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David Gould, Global Digital, Managing Director, Starcom MediaVest Group

Steve Simpson, Global Leader, Analytics | 06 Apr 2013

I see India as a hub of excellence for data analytics for the whole of Asia. A lot of thinking, technology and many of our approaches will be born here - David Gould, Global Digital, Managing Director, Starcom MediaVest Group

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Mehra, David Gould, Global Digital, Managing Director, and Steve Simpson, Global Leader, Analytics at Starcom MediaVest Group talk about the integration of data and analytics, their views on big data in India, ‘POEM’, their belief in the ‘human experience’ philosophy, making India the hub for the rest of Asia and more...

Q. What is your view of SMG’s India market when it comes to Digital and Analytics?

David: We’ve made some great strides in digital in the past one to two years, and there is a lot of room for growth still, bringing data into the mix is absolutely crucial. We believe we are in a position to reach out to so many data sources, which is a competitive advantage for us, and the way we can generate value is much like Facebook, which is a social platform that helps people to connect, but the real value in Facebook is the data which helps people connect. Using the same mindset, as we create the same experiences through search, social, mobile, and leveraging that in our business there is plenty of room for growth.

Steve: Naturally, knowing the Indian market pretty well, there is no surprise for us that there are a couple of big players in this market. With our positioning, we feel that ‘human experience’ becomes very important for marketers in this converging world. Despite the fact that the digital is market still being made here. It is such that you are finding that the consumer has opportunity to meet the brand across multiple touch points simultaneously, particularly with regard to OOH, TV and Mobile, which means we need to surround our consumers with brand experiences that meet them in their environments, and we do this by putting data at the core of things that we do, and integrating those data sources across various elements to make smarter decisions.

Q. How does SMG leverage its data expertise?

Steve: Historically, when people used data and analytics, they said I ran a TV campaign and I saw something move, which maybe awareness or sales. These days, that direct relationship between what we do and what happens is much more complicated, we put at the heart of planning and activation a concept, which from a data perspective we call ‘POEM’.

It is our ability to connect data sources and make sense of it, across ‘paid owned and earned media’. This concept applies not only in very advanced markets like Western Europe and the US, but equally to China and India, which are developing at scale, we’ve had a lot of success with that.

It applies to many of our clients, where we are trying to make the market in digital. These clients are embracing this concept in order to get to a place where they have confidence in embracing that digital future.

Q. Where do you see India when it comes to digital?

Even though digital is beginning to gain traction in India, there is opportunity to do some cool stuff. Unlike digital that grew up quickly in the US, where this immense amount of data was mind boggling and befuddling to people, India is in a place now where we have really started to get our hands around this data. This gives India the opportunity to leverage its growth trajectory and learn from the mistakes made by the other markets, which is a great advantage and a great position to be in. Learning how to leverage data in the digital market place in the right way, there is always a first mover advantage, but sometimes being the second mover is an advantage as well.

Q. What is the future of big data in India?

Steve: Firstly, at this point no one in marketing is truly leveraging big data in the region. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of the opportunity to link the social graph with behavioural data from digital media from transactional data and attitudinal data. The interesting opportunity this gives us is that there are no geographical limits to say that one market is more advanced than the other, because at that time your ability to manage that data and derive insights from it is borderless. At this particular time, India is in exactly at the same place as the US in the management of this data and applying it to clients’ business problems. The application of digital in the US to their marketing plans is slightly more advanced, so they have more of an appetite. When it comes to a market like India, we have to create that appetite; we cannot ride a wave of where the general category is, we have to create it.

We are well positioned, especially with our positioning around ‘human experience’ that allows us to think of experiences that are created by data with a series of tools that can make sense of that information. And our extended family that includes Convonix really activates and brings it to life for marketers. There is great opportunity for India to leap frog in its application of big data to marketing.

Q. Do you think India is amply leveraging the use of social media?

David: In general, India is ahead in social, but it is still nascent – not only in India but elsewhere in the world – when it comes to how to use social media, the metrics around social are still so ambiguous and there is a lot to learn to yet. India is on parity with the rest of the world as we are all in the learning stage. Smart phone technology has created a leap forward for India, so it is not lagging as before, and has enhanced the opportunity to use social media in the integrated media plan. We are doing some phenomenal work for Samsung. They are really pushing us and we are really stepping up to deliver on those promises.

Q. What is SMG’s focus in India for Data and Analytics for 2013?

David: We already have a data and analytics team in India, and we are focused on driving a better synergy between our existing team and the Convonix team. The Convonix team brings a skill set around data, which makes it very easy for us to create this linkage and integration between data and digital. A lot of thinking, technology and many of our approaches will be born here.

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