We will be a separate media entity within Publicis Groupe: Paul Davies, Epsilon

Paul Davies, Senior VP Asia-Pacific Epsilon, and Ashish Sinha, SVP Epsilon India, talk about the company’s plans post acquisition by Publicis Groupe, future of digital marketing in India and more

e4m by Priyaankaa Mathur
Updated: Apr 26, 2019 8:49 AM

Publicis Groupe recently announced the acquisition of Epsilon. We caught up with Paul Davies, Senior Vice President Asia-Pacific Epsilon, and Ashish Sinha, SVP Epsilon India, to talk about the company’s plans post acquisition, future of digital marketing in India and more. 


What brings Epsilon to India and where do you see the scope for digital media and marketing?

Paul Davies: For Epsilon, India is a very interesting new market to explore and develop since it is very mobile-oriented. Today, it is very challenging to advertise on mobiles since a lot of overseas e-commerce countries are entering the Indian market.


What are your expansion plans in the Asia-Pacific Region post the acquisition of the company?

Paul Davies: The acquisition has just been announced and will take at least three months for the actual acquisition to take place. As per our senior management, we will be a standalone group as a separate media entity within the Publicis Groupe.

Ashish Sinha: Now it will be easier for us in India in terms of distribution. We have been in India for only 6 months though we are a 50-year-old company in the US. So going to companies and trying to fetch business takes time. But now Publicis will take us to their big clients and we will have access to the C Suite. Since we are very technology-oriented, we see a lot of opportunities from brands to take us for our technology and end-to-end services. That will help us from investing too much in sales in the Indian market. Moreover, if we talk of the top Fortune 500 companies, Epsilon have at least 70 of them in the US and Publicis Groupe in turn gets access to them. This is a win-win situation for both since we have many complimentary products and we are very excited.


So what were the reasons behind the acquisition?

Paul Davies: Our former parent company decided to sale Epsilon as they were getting much bigger rewards by investing in the servicing part of the business in marketing and technology. Since they could not put the right kind of investment that we needed, they realised that selling it will help grow the company’s potential. Publicis Groupe understands the marketing of what we needed to develop, so it became an exciting proposition.


How will Publicis Groupe utilise Epsilon's data, talent and technology?

Paul Davies: At this point in time we need to understand who are our mutual clients who will help us extend our business further. The obvious benefit is to get access to the CEOs and CMOs and have conversations with them about what we do.


Which Epsilon clients will be managed by Publicis after acquisition?

Paul Davies: At the outset, Epsilon will be stand alone and there will be no interference as there would be absolutely no change in terms of the clients we manage like Marriott Group or Paypal to name a few. So we will see internally how Sapient part of Publicis will get together to get the best solutions for our clients. We will be open to discussions as we go forward.


How have you been able to anticipate and analyze data to create experiences through products and brands?

Paul Davies: To have personalized communication and to drive it, one needs to understand the customer behaviours and for that, you need to have single customer view. With that you can study behaviours, demographics, psychographics and understand behavioural patterns and analyse them. That's how you can get pseudo normal profiles in the digital space. Once you have that data, it can be used in the communication cycles to create personalized experiences. That's how Epsilon analyses data.


How has the Indian market emerged in terms of dealing with traditional data and modern day advertising on various platforms?

Ashish Sinha: Indian agencies are very traditional and are into above-the-line advertising in terms of billboards, TV ads, commercials and radio. With the mobile-first approach today, everyone is going digital now and need data to run ads that are personalized. Today, all your transactional data, demographics and behavioural patterns are being captured by a brand that gets to know you much more through online essentially.

 Online advertisement has become too personalised. The same brand can speak to different people in different ways because it has data of different demographics, with solutions which are much more personalised.


How has technology become an enabler in today's digital world?

Paul Davies: Today, technology facilitates digital media as it allows you to interact on various platforms. There are technologies like the Adobe programme that can connect you to these platforms and you are able to access data. New channels keep coming up. So through a messaging platforms like Facebook, a range of messages can be derived. Since the platforms are connected to each other, we can use Facebook to involve the customers using the data on WhatsApp. Similarly, Instagram is connected to Facebook, so one can use that data to connect and create an experience. So it's important to know the ecosystem that you are working in.


How do you utilise data attained through various platforms to create customer loyalty programmes?

Paul Davies: If you take the messaging platforms like the Facebook Messenger, we use those platform to drive emotional messages that could be service messages, offers and use those channels to create loyalty for your customers based on the data that you have.

Ashish Sinha: A lot has been done in terms of keeping loyal customers because the value of keeping a loyal customer is much higher than having a new customer. There are too many brand wars that are happening wherein the products are very much the same. So it's important to do things for customers by making their lives better by giving them a value addition instead of direct selling and to use their preferences data to incorporate with various offers.


Data is said to be equivalent to oil. What kind of data is being talked about and what's the role of AI today in utilising data?

Ashish Sinha: Data is of various types. But here, we talk about digital data, which is easy to talk about. Today we are dealing with millions of lines of data that cannot be put in excels. And the data is changing every 3-4 seconds from one platform to the other and with it, the customer footprint is changing. The machines today need to be faster, quicker and smarter and that's what AI is making them. The outcome of AI is the ability to really personalise. Brands are using AI to make the products look better. Thus, Epsilon caters to brands with its loyalty and Artificial Intelligence engines.


How do you deal with consumer privacy and security?

Ashish Sinha: All the data that has been used today on all the platforms has the privacy compliance that is permission-based and have privacy policies that seek consumers permission for their data to be utilised by any platforms. The need is to simplify them for consumer understanding. So the new regulations are coming up with these things. While the data that is not approved by the consumer is called anonymous data.

So what's the future of advertising in India?

Ashish Sinha: Celebrity endorsements are big in India. But slowly, we will see more money being spend on better ads on digital or Youtube as brands are approaching it for 5-sec advertisements. The most interesting aspect is that a consumer only sees the advertisement if he likes it. So now brands are applying consumer preferences through data to customise advertisements to create what you like. Only the ads of your choice pop up on your YouTube channel and that is the advertising technology that Epsilon brings to the table.


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