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New Kid on the Block: Whatclicks, a digital marketing audit firm

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New Kid on the Block: Whatclicks, a digital marketing audit firm

One question keeps marketers awake at night like no other: Have I spent my money wisely? This is more so in the emerging world of digital advertising which is plagued by viewability issues, click farms, brand safety issues, ad fraud, etc.

Digital advertising that has so far largely been an area that marketers have been willing to experiment with, will soon account for a quarter of a brand’s media spends. “In 2-3 years when that happens, there will be a lot more scrutiny into the digital ads spends. Marketers will want to ensure that their ad spend is judicious and effective,” says Rahul Vengalil, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Whatclicks, a one-year old digital marketing audit firm.

In a fragmented digital ecosystem which includes a multitude of tools, WhatClicks promises to be an unbiased, objective, third-party audit firm that will work with advertisers and agencies alike to help build an effective and integrated digital strategy.

In a free-wheeling chat with exchange4media, Vengalil and Aatsi Desai, Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer, speak about the state of the digital advertising ecosystem, growth plans for Whatclicks and more. Edited Excerpts:

Why do agencies and advertisers need an audit firm like Whatclicks?

Vengalil: Marketers are losing money on various fronts. According to a Nielsen study, there is a spillover of around 40-45% on digital. Not just this, the technology that enables digital marketing is evolving at a high pace and every 3-4 years there is new technology that comes in and marketers are forced to accept that technology. Marketers also fall behind if the company does not upgrade its technology. And then there are the universal concerns of changing metrics, brand safety, ad fraud, viewability, a fragmented ecosystem, etc.

Our job is to help brands identify why, where, how they are losing money with logic, reasoning, rationale and data.

We also help companies with digital transformation. It is not just about your platform and your assets, but also about the team structure and capability. Whether you require an in-house team or an outsourced team to meet your objectives, and the cost involved for those teams.
How hard has it been to convince clients that they need you?

Vengalil: We initially thought it will be a hard sell to convince brands, but the more clients we meet, the more they embrace the idea. In the beginning there was no trust in digital because it was at a nascent stage, now clients don’t trust the execution. There is an inherent lack of trust that has been built into the psyche of the clients. Because they know something is amiss.

Desai: When clients review their individual KPIs across agencies, everything is good, but the big picture is not tied together uniformly. Clients come to us with specific problems that need to be solved. Their questions are specific because they are already facing issues.

Would you say that the new agency ecosystem that has created specialists in silos has given rise to a need for Whatclicks?

Vengalil: Having come from the agency side, it’s a double edged sword. We have all heard of integrated marketing, but digital marketing guys don’t understand offline and vice-versa. Digital is so fragmented that if you have not gotten your hands dirty doing everything, then you would not understand everything.

Consider this, competing group companies working with a client. The question then arises: where is the integration coming from? Within a group company, if the client uses full-service, then the question is who will be the integrated planner, a person from the offline experience or the online experience? Because a majority of the spends come from office, the integrated planner might be from offline and they may lack the online experience.

As a digital audit firm, aren’t your views also coloured by the digital goals and objectives of a client?

Vengalil: While I accept that, I should say that our principles don’t change, only our implementation changes. In any of our projects, we try to understand the overall business, marketing, media, and communication objectives. Once we have these, we have a base to refer to and we build on digital from there.

There have been instances when we have given feedback on offline campaigns as well.

And one of our co-founders, Toshal Shenai (Chief Media Officer) has a brand strategy background so his understanding of offline is more evolved than the rest of us on the team.

Whatclicks is now just over a year old, what are your growth plans?

Vengalil: In 13 months, we have 12 clients and we have done 25 projects with these clients. We will hopefully have a few more clients in the next couple of months. Now having shown results, it is all about scaling up. Currently, it is just the four of us co-founders. But we have an extended team of eight who are specialised in various areas like UIUX/Programmatic/SEO/tech etc.

We are currently based in Bangalore; we will soon have an office and team in Mumbai and a Delhi office will follow that. 

In 2018 we want to double our team and grow our business by 150 per cent, and we are hopeful that by March we will have 40% of the confirmation in. This is how aggressive we need to be.

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