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Andras Vigh

Managing Director - Worldwide | 12 Aug 2011

Understanding technology and implementing it in the right way is of utmost important for any agency. We are sure when we enter the Indian market, with the right tools, right knowledge, right expertise and experience, we will do immensely well in the performance marketing arena.

Andras Vigh, Managing Director Worldwide for Performics, the performance marketing agency unit of ZenithOptimedia, is all set to ensure a successful presence of Performics in India.

Performics was acquired by the Publicis Groupe in 2008 and has been part of ZenithOptimedia Group since 2010. Performics’ core offering, “OneSearch,” drives integrated search efficiency for clients to ensure optimal marketing investment. The agnostic approach pairs third-party platforms, such as DoubleClick Search, Marin, Kenshoo and others, with proprietary technology, including BenchTools, Performance Marketing Dashboard and Click2Sales, to deliver best in class solutions.

Vigh has been working for ZenithOptimedia/ VivaKi/ Performics for over 17 years. He assumed the position of Global Leader for Performics in 2011 to facilitate and lead its launch, global rollout and development. Prior to this, he was Regional CEO for CEE, Middle East and Nordics for five years. Previously he was CEO of ZO Hong Kong for six years.

Vigh believes that Performics’ performance specialists around the world are recognised thought leaders and experts in PPC Search Engine Marketing, SEO, Display Advertising, Social Media Marketing, Mobile, Conversion Optimisation and Affiliate Marketing and Performics’ consistent global offerings will enable its clients to make smarter decisions about their digital spend and, ultimately, increase ROI.

In conversation with Deepika Bhardwaj, Vigh speaks about Performics’ expertise in digital, importance of understanding technology and plans for the agency’s foray in India…

Q. We are seeing media agencies paying attention to understanding technology first hand, and in some cases even building applications and software and digital solutions for clients. Have you had similar observations?

Understanding technology is very important, without understanding technology you cannot provide good solutions. I am not sure if agencies today have the right vehicles to write these solutions, as most of the agencies do not have strong technology background, but it is more important to understand the work ways and then you can develop things on your own or find the right partners. Creative agencies develop ideas and take the help of directors to shoot the film. Technology is also moving that way. The need is to develop great concepts and then find the right technology partner to create that.

Q. Do you think developing standalone applications and solutions have an edge over other digital solutions?

It completely depends on the need. I have seen amazing applications, but to do an application just for the sake of doing it is pointless. The key to developing applications is that they have to give something to the consumer, ensure that the consumer is coming back to experience it again and maintain some sort of involvement. The application developed by Skoda for Tour de France, which allows users to follow the race, is a perfect example. It’s a very interesting association. Skoda is leading sponsor for Tour de France and this is the best way they integrated brand communication. The application for me is a great extension of brand philosophy, there is content coming in, and it makes it much easier for the user to track it. They have developed the strategy; the application fits into it and benefits the user.

Q. Could you cite some examples where things worked?

The Skoda-Tour de France example is good. Some media owners have also done good work. Financial Times was the first to develop an application on the iPad to let users read on that device, but it has been a paid service. FT went ahead and partnered with Hublot watch brand, providing the services to Hublot users free of cost. Hublot is already an advertiser with FT and this association further worked well for both. The application became quite well known and it engaged with the audience in the right way. I have not seen highly successful standalone applications, mainly because the brands do not have adequate content, or if they do, it is not the easiest. Thus, tying up with the right content partner can definitely lead to good solutions.

Q. Could you share some of the tools that Performics has that set it apart from other digital solution providers?

One of the most important tools we have is called Benchtool. It is difficult to obtain competitive information in search, you know about your bidding information, but you don’t know what the competition is doing. Benchtool helps us in understanding that situation. It helps us to get comprehensive competitive information and we share it with our client. It’s a competitive tool developed over years with expertise.

Q. What is the challenge for a market like India, where digital has not really taken over yet, and traditional media, while growing, is questioned?

India is an interesting market for a number of reasons. The sheer size in terms of number of people is a big opportunity. The fact that this is predominantly an English speaking country makes it look easier to break. But it is not that easy. The reason is that television is relatively cheap at the moment. In emerging markets, especially during the financial crisis, digital percentage of media share decreased because TV became cheaper and then people got back to safer havens of television. Traditional media will remain a challenge. But this will change, especially for brands that have younger target audience. There is a need to educate the clients as well.

Q. Please take our readers through some of the more recent solutions that you think have been path breaking for the industry from Performics/ ZenithOptimedia?

OneSearch has been a successful solution from us; that’s the concept our clients also really liked. The other thing is local search, which has majorly been implemented in the US. Today, when you search, along with results you also get map and location details. We have worked closely with clients who have extensive dealership networks like cars and telecom, with multiple outlets and retailers, to ensure that they dominate the page and don’t beat against themselves. SEO and SCM are very different – one is art and other one is trading, if you don’t have skills in both, then you can’t really do it together. We have dedicated one search team, who has expertise in both and that makes all the difference.

Q. Targeted advertising - are you amongst those who believe that would become the way of the future? If yes, who are some advertisers who are getting it right?

Targeting will be important. In fact, re-targeting is the buzz at the moment. Targeted advertising works beautifully for e-commerce brands because one can immediately measure whether it worked or not. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for bigger brands, but it’s harder to see the immediate success as there is no live feedback. I believe digital has a great future. Offline media has amazing content, but most of analog content is becoming digital as it is being distributed digitally. The ones who would benefit the most will be the technology platforms who distribute content like Apple, YouTube, etc.

Q. Does targeted advertising finally mean that the part of the ad budget that was being wasted would now be in check?

Yes, I think ROI improves with targeting as feedback on immediate sales is available. The harm in this, however, is that all activities then become advertising driven, which is not advisable. Amazon is a good example. But it is also important to build a brand name, so it is not necessary that every activity becomes a sales activity.

Q. Which online platforms do you think are the most crucial for a marketer to be on today? What are the strengths of each of these in terms of reaching to the target consumers?

I think search is a huge driving opportunity; all marketers should have their search strategy in place. But it is crucial to have a permanent presence in search. The keyword for the brand, the key areas of interest in the categories, names of potential competitors – these terms should always be a part of the search strategy, because you can never predict the behaviour of your consumer. The same is also true for SEO; you ought to have an SEO strategy that would drive your presence online.

There are different solutions for different types of clients. Social is something everyone should consider, but social is not just Facebook. Social also includes blogs, discussions, and feedback. Maintaining a Facebook page is not end of all. Social listening is also very important, you should know what is happening, once you know that, you can engage with consumers and decide the action. Managing Facebook presence is important, but you have to drive the page and not just create and leave it. A content manager’s role is very crucial. You have to judge what to present there and what not. If you have a Twitter page, you have to have a strategy for updating it. If you have a social presence and do not manage it, you can be in for a big surprise.

Q. In your role, how do you view a market like India and the kind of solutions that are relevant to it?

For us, India is a big opportunity and this is something we are looking at seriously. We have big plans to make Performics a strong player in this market. Our first objective is to build base in the search market, keeping performance point of view and engage and push search as a relevant solution for clients. At the moment it is important for us to bring the right tools and right knowledge in the market. We are quite confident that when we come to the market with right tools and knowledge, we would do well.

Q. What are some of the key game changers of communication that you see in the near future in India?

If I look at it from performance marketing point of view, search is going to be a game changer, because clients will have to have a strategy on this. Social is going to be a game changer, not just Facebook, but many other things which clients will have to manage. Online video is also going to be very important. The long term opportunity of course is mobile.

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