Media ACE Awards: Decoding the future of consumer journey & changing role of agencies

A panel consisting of Divya Karani, Amin Lakhani, and Shamsuddin Jasani, held a riveting discussion with moderator Roshni Das

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Updated: Aug 7, 2019 8:40 AM



The Media Ace Awards night on Tuesday opened with valuable insights on ‘The Future of the Consumer Journey and the Changing Role of Agencies’, and the insights came from the best in the industry. An eminent panel consisting of Divya Karani, CEO, dentstuX; Amin Lakhani, COO, South Asia Mindshare; and Shamsuddin Jasani, Managing Director, South Asia Isobar; with Roshni Das, Marketing Director, Intel, as the moderator, held a riveting discussion around customer-agency relationship, the challenges and the road ahead, specifically in the backdrop of a changing digital landscape.

Das began the discussion by asking the panel on how the agencies were keeping up as the consumer journey interception points were becoming more and more fragmented given the digital access consumers have.

Karani replied saying, “We’ve moved from output-based planning to outcome based. We partner with our clients, effecting brand outcomes, effecting business outcomes and sometimes even effecting cultural outcomes. This complexity brings to the fore that experience is much more powerful than mere exposure.”

“I’ll give you an example. We did this for our clients Honda Motorcycles. Imagine an audience of 2000 spectators, standing there in between matches and singing the Honda anthem. They were doing this simply because the anthem celebrated the consumers out there contextually and we were walking the path with them. So no amount of exposure could perhaps have captured this passion and this is what today’s media ecosystem enables us to do,” explained Karni.

Shamsuddin Jasani stressed that while fragmentation is there, one needs to be relevant for today’s consumer. He said, “Take just a step back, take the old way of advertising, you interrupt someone’s viewing habits and then show them an ad. I think consumers have now changed a lot. Consumers don’t like to be interrupted. As agencies and brands, we need to be able to seamlessly have a brand woven into whatever platform they are using, which doesn’t immediately interrupt what they are doing but rather engages them.”

With more and more platforms growing every day and access points fundamentally shifting over the years, Das then asked the panel members for their views on how can brands intercept on these kind of platforms?

Karani said rather than intercepting consumers, agencies need to think of how to weave brands into their narrative and not the other way round. She elaborated, “All these platforms enable us to serve them (consumers) sometimes even before they may have expressed the need, flipping it around from a brand down kind of approach to a consumer first conversation. So, how do you even engage in a dialogue with a consumer unless or until you are actually serving what he or she wants? It’s a radical shift.”

Amin Lakhani on the other hand said, “We keep hearing that the reach is going up of engagement of consumer on these platforms. The question that is there is: despite all of these touchpoints emerging, how do we make sure that there is an industry-wide ability to evaluate? And that brings me to the critical point of having an industry-wide measurement on this because it’s high time, it’s spoken about, but it’s slow. My view is that having measurement in the digital ecosystem, bringing all the partners accountable to that one industry body measuring system, will unlock a lot of potential. So, it will favour the industry. The sooner the better.”

Touching on how technology can better consumer experiences and consumer journeys, Jasani said a number of things can contribute and one of them is the use of voice technology. “It has already come. People are accessing them in small towns and cities and are actually searching more on voice than typing. Once the language problems are solved and our platforms understand languages much better, that is one big play because that unlocks a big part of India. And with Jio phones along with Google Assistant coming for Rs 500-1000, a big explosion will happen. The second big explosion that we don’t think too much about will happen this month when Jio launches its television through the data pipe. That will change the way television is bought. The rate at which it’s consumed, the rate at which it is bought; it’s not going to be broadcasted, it’s going to be consumed through the internet pipe. Hence what is digital and what is television is going to change. It will be a big change.”

Answering a query from the audience on how different was the agencies’ approach in working with smaller clients, Lakhani assured that there was no big or small client for agencies. “A client is a client. There is no big or small client. Agencies were and continue to remain hungry to help and support clients achieve their marketing solutions.”

Before the panel discussion closed, Karani had a question for the marketer and moderator for the evening, Das. She asked her what was the description that came to her mind when she thought of a dream agency partner? Das replied that they too had the responsibility of being great clients and part of being great clients was to help agencies get an understanding of their business and strategy. "I think AI will get more intuitive. When chatbots started in banks they were just there. But now as you build more intelligence into your AI modules through a lot of machine learning you are going to have an always-on approach to even consumer experience. So the journey will be more immediate and real-time. It’s great to see where technology is going to take us. It is only going to better how we present ourselves to the consumers.”

“A great agency would be one that would challenge some of our assumptions, show transparency in decision, bring in innovation beyond our regular way of looking at media and I think owning the business impact,” concluded Das.

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