Artificial Intelligence will free up creativity: Leigh Terry, CEO, IPG Mediabrands, APAC

Terry spoke to exchange4media about all things digital and India’s place in the IPG Mediabrands universe

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Published: Jul 27, 2018 9:00 AM  | 5 min read

Nothing can get Leigh Terry more excited than the perfect combination of technology with purpose. Over the last two years Terry has been overseeing the operations of IPG Mediabrands in the APAC region. According to him the next big trend that will define digital is artificial intelligence. But he confesses, "I don't know how!"

Describing his fleeting visits to India, a key market in the APAC region, Terry said, “I don’t get the chance to come to India often, and that is a testament our solid leadership and great business here. When I come here is for pleasure and not because there are problems!”

Terry spoke to exchange4media about all things digital and India’s place in the IPG Mediabrands universe. Edited Excepts:

What are the overarching digital trends that will get consolidated over the next few years?

Consumers are more open to the possibilities that technology can afford us. One of the things I feel will be largely impacting will be Artificial Intelligence. I just don’t know how! If AI for marketing can take away the labour and drudgery around marketing then people can devote more and more of their energy to genuine ideas that inspire and rich creative work. I don’t think AI will replace creativity, it will actually free it up. It will in fact allow humans to do what humans do best. We will see this as a growing trend particularly in markets like India and China where the population is huge, so there is the opportunity to reach mass audiences where we are looking to segment and deliver tailored messages to small subsets of audiences.

Everyone talks about voice as the next big thing, what are your thoughts?

Voice is another interesting aspect. On one hand we have had Siri or its equivalent on our phones for the last few years. That said, I have not seen mass adoption of using voice with mobile; the irony is that the mobile phone is a voice device. In the home though, there is better use of voice with devices like Google Home, Alexa and the likes. I believe that voice search will make brands more important. For example, if someone wants to search for batteries and Amazon has its own brand of batteries to sell, then it will be more important for the consumer to search for ‘Duracell batteries’ and reference the name of the brand in the search string.

Digital platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter have all come under fire for a number of reason from brand safety and privacy to fake followers and bots. Are they doing enough to rectify everything that is wrong with the platforms?

I have been having a lot of conversations with Google and Facebook in the last 12 months on brand safety, ensuring that our clients are handled appropriately, and ensuring that there is the right amount of rigour in the processes put in place. They are doing a lot, but I do believe that there is always more that can be done. I do think there is a lot of complexity to the problem because of the scale of it. I am glad they are treating it as seriously as they are and I hope they maintain their level of rigour.

The agency business is under threat from all quarters. What does an agency need to do to future proof itself?

Other than buy a fantastic business like Acxiom (laughs)... The best way to future proof the agency is to continue to listen to clients. We are here to serve and build the business of our clients. If we are not doing that then we be disrupted in the same way that any other category is being disrupted. If we cannot prove our value, then we do not have the right to exist. And I think not enough people accept or embrace that position.

As an agency we have clients across categories at different stages of evolution and they each have different demands. If you are everything to everyone, it means you are nothing to no one. This means one has to focus on certain areas. In order to do that, we spend a lot of time not only talking to clients but also experimenting with technologies.

When we experiment we look through the lens of 90,9,1. We look at the 90% that we should be using, the 9% that we should be experimenting with and looking to grow and the 1% that’s probably in the distance but stay prepared to implement it’s launched. We need to be in a constant stage of evolution.

India is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. From the IPG Mediabrands’ perspective, where does the India market stand?

The Indian marketplace is very much a two-horse race and I am very please to say that IPG Media is one of those horses. Within the APAC network India is in the top 3 and at the global level it is definitely within our top 10. There is a lot going on in our India operations.

This is not just about scale. I am a passionate believer that biggest does not mean best and by being best you get bigger. The quality of the work and talent we have in this market is genuinely world class. The work that we do across the Lodestar UM client-base is phenomenal and that’s the case even with Initiative. We have very interesting clients like Amazon India. Working with clients who are changing their categories will help us change our business also.

What are the main growth drivers in India?

Digital is obviously a big driver in India. There is still great scope to grow in the digital sphere in India as penetration can go deeper. Strategically speaking a lot of the more interesting work that I have seen is largely through content. I don’t say that purely in terms of advertising but also with respect to content strategies; and this space is growing massively.

In fact, everything is growing here in India! Which is very pleasing.

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Snap’s growth engine slows down globally, India bucks the trend

Snapchat India ops doubled its revenue in FY22. While globally, it posted almost flat revenue in the December quarter

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 8, 2023 7:09 AM   |   2 min read

snap

Snap Camera India Ltd, the Indian arm of Snapchat’s parent company, has doubled its revenue in India to Rs. 66 crore in FY22 from Rs. 33 cr in FY21, according to data sourced by Tofler. 

The company, which entered the Indian market in 2019 and currently enjoys an estimated 150 million users in the country, recorded a 114% jump in net profit for FY22 to Rs 6.2 crore. 

Its expenses in India nearly doubled year-on-year, going from Rs 28 Cr in FY21 to Rs 57 Cr in FY22. 

Snapchat derives a big chunk of its revenue from advertisements. It also launched a premium subscription service in India in August 2022, called Snapchat+. 

In contrast, Snap’s growth has slowed down globally. It recently posted its quarterly revenue of $1.3 billion, almost flat from the year prior. For the full year, its revenue grew 12%, a slower rate than predicted. 

Global economic constraints, weaker advertiser demands, increased competition in the social media market, disruptions to its ad business from Apple’s app privacy changes,  high interest rates and inflation are being cited as the prime reasons behind the slow down in growth. 

The situation appears to be even worse in the current quarter. Snap said it has already seen a 7% revenue decline so far in the first quarter compared to the year prior. It estimates revenue for the first three months of the year will be down between 2% and 10% compared to the previous year. 

Snap also posted a net loss of more than $288 million in the quarter, compared to the $22.5 million in net income it earned in the same period a year ago. The report marked the fourth straight quarter of net losses for Snap. 

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Meta and MeitY team up for digital safety campaign

Meta has also launched #DigitalSuraksha on Safer Internet Day, with several new initiatives for online safety

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 4:35 PM   |   5 min read

meta

Meta today announced its partnership with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for the G20 Stay Safe Online Campaign. As part of the partnership with MeitY, Meta will create and share helpful resources in multiple Indian languages through various channels, to spread awareness on how to stay safe online.

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The resources under the G20 Stay Safe Online will cover themes such as tackling online frauds, how to report harmful content, tips to keep yourself safe when interacting online and more. India is at the cusp of becoming a $ trillion digital economy and at the time when India is holding the G20 presidency, this strategic partnership will not only support and equip the existing Internet users but will also be beneficial for the rapidly increasing new Internet users in India.

Speaking on the partnership, Akash Tripathi, CEO, MyGov said, “Under PM Modi’s vision of India’s Techade, we are witnessing rapid digital adoption and with this growth, there is a need to create easy to access tools and resources to protect users from increasing cyber crimes. We, at MeitY, have designed a Stay Safe online campaign in this year of India's G20 Presidency and we are glad that tech companies like Meta are taking a lead in supporting the government’s vision of building an inclusive digital space which is free of severe online threats.”

On Safer Internet Day, Meta has also launched #DigitalSuraksha campaign builds on the company's efforts to offer a safer and inclusive internet to everyone.  The first phase of #DigitalSuraksha includes a partnership with Delhi Police to provide digital literacy to users in Delhi. The current phase of #DigitalSuraksha also includes a slew of measures on enabling digital education and literacy across youth well-being, child safety, tackling misinformation as well as the overall education of users towards various safety tools and resources available across Meta platforms.

Natasha Jog, Head, Public Policy, Instagram and Policy Programs, Facebook India (Meta), said, “The G20 Presidency opens up a great opportunity for India to design and create an ever-inclusive Internet model for the world, and we are excited to partner with the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology in this endeavor. Creating a $1 trillion digital economy requires an ecosystem that is safe and empowering and we will support the government’s campaign by providing users with education, tools and resources to protect themselves in this rapidly evolving digital world.”

Providing Digital Literacy

Law enforcement agencies are a critical partner in ensuring online safety, under its #DigitalSuraksha campaign Meta will work with the Delhi Police on a 2-month long programme to provide digital literacy to 10,000 students across various schools and colleges in Delhi. Further, Meta and Delhi Police will jointly build resources to educate users about protecting themselves against online/ digital scams. As part of this partnership, Meta will also train Delhi police personnel on Meta’s various safety tools.

The #DigitalSuraksha campaign finds expression through a Digital Nagrik Pledge, which was also launched by Meta today, encouraging people across India to become responsible digital citizens (Nagriks). Built on Meta’s partnership with CBSE to provide Digital Citizenship course to 10 million students and 1 lac teachers, Digital Nagrik Pledge will further support the Indian Government’s objective to ensure an open, safe, trusted and accountable internet. The goal of the program will be to get 1 million people to pledge and to become safe digital citizens over the next one year.

Building Consumer Awareness

Underscoring the critical importance of educating users, Meta has also unpacked a series of consumer awareness initiatives on the tools and resources available for people to stay safe.

Building on the partnership with Delhi Police, for a period of one month, Meta will wrap one train on Delhi Metro’s Yellow line to educate users about safety tools available for them on Meta’s platforms.  Commuters will be redirected to Meta’s safety tools through a QR code.

A new ‘Help protect children. Don’t Share. Don’t Comment. Report.’ campaign was also launched, to prevent the sharing of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and encouraging people to report such content instead. The campaign will educate users on the harm of sharing CSAM, and the impact it has on the victim and will encourage anyone who sees harmful videos and images of children to protect the victim by reporting it immediately to Facebook. The new campaign builds on the ‘Report it, don’t share it,’ campaign launched by Meta last year.

This year’s theme for Safer Internet Day underlines a crucial aspect of supporting young children by having conversations on life in the online world. With an aim to support and encourage meaningful conversations between parents and children around critical topics like use of social media, mental health and digital wellbeing, Meta has launched UnGap. A series of six episodes, UnGap is a chat show featuring pairings of well-known parents and children that includes actor Sheeba Chaddha and daughter Noor, actor Ahsaas Channa and mother Kulbir Badesron, comedian Abhishek Kumar and father Sundar Baalaji  and entrepreneur Roshan Abbas and daughter Ayatal Abbas, among others.

Additionally, an awareness campaign on ‘tips for tackling misinformation’ was also launched with Yuvaa, through short videos. Available in Hinglish, 15-second campaign videos will feature six simple tips and tricks on tackling and identifying misinformation.

Meta will continue to add more initiatives to the #DigitalSuraksha campaign over the year. These will be geared towards reaching a larger set of users by educating them, creating more awareness and advancing India’s agenda of digital inclusion and growth.

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Nicobar awards digital media mandate to First Economy

The digital marketing agency will undertake the brand's media strategy and overall media buying across all the digital platforms

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 3:48 PM   |   1 min read

nicobar

Lifestyle brand Nicobar has awarded its digital media mandate to First Economy. The digital marketing agency will be responsible for the brand's media strategy and overall media buying across all the digital platforms. 

To reach the masses, the brand specifically wants to promote its collection and uphold its position in the market through performance-driven marketing. 

"During the inception of Nicobar, we always had a brand in mind that stays unique in this world of over-flowing repetitiveness. Nicobar, with its distinctive products, has always made its consumers happy and satisfied. To help the business grow, we wanted someone who had a great reputation for handling performance marketing. First Economy stood up to all our expectations." said Raul Rai, Co-founder, of Nicobar. 

First Economy has served many prestigious clients and delivered promising numbers to them by upscaling their growth charts. "Performance marketing has always been our strongest point and we have proved ourselves time and again. With this alliance, we wish to add value to the brand’s journey ahead and look forward to bringing a change in the lifestyle industry, " said Jigar Zatakia, Founder, of First Economy Pvt. Ltd. on acquiring Nicobar’s performance media mandate.

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Pocket Aces lays off 20% staffers

Co-Founder & CEO Aditi Srivastava has said via a social media post that the company is taking steps to keep the operating model resilient

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 10:01 AM   |   1 min read

Pocket Aces

Pocket Aces has said that it will be laying off nearly 20% of its total workforce.

The pink slips are being given to staffers from the content and production teams, as per reports.

Aditi Srivastava, Co-Founder and CEO of Pocket Aces said in a LinkedIn post that the company has to take “difficult but necessary steps to keep operating model agile and resilient.”

The company runs digital channels like Filter Copy and Dice Media. It recently raised funding from Sequoia India, DSP Group, and 3one4 Capital.

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Centre forms panel to mull if competition law needed for digital companies

A parliamentary panel has earlier recommended that there is a need to act against anti-competitive behaviour in the digital market

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 9:04 AM   |   1 min read

Digital

The Centre has formed a special committee to consider if there is a need for a separate competition law pertaining to digital companies, media networks have reported.

This comes after a parliamentary panel recommended the need to act against anti-competitive behaviour in the digital market.

It has also been suggested that a law be put in place to ensure a fair and transparent system.

Towards the end of last year, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur informed the Rajya Sabha that over 2,800 digital news publishers have furnished information under the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code of the Information Technology Act, 2000 rules. These rules provide a code of ethics for digital media publishers.

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Google Bard, direct competitor to ChatGPT, announces soft launch

Bard, which is based on Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), was test released earlier than expected in direct response to ChatGPT

By Shantanu David | Feb 7, 2023 7:26 AM   |   3 min read

google bard

The AI arena continues to heat up with Google announcing the imminent launch of Bard, its director competitor to Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, which has recently taken the world by storm.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced the soft launch of the AI to "trusted testers" in a blog post on Monday, Feb 6, US Time.

Pichai wrote, "Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models. It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses. Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills."

Bard, which is based on Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), was test released earlier than expected in direct response to ChatGPT, developed on Open AI, which has been heavily backed by Microsoft (the tech giant recently announced a further  USD 10 billion investment in the technology and said it will be introducing it to a suite of its products including but not limited to MS Office, Bing among others).



ChatGPT has been making headlines, and indeed writing the news, with the conversational AI having been used to do everything from writing code and composing music to writing college essays and news articles to even passing business and law school exams, all at the prompting of a few words.

This is a huge potential risk to Google Search, the foundational product of the tech titan and a major contributor to its revenue through the advertising and preferential placement of products on its search pages.

As Pichai wrote, "One of the most exciting opportunities is how AI can deepen our understanding of information and turn it into useful knowledge more efficiently — making it easier for people to get to the heart of what they’re looking for and get things done. When people think of Google, they often think of turning to us for quick factual answers, like “how many keys does a piano have?” But increasingly, people are turning to Google for deeper insights and understanding — like, “is the piano or guitar easier to learn, and how much practice does each need?” Learning about a topic like this can take a lot of effort to figure out what you really need to know, and people often want to explore a diverse range of opinions or perspectives."

While tech enthusiasts have celebrated its achievements, several academicians and researchers have urged caution, with several universities even changing the format of their entrance processes so students can't use the AI to write their college application essays. And while this article hasn't been written by an AI (yet), watch this space for more.

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Will Google announce ChatGPT's rival on Wednesday?

The company has sent out a YouTube invite, indicating plans to strengthen Search and Map, possibly by incorporating the AI chatbot

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 1:09 PM   |   2 min read

google

Google is expected to announce its chatbot technology as early as on Wednesday as it responds to the success of ChatGPT, a Microsoft-backed AI chatbot that has caught global attention over the last three months.

The tech giant has scheduled a 40-minute event for Wednesday 8 February (7 PM IST), where it is expected to reveal its plans about incorporating its own AI chatbot (LaMDA) in Search, Maps and other products to make them interactive.

“We're reimagining how people search for, explore and interact with information, making it more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need. Join us to learn how we're opening up greater access to information for people everywhere, through Search, Maps and beyond,” reads the description of Google's YouTube invite for “AI-Event”.

Giving a hint in this regard, Sundar Pichai, the Chief Executive of Google’s owner, Alphabet, said last week during earning calls that the use of AI had reached an “inflection point” and the company was “extremely well positioned” in the field. He also spoke about making these language models available in the “coming weeks and months” so that people could engage directly with them.

The Google spokespersons are silent about it though, perhaps to create more suspense around the launch.

LaMDA shot to prominence last year when Google suspended and then dismissed an engineer after he went public with claims that LaMDA was “sentient”.

Large language models such as LaMDA and the one behind ChatGPT are types of neural network, which mimic the underlying architecture of the brain in computer form, and are fed vast amounts of text in order to be taught how to generate plausible sentences. ChatGPT has become a sensation after being used to create all sorts of content from school essays to job applications.

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