CVL Srinivas, GroupM CEO, South Asia, reveals that GroupM is unlikely to revise spends this year, unlike previous years. Having also donned the role of MRUC Chairman last month, Srinivas shares that MRUC and RSCI have been working to get all stakeholders together and move things forward through a recently conducted an Open House meeting attended by nearly 150 senior representatives from publications, agencies and clients.
On the ongoing wars between print players, he says, “There is a natural momentum building up in favour of digital. Therefore it’s all the more important for Print to focus on keeping the medium relevant, and not do anything that will further alienate the advertisers.”
Are we going to see a revision of the GroupM’s forecast of industry AdEx sometime this year, like the previous year?
At a market level we had predicted a 12.6% increase in 2015 versus 2014. We are holding on to that estimate and are not likely to change it.
How have the sector-wise ad spends panned out so far, compared to the predictions and the overall growth number of 12. 6%?
Categories that have led the growth in Jan-May 2015 over Jan-May 2014 are e-commerce, auto, telecom and media. Auto has been active during ICC World Cup 2015 and witnessed a fair number of launches. The e-commerce category is very actively promoting mobile wallets and app only sales and offers. This category is likely to increase its spending on digital media while continuing to have presence on traditional channels. The telecom category is active with both handsets and cellular service providers. Traditional categories like FMCG, BFSI are growing their spends at a slower rate than emerging categories. All this is broadly in line with our forecast for the year 2015 which we put out in GroupM TYNY at the start of the year.
As the new Chairman of MRUC, how are you going to ensure an overall acceptance of the round of results? With one of the largest players putting out statements rubbishing the IRS results previously, what are the steps towards building back credibility in your view?
MRUC and RSCI have been working to get all stakeholders together and move things forward. We recently conducted an Open House meeting attended by nearly 150 senior representatives from publications, agencies and clients. We shared the new IRS research plan and got valuable feedback from all members. We are confident that we are on the right track to create a credible readership study.
Could you mention any steps actively being taken by MRUC over and above what you have mentioned?
Not at the moment as we are still finalizing details.
What is your view of the ongoing TOI-HT wars, which are now seeing participation from The Hindu and The Telegraph as well? How does this affect advertiser morale?
India is one of the few markets where print continues to grow, though the growth rates have slowed down in the recent past. The opportunity is still immense and I personally think the print industry needs to focus on investing a lot more on their products and research.
Advertisers have begun to look at digital media a lot more seriously now. There is a natural momentum building up in favour of digital. Therefore it’s all the more important for print to focus on keeping the medium relevant, and not do anything that will further alienate the advertisers.
GroupM is launching a new vertical for the e-commerce and digital business. What is the need for this unit? What is the kind of investment that has gone behind this initiative?
E-commerce is not only the fastest growing category in terms of ad spends but requires a very different approach to media planning and measurement. Hence the need for a specialist unit.
To focus on future-proofing client’s media investments, Tushar Vyas who set up GroupM Interaction, the digital media unit of the network in India, took on an integrated role that combines data, technology and content. Given the unique demands of several new advertisers like e-commerce brands and the changing media landscape, Tushar and his core group will provide strategic inputs to GroupM agencies to help their clients stay ahead of the curve. WPP and GroupM have made significant investments in data analytics and technology. We are looking to harness this to create more value for our clients.
This has been the third year for YCO. What are some of the core changes brought about by this initiative in the last three years?
YCO has been one of our most successful initiatives on the talent front. Every year we have a new batch of YCO (Youth Executive Committee) while the existing batch graduates to become “mBassadors" of the network. YCO has worked on several live projects at GroupM in areas of talent management, digital media, new products and agency profiling. Through this initiative we have been able to bridge the gap between the senior and junior levels of the organisation in more ways than one. YCO acts as a pressure group to keep the EXCO (Executive Committee i.e. Senior Leadership Team) on its toes! We have taken several important decisions thanks to YCO, like several existing staff welfare measures such as talent recognition and rewards have been tweaked after getting inputs from YCO. On the digital media side we have got useful inputs on processes and systems that we have implemented.
YCO or something similar has now been rolled out in several markets across the GroupM worldwide network.
How much has the contribution to Digital grown in terms of revenues as compared to last year for GroupM ?
As per GroupM TYNY reports, digital media in India is growing between 35-40% year-on-year and contributes close to 10% of the total AdEx. On both these parameters we are ahead of the market. Our mobile marketing practice Madhouse is seeing great traction with over 100 clients actively leveraging mobile. Through Mashup, our digital content unit, we have created over 3000 branded video films. Xaxis, our audience planning and programmatic platform, continues to grow. All the enablers we have in place have ensured we stay ahead of the curve.