Prasanth Kumar, who recently took charge as South Asia CEO of GroupM, the world’s largest advertising media company, is quite excited about the Indian market. The challenges the economy faces, he says, are an opportunity to do better. Excerpts from an interview:
How have the popularity of data-enabled smartphones and the availability of cheap data changed advertising?
We are a country which moved on to mobiles faster than any other country. That is giving multiple opportunities and options for advertising, either in the content angle or in the opportunities to interact with people. It also gives an opportunity to analyse consumer reactions in a better manner. That has helped the advertising fraternity in deciding what to and how to communicate with the consumer. The insights on consumer behaviour go into the creation of the content itself. Earlier we used to do researches to get some kind of an understanding. Now it is a lot easier.
The over-the-top platforms that have been getting popular among an important section of consumers have so far been immune to advertising. What opportunity do advertisers have in this market?
These platforms help us understand and target the consumer better. Then there are various opportunities in the content itself. Advertisers can use these platforms to learn and do better. Whether it is YouTube, Facebook or Hotstar, each one of these platforms has its own characteristics. And advertisers can plan accordingly.
Availability of user data has changed the way advertisers target consumers. Now with data protection laws getting stronger, will not that be a little difficult?
Data protection, in principle, is a good thing. But it is only defining the rules of the game. There are mechanisms to play. It is not a restriction; it allows you to play within the rules. This is happening around the world and there will be a new normal. And it will lead to inventing the right model.
There is a slowdown in the Indian economy and many of the big advertisers are affected by it.
Globally when you look at the overall market, India is one of the top 10. The growth India is having even in challenging times is still one of the highest. We have a population of 1.3 billion people, which is a great bank of consumers. Our economy has got multiple variables. There are new categories coming into it. Multiple tech-based categories. They are all adding to the ecosystem. There is a new normal getting set up. There are, of course, challenges. But these challenges are an opportunity for this large country to do better. Conventional mechanism of marketing is getting redesigned by the channels within the chain of the overall operating system. Those bring in a lot of challenges and a lot of options. We are at a stage where our progress is consistently progressive. We are confident that this potential will get utilised. There might be a slowdown, but the fundamentals continue to be strong. That is what you need to bank on.