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Vikram Sakhuja is a friend and we wish him well: Dominic Proctor

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Vikram Sakhuja is a friend and we wish him well: Dominic Proctor

Dominic Proctor, President GroupM Global, talks about GroupM's approach on middle and bottom of the marketing funnel to optimize clients spends even more effectively. Wishing Vikram Sakhuja (formerly Global CEO of Maxus) well, he says, “Madison has a fine heritage and clearly needs to reengineer for the future. I guess that's why they have taken him on.”

On the topic of acquisitions, Proctor maintains that if specialist companies serving a need in the marketplace see their future as being within a larger collaborative group, then they will be welcomed. “The Agency Of The Future needs to change shape constantly,” he says.

Excerpts from the interview:

In our last interview with you which was in November last year you said, “We are not so big that we can’t be nimble, we are not a massive company that lumbers around, scale is not getting in the way of speed.” How has GroupM used scale to its advantage rather than let it become a weakness in the past year?

There are real life examples of GroupM India’s agility and future ready outlook towards our clients’ business needs and a dynamic media environment. In 2013, GroupM India recast their approach and put digital at the centre of everything we do, as that was the “need of the hour” over the last 18 months. While focus on digital continues, a renewed focus has been put on data & analytics, invention and creativity- all this while we keep our clients’ business outcomes in mind.

Over the last year, the team also put together many successful projects like the Grand Diwali Mela in partnership with Google and, the Great Online Homes Festival with MagicBricks and Google and Tied Together, a marketing initiative by GroupM and Facebook- which is live now. Our agencies in India have been working together with clients to expand their understanding and investments in areas like content and social, sports and experiential marketing. A recent example of this was the HUL Content Day, where we worked together with our client and over 20 partners, across media brands, production houses and talent, on engaging content ideas.

We believe that Media Investment Management thrives on scale more than any part of marketing services. Scale allows investment and this is the key.

How has GroupM worked towards integrating each individual agency with the rest of the organization in order to drive scale that brings about a competitive advantage?

Each of our agencies is distinct and differentiated with their own points of view on consumers and the world around us, which they deliver to their clients uniquely. Collaboration underpins everything we do. It is already an extremely collaborative team in India and this allows us to apply scale and light touch as required. It's a team game and only for team players.

The point of integration with GroupM and the leverage of scale is tied to four key areas:

1. Trading power from consolidated expenditure volume and a single voice to media owners.

2. Innovative first-to-market solutions in concert with WPP’s partners – new products, tools, and research – via shared intellectual, research and development resources.

3. The most comprehensive technology stack via the development or acquisition of solutions such as Xaxis (GroupM’s proprietary trading desk), Appnexus, Comscore, Rentrak, Medialets, Kantar and Shopcom.

4. Proprietary analytics and forward-looking market insights to consistently improve a client’s position across all media and drive value year-to-year.

Vikram Sakhuja’s exit from GroupM and his joining Madison as Equity partner has quite a stir in the industry. What are your thoughts on this move? Do you think there is likelihood of any GroupM clients moving to Madison?

Vikram is a friend and we wish him well. Madison has a fine heritage and clearly needs to reengineer for the future. I guess that's why they have taken him on.

Can we expect more acquisitions in India as well globally?

As we broaden our business, we are always open to broadening our talent base. Obviously this can come via acquisition so we “are open for business.” If specialist companies serving a need in the marketplace see their future as being within a larger collaborative group, then they will be welcomed. The Agency Of The Future needs to change shape constantly.

How would you rate the India operations from a business perspective? What are your focus areas for GroupM India?

In India, we are developing a wonderful balance of scale, breadth and agility. Scale allows us to invest back into the business. Breadth is our strategy of developing new services to meet the ever-changing needs of our clients. These include an ecommerce practice, an ambitious sports marketing business under ESP properties, experiential marketing, and a business plan fuelled by data and digital expertise. It acts as a great template for other major world markets and brings great advantage to our clients.

How much does GroupM Contribute to GroupM globally?

India is a significant market for GroupM worldwide. Even though our teams in India are marketplace leaders, they have shown very positive signs of growth, which we are sure will continue.

The real story lies beyond the data. When Srinivas(CVL Srinivas CEO at GroupM South Asia) joined the company, I told him that his opportunity in India is to change the industry, not just the company. As the economy grows we are beginning to achieve that.

There is an increase in demand for marketing technologists who can leverage technology to optimise client spends at the agency side, how does GroupM ready itself to meet this demand?

More than any other agency holding group, GroupM continues to invest in data and technology to ensure clients have the absolute best resources for their marketplace advantage. Increasingly, we are focused on the middle and bottom of the marketing funnel – not at the expense of the top of funnel, but in addition to -- for an approach to consumer touchpoints that includes attribution of connection to expenditure and ultimately client sales or other outcomes.

WPP’s investment strategy is of vital importance in this, providing us access to data and resources from ComScore, Rentrak, Kantar, Vice, Refinery29 and more.

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