MediaCom India will grow by 20% in the election year: Stephen Allan

Allan, Worldwide Chairman & CEO, MediaCom says right now India along with Philippines is the fastest growing consumer economy

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Feb 1, 2019 9:13 AM
Stephen Allan

He is betting on India to drive growth for MediaCom globally; Allan, Worldwide Chairman & CEO, MediaCom, on his visit here says India is the fastest growing consumer economy from a media point of view and that MediaCom India is expected to witness a 20 per cent growth in the election year. 

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Why doesn’t MediaCom call itself a media agency anymore; Why the spin to content+ connections agency? 

Fundamentally media agencies were all about planning and buying media and in the olden days advertising was about a 30 second commercial or a newspaper ad, today media agencies and advertising is so much more. Content now is no more restricted to having an ad, it can be a video, social media influence or a tweet. So our job really is about taking messages which represent a client’s product or service and finding the best ways of making the right connections with the brand’s target audience. That is why we aptly call ourselves the content+ connections agency. 

MediaCom has been named as the most successful global new business performer for 2018 by the research company RECMA (has won $2.76bn worth of new business, more than any of its competitors in 2018), what are you doing differently from the other media networks?

We have a very strong belief at MediaCom which is ‘people first, better results.’ We are now in a world where marketing is becoming increasingly data-informed. So, people are using big data, data from different sources to help inform them about their target audiences and their potential customers. Any advertiser who has called for a new business pitch would hear from all the agencies present that they have the best data, technology and platforms. But, actually it’s what you do with that data that makes a difference. Yes, data has given us an insight which we didn’t have before, perhaps about the consumer’s consumption behaviour, habits etc, but what are you going to do with it. It is all about how you translate that insight into a campaign; and from a communication point of view, find a connection. Only then will it translate into successful business results. I mentioned ‘people first’ in the very beginning, its people that actually turn data and insights into ideas. So we at MediaCom are very focused not just on data which is absolutely the key, but also on what we do with that data to make it purposeful, meaningful and profitable for our clients. That is the feedback we received from the clients we did pitches for.

What does a client want today, best of integration or the best of specialisation?

Actually clients want everything. Like the saying goes ‘have your cake and eat it too’, I think clients always want the best people that are available and at the same time they want everything joined up. It’s an important point because within WPP, we have brilliant people right across the group who specialise in all kinds of areas that may not be core to MediaCom. Increasingly what we are doing is bring those people to our clients. We worry less about the words written on the business cards. Secondly, what we do as a network is systems thinking. It means that in today’s world everything is connected. When you watch television, you are perhaps also fiddling with your mobile phone, so you are using them both at the same time. We can use that behaviour to the brand’s advantage. For e.g. I watch something on TV that prompts me to do something on my mobile like visiting a certain website. Historically what did agencies do and what some still do is that, they think about the best way of using Television, best way of using Mobile and the best way of using Radio. Instead, what we do is ask a different question - what is the best way of combining these platforms and channels to get your attention and make you buy something.

2019 is expected to be a fabulous year for Indian advertising considering we have General elections, Cricket World Cup apart from IPL. What kind of growth are you predicting for MediaCom India?

We are forecasting a 20 per cent growth over the 2018 figures for Mediacom India in the election year. In 2018, the percentage of growth we enjoyed was more than the average market growth, by some distance. Even in this year, I hope we will exceed that. 

What is the importance of India as a market in the global scheme of things for MediaCom?

If in geographic terms I were to answer where growth is most likely to come from for MediaCom, my answer would be India. Advertising investment in this market is big but it is not as big when you take into account the population of the country. Advertising spends per capita is relatively low in India as compared to US. As the consumer economy grows here, as people find themselves with more disposable income, particularly in the rural areas, we will find companies investing more to try and win the business from those people. I am very optimistic about India, in fact I have always been very bullish about India. Yes, sometimes in the past I have been a bit disappointed because it didn’t move as quickly as I hoped but right now India along with Philippines is the fastest growing consumer economy and from a media growth point of view as well. 

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