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Digital Strategist’s Take > Tushar Vyas, Managing Partner, GroupM, South Asia

Tushar Vyas is managing partner at GroupM South Asia since September 2010 where he looks after digital and emerging media and is also involved in setting up new businesses, new product development, business development and planning. He had been associated with GroupM as national director, MindShare from 1999 to November 2004. Post that, Vyas was named as national director, Interaction, GroupM.

Tushar Vyas is managing partner at GroupM South Asia since September 2010 where he looks after digital and emerging media and is also involved in setting up new businesses, new product development, business development and planning. He had been associated with GroupM as national director, MindShare from 1999 to November 2004. Post that, Vyas was named as national director, Interaction, GroupM. In September 2007, Vyas quit GroupM to join digital media technology startup SureWaves as director and chief marketing officer. In an exclusive conversation with AlooTechie, Tushar Vyas shares his thoughts on the digital marketing industry in India and the way ahead.

How do you see the Indian digital branding market evolving over the coming year?

Digital has started taking centre stage for many brands and its role is not limited to performance or top-up medium. Digital will take role of the lead medium for many of the brands in the near future. There is strong digital undercurrent across all media and the influence of digital/internet technologies is not limited to PC and mobile.

How, according to you, the Indian market varies from other South Asian markets in terms of digital advertising spends?

Digital investments as percentage of spend in South and South-East Asia are fairly small right now. But if you compare India to other large digital economies like China or Australia, India’s contribution is starkly low. The distribution of approximate online investment by market compared to total media stands for Thailand and Indonesia is 2 per cent, while for India and Singapore it’s 3 per cent and 4 per cent respectively. In comparison, the corresponding figure for China and Australia is 11 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

What’s your take on the talent in digital media planning in India vis-à-vis other South Asian countries?

India is better equipped compared to other markets in South East Asia. Most digital professionals in markets like Singapore and Malaysia are not home-grown professionals but expatriates from markets like Australia, UK and India. Some universities in the region have started digital degree courses which will help the talent pool to be expanded. There is possibility of India being feeder to these markets in terms of digital talent.

Your take on any best practices that digital media planning agencies abroad follow and something that Indian agencies can learn from?

Agency focus is moving towards incorporating earned and owned media as part of the overall media plan besides paid media. Decision making is more data driven in mature markets due to availability of historical data – markets like US and now China have got fusion panel data on cross media consumption.

Technology and platforms are becoming integral part of media buying. There is part of spend moving towards platform driven trading. I am sure the Indian market will also go into that direction.

How do you see the core branding spend taking off on the internet and which sectors do you see driving that?

Currently, we seem to have crossed the first hurdle — guess not facing the question on ‘why internet?’ anymore. Having crossed the first hurdle, you are expected to answer a more difficult question: ‘how much is enough’ or ‘what should be the spend allocation to digital media’. It’s a more difficult question as there are no universal answers. In my opinion, agencies are more equipped to provide the answer based on brand and category understanding, audience behaviours and cross media cost benchmarks. The online paid media component has to be measured with the same yardstick as for the other conventional media.

How marketers’ demands from online as a medium have changed in the recent years?

Digital has started taking the centre stage for many marketers and it’s not treated as top-up medium anymore. There is always higher expectation in terms of innovation and accountability from online compared to other media.

Do you think in India the online media can be sold on a fixed spot or time spent basis as it is done in Print and TV?

It’s relevant in some of the cases like sponsorship, live event etc. However, advertisers should get relevant data in terms of impression etc. Largely the currency will remain based on impressions, clicks and post click parameters based on campaign objectives.

What role does social or unpaid media play in online media planning?

As I mentioned earlier earned and owned media are getting incorporated in digital media plan to create more complete solution for brands. Social media needs different treatment and needs to run like a long-term programme rather than campaign specific spurts. It’s also equally important to listen before trying to start conversation.

What, in your opinion, are the key issues and challenges that will define the digital advertising and marketing industry in the coming year?

The top challenges are increasing the share of spend on digital media; developing mobile as an advertising platform as well as a medium; evolving relevant metrics or measurement; and addressing infrastructure issues like low broadband penetrations.

by Satrajit Sen

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