October 8, 2014

Business Standard: Q & A with GroupM Global President, Dominic Proctor


Business Standard Article

We are working hard on new mobile media strategies: Dominic Proctor

Interview with President of GroupM Global, WPP Group

Dominic Proctor
Dominic Proctor- CEO of GroupM

Dominic Proctor is the worldwide CEO of GroupM, WPP’s media arm and the world’s largest media agency network. It is also the largest player in India with entities such as Mindshare, Maxus and MEC. Proctor, a frequent visitor to India, tells Viveat Susan Pinto how his agency is coping up with the digital media challenges and e-commerce plans of GroupM. Edited excerpts:

Where do you see GroupM in a world dictated by technology?

I see GroupM in two broad areas. One would be strategy. The second area is execution and transactions. Strategy today is dictated by data and the platforms where it is consumed. Therefore, the challenge as well as the opportunity would be to be able to modify our strategy in real time. We are working in that direction. In terms of execution and transaction, technology is changing the way we negotiate with media owners. It gives us an opportunity to be much more efficient and automated. As an industry, we spend over $500 billion of advertising money globally on media and yet, only a small percentage of this is automated. It is strange, but our business on the transaction side is still done manually. So, I see GroupM building its strengths in this space as well.

Media agencies are at the forefront of identifying trends in communications. What is GroupM’s level of preparedness?

The predominant trend is the growth of digital media across markets. The shift in eyeballs from traditional media to digital media is picking up pace and advertising dollars are following to it. The speed of this shift varies from market to market. This is the big transformative trend today.

India has almost skipped a generation of digital growth. How do you work around it?

We are working hard on developing new mobile media strategies because so much digital media is consumed on mobile devices today, be it mobile phones or tablets. Secondly, we are looking at new marketing platforms based on digital assets. For instance, at GroupM India, we have just launched a platform called Diwali Mela, which is a new retail initiative coinciding with the festive season, with Amazon as delivery partner, where a consumer can log onto a website that is managed and curated by GroupM. Its a real-time marketplace where brands can do sampling, promotions, showcase their products – everything that they would otherwise do offline. Consumers, of course, can shop online and have fun. This is something new. This is media leading marketing, and there should be more such initiatives.

Integrating online and offline media platforms is a challenge for marketers. What solutions are you giving as the media agency?

We are developing research platforms and techniques that will allow us to look at all media vehicles simultaneously. That should help marketers tide over this challenge.

But is this enough, given that the media world is increasingly becoming complex?

There is always more that we can do. But it is good to make a start somewhere. And yes, media is becoming complex; especially with the emergence of digital media, there is an overlap between online and offline media. Let me give you an example. I find it fascinating that the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, has chosen the good old medium of radio to address the nation. He is doing this because of the reach that All India Radio has. But the message is unlikely to be restricted to radio. It will be picked up simultaneously by digital and TV news channels, not to mention social media. With this kind of overlap, the life of a media planner becomes difficult. A planner can no longer afford to be uni-directional. We have 1,500 people in our India operations, out of which 500 are digital and data analytics specialists. That is, a third of our workforce is prepared to deal with these rapid and overlapping changes in media. In a sense, we are becoming overwhelmingly digital in our approach. And, in my townhall address to employees here, I have asked one and all to embrace new media aggressively.

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