blomenkamp had recently been given the new profile of Global Head, Trading. Prior to this, his was CEO of GroupM in Germany. Talking about his new global role, Blomenkamp said, “My role really is to identify what works in which markets and what might have potential to roll out some tools, systems and thinking into other markets. But our particular focus is of course on what our overall future development in trading is and what our key ambitions are going to be.”
Elaborating further, he said that GroupM had two key ambitions – the first one being centralising all its trading power and trading approaches in order to help its clients stay competitive in pricing; and the second one was focusing on the digital medium and creating new opportunities and developing technologies that allowed them to engage in one-to-one advertising on targeted platforms.
GroupM is perceived to be a media buying agency rather than being a client partner. Commenting on that, Blomenkamp affirmed, “I think we are already a client partner. Naturally, the contribution of the organisation is in media buying and finding new ways to gain activity in media buying. When it comes to media strategy, individual media solutions rule our agencies. GroupM is really the platform where we try to leverage our agency volume in order to be most competitive in pricing.”
‘India has a more complex & fragmented market’
Talking about the media vendor and owner space in the APAC region and their role in partnering with the agency, Meadan was of the opinion that the broadcast media in most of the Asian markets tended to be strongly associated with the government and also at times in a monopoly of sorts. However, according to him, India was very different as it had a more complex and fragmented market.
Giving his take on the digital medium, Meadan said, “When we look at newer media such as digital, we do find a much higher degree of flexibility amongst those channel as they are trying to build and trying to make a case for themselves. If you look at digital, typically, they have less inventory, so they are less worried about the price that they are selling it for, but they are more concerned about the total dollar they are taking in and are more interested in growing the revenue. On that basis, their inventory is quite flexible and we have been able to do very nice content partnerships with some of our clients such as Unilever and Pepsi around the region and build much more interactive campaigns.”
Giving some further highlights on procurement, Blomenkamp mentioned, “Sometimes, I feel that we are the most controlled company in the world by internal audits. What I can say is that WPP takes compliance very seriously. It’s important for them and we have had this discussion with different clients with all different companies. I think it is very important for us to show to clients and external media auditing companies that we are always very compliant for them.” He also felt that in the next year there would be more understanding between the client-agency trading, about who is really doing what and the specific rules of this business.
Adding to that, Maedan said, “I understand that clients are under pressure, so naturally they are looking for more value and everyone has growth margins. But the reality in Asia, and particularly in high growth markets such as India, is that it is not something that can be straightforward to sell and I think our buying team has done a very good job of suppressing inflation for the clients.”
Sharing the reason for their visit to India, Meadan said, “We are not here for any tactical reason, we are here only for a strategic reason and that means that we will be coming here regularly. We are not here to interview anyone or announce any promotion, but we are here only because India is important for us and we want to keep on coming here and this is a long term relationship.”