Tech practices in India evolving faster than any other market: Stephen Tompkins, Essence

Tompkins, VP, Media Activation, APAC, Essence, sees the use of mobile as a huge opportunity in India

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Jul 2, 2018 9:00 AM

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data on a massive scale has made India stand out among the global markets. On his recent visit to India Stephen Tompkins, VP, Media Activation, APAC at Essence, spoke about the rising clout of the Indian market and how the country is evolving faster in the use of technology than any other market in the world.


Can you tell us about the new trends shaping brand activation globally?

A lot of new trends are about new metrics which can help in driving deeper engagement. In digital we have looked at things like click rates etc, for long. Now, one of the things we are seeing globally, and even in India, is the shift towards making sense of brand marketing by looking at how engagements are driving consumer behaviour. We are actually able to make sense of brand marketing for the first time. It helps us understand how engagement happens. Moreover, with the use of data and better insights, we can tailor advertising, and also use data to solve the quandary of how the advertising dollar should be spent.

When it comes to the use of AI and big data, would you call India a mature market as far as its adoption and practice is concerned?

To be honest, I have been fascinated with the developments in India. When you look at the Indian market closely, especially from the marketing perspective, it is very different than other markets such as the USA etc, and a very mature market too. Right from the things that clients are asking for and how the campaigns are run, the market is vastly different here compared to markets like the US and China. Moreover, the use of mobile devices is a really huge phenomenon in India and we see a big opportunity in that. From a consumer marketing standpoint, technological practices in India are evolving faster than in any other market in the world.

When we talk about the APAC region, what is the prevalence of AI in those markets?

I think some countries in APAC are using AI really well and within that some sectors like banking have used AI in a big way to drive their business. One of the biggest things that we have been seeing in digital transformation is that technology is a great equaliser and I am seeing some countries in the APAC using it really well. Even the government has jumped on the bandwagon of machine learning. For example, Dubai has a Ministry of AI, and China is also using it in a big way.

Lately concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of digital advertising, has that forced a rethink in the use and deployment of smart technology?

Whenever you deploy machines and technologies like AI, one has to worry about someone taking undue advantage of it. The latest round of scrutiny that we have seen in our industry is a healthy thing. I think the system is getting cleaned up and we have been always well positioned to deal with all such developments.

Finally, what would you call the biggest challenges facing adoption of AI today?

I think crunching numbers is a costly business and the more data we get the more we have to crunch. One good thing is that we are getting better at machine learning and now we have to find out how we can use it to drive real advertising dollars. If you look at media activation practices, I think we are the best users of the platform that we use. We try to look at things differently and we are able to drive transformational change.

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