He has just overseen IPG Mediabrands’s acquisition of Interactive Avenues, a domestic digital agency, and is confident that India will have a key role in the future of digital space. IPG’s global CEO Matt Seiler tells Priyanka Sahay why, among other things, his firm is pushing for the pay-for-performance model. Excerpts from the interview:
The acquisition of Interactive Avenues took a long time...
Interactive Avenues is the biggest digital operator.
There are so many things happening in India, unlike the rest of the world. Mobile adoption is one of them with hundreds of millions of mobile devices in hands of people. They are kind of skipping laptop and tablet space, and that is very interesting. How that will project in terms of social communication and in terms of emerging market is to be seen.
We will start looking at social and mobile and search — and that is where growth will come. The way media works today is mostly through connecting humans with other humans – and there is an opportunity for much more automation in this space. We will launch Cadreon (a specialised marketing services platform that integrates technology, data and inventory to manage audiences) in India in the next quarter. The next step up is securing campaigns, so not just TV or digital events... but there will be a much greater drive for identification of audiences and securing them through technology rather than human interfaces.
Where does India figure in your global operations?
Interactive Avenues has not just the digital media capability but also great production capability and content. They will become a part of our global operations. India will become a hub that will be in the digital content and production side as well as distribution.
We were always scanning the globe for the right kind of partnership and the key is in data analytic, content and production.
IMG Mediabrands has been pushing the pay-for-performance model. Will you adopt this model in India as well?
Pay-for-performance is really critical and not just for our future but the industry’s future. So, we think media brands are an extension of our clients’ marketing department. Long gone are the days of being considered a partner. We don’t really want to be considered an agency or partner or anything like that. We really want to be considered literally an extension of our clients’ marketing departments. So, we will say to our clients, ‘Where are your KPIs (key performance indicators)? How do you plan it?’ And whatever that is, that is how we will be compensated.
There is a huge difference between paid per hourly and paid-for-performance. If you pay me to take responsibility for your business, and you empower me to get involved with everything, I can ensure that you deliver or over-deliver your results. That’s what it is.
According to a Recma (Research Company Evaluating the Media Agency) report, IPG stands at the second position with 17% market share in the media market. By when do you plan to increase your market share? What is your target for this financial year?
It isn’t so much about market share as it is about the right partnerships with clients. So growth through the right kinds of partnerships that are more committed to our business outcomes... that’s the goal. We are looking at being the No.1 in the market but that’s not the end. Our target is to produce better products and have richer partnerships with our clients.
How do you see the Indian market when it comes to digitalisation that has already happened?
We are very fascinated by the leapfrogging that the mobile has done in rural markets. And the way people in India are trying to bring about a change through social networks is incredible. Any individual can say something, whether it’s women rights or any other issue. And suddenly, through social networks, there are groups forming and change being made, it’s very exciting.
Talking of women’s issues, do you think social networks have helped in triggering mass movements?
From an outsider’s perceptive, what you see is a social activism which has been driven by social media and in a very appealing, exciting way. So, it suggests that people are no longer assuming that somebody else will do it. It’s a recognition that technology is allowing us to link together.
You are focusing on the digital sector. But, in the coming months and years, do you also plan to look at other sectors?
Digital is so broad, it’s data, analytic, content, production. We’ll concentrate on that.