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India needs laws that protects consumer and data privacy, even if many players lose business: Isobar’s Shamsuddin Jasani

Jasani believes India needs laws that can protect both the brand and the consumer when it comes to brand safety and data privacy, even if it means many players losing business

Shamsuddin Jasani

Digital has been courting a lot of controversies in the last few years. Right from ad fraud to brand safety to privacy issues, digital has been getting a lot of flak. Global giants such as Facebook are feeling the brunt of aspersions cast on them regarding data privacy and are fortifying their platforms to bring customer trust back.

Similarly, brands too are looking for a cleaner digital space and a lot more accountability and responsibility.

“While ad fraud is a big issue, we believe the bigger issue is brand safety. We (both Isobar and DAN) are working with big stakeholders to ensure that we work towards a brand safe environment,” said Shamsuddin Jasani, Managing Director, Isobar.

According to Jasani, the country needs laws that will not only protect brands but will also reassure consumers that their data is not being used for malicious purposes, even if it means loss of business for some players in the industry.

As the recent law draft of the data protection bill titled ‘The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018’ awaits parliamentary nod, the topic of consumer data has become that much more sensitive. The 76-page report and the 62-page draft Bill was submitted by the committee of experts headed by Justice BN Srikrishna. The bill puts all the power of consumer data in the hands of the consumer.

“We have been very vocal about the need for a cleaner digital space. Hopefully, in the next one year, India should also come up with laws similar to what EU has come up with to protect citizens and their data. For a lot of people in our industry that would mean loss of business because now you can do a lot with data but that is a very short-term play. You need to be able to protect the people that you advertise to, it is your responsibility,” said Jasani.

Jasani also believes that more and more money will go into ensuring brand safety and rightfully so because if a change doesn’t come in, marketers are bound to pull their money.

“Hotstar, today, is actually positioning itself as a brand safe OTT platform and not just them everyone is working towards that end. This clean-up needs to happen because if it doesn’t, clients will pull their money,” said Jasani.

Over the years, the country has seen a digital explosion, which in turn has resulted in an influx of digital agencies. Today, digital agencies are a dime a dozen in India and new ones are coming up regularly. Given the dynamism of the field, this is not unusual. New tools are coming into the market every day and there are as many experts as there are channels in this field.

Jasani feels that while the industry will definitely see some shutdowns and consolidations, newer agencies will keep coming.

“A lot of consolidations have happened already and there have been a lot of shutdowns as well but in digital there will still be agencies that come up with a different core. For a very long time, there were search agencies and there were social agencies, now it is e-commerce agencies and AR or VR agencies. Unlike traditional media, that is set, in digital there will always be newer technologies and there will always be a new person who can leverage that technology better,” said Jasani.

Despite the immense potential that digital holds in India, when it comes to creativity India is still playing catch-up.

“From a business perspective, I think India has definitely made its mark globally when it comes to digital. Every global network now sees India as a big destination. Everyone knows business is there in India and there is enough money. From an agency perspective, I don’t think we have taken up to that notch where we are standing with the best of the best as far as digital goes.”

Jasani’s vision for Isobar also stems from this realisation. He wants Isobar to be the best in the world.

“All the big digital agencies in the country now need to set themselves a benchmark saying ‘We are the best in India, where do we go from here?’ We, as an industry, need to do better as far as matching our counterparts across the world goes,” said Jasani.

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