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We have the lowest attrition rate in the industry: Debraj Tripathy, MediaCom MD

MediaCom Mumbai was ranked among the Top 10 media agency offices in the world by WARC. According to RECMA 2014, MediaCom India is one of the top six agencies in the country, with billings in excess of $479 million

Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | March 17, 2016

Debraj-Tripathy Debraj Tripathy

MediaCom, an agency that believes everything is connected and that means a media agency has to think and operate in an entirely new way. So new that they don’t even call themselves a media agency anymore; rather it identifies itself as ‘The Content + Connections Agency’.

MediaCom delivers not just individual channel silo efficiencies but also connected communications system effectiveness by developing and optimising all content – defined as any form of consumer messaging – as the fuel that drives high-performing systems. MediaCom measures and quantifies communications systems across paid, owned and earned through their unique Connected System Audit.

The agency recently made headlines by winning the award of Global Agency of the Year at M&M Global Awards 2015 and also scooped up numerous wins at Cannes Lions. Having achieved 80% of the set billings target in the first quarter itself, winning a star client list including Welspun, Mango, Mydala, Urban Ladder, Subway, Future Group and many more, the agency achieved over eight wins in 2015, and is still pushing for more extraordinary work and effective results.

In India, MediaCom is a joint venture between Sam Balsara and GroupM. According to RECMA 2014, MediaCom India is one of the top six agencies in the country, with billings in excess of $479 million. Its client roster includes blue chip businesses like Proctor & Gamble, Volkswagen Group, Tata DoCoMo, Future Group Retail, Shell, Dell,, SAB Miller, Subway, Bose, Vespa and Urban Ladder among others. caught up with Debraj Tripathy, Managing Director, MediaCom, who shared a deeper understanding of how the business has been, what the focus is for coming years and more. Excerpts:

How have the last couple of years been for MediaCom from a business perspective?

The last few years have been wonderful. We have grown billings at 68 per cent (2014 over 2012) as per RECMA. The 2015 numbers are not yet available but our internal numbers are very healthy. We have consistently won all the major awards, both global and local including M&M, Spike, FOM Asia as well as Global, Emvies, Goafest, etc.

MediaCom’s global rollout of 20|20 Connections, our strategy and planning framework has helped us win large businesses locally. To name a few, Future Group, Mars, Tata DoCoMo, SAB Miller, Urban Ladder, Koovs, Subway, Bose etc. were added to our bouquet. We have managed to service and deliver excellent results to our clients.

We have consistently been rated far above the norm by all our clients. We have managed to execute our ‘People First’ philosophy very well. We have the lowest attrition in the industry today – below 10 per cent over the last few years. We have been successful in having a perfect mix of both sexes in the management of the company. Out of eleven members on the management committee of MediaCom India, six are women. MediaCom Mumbai has just been ranked among the Top 10 (eighth) media agency offices in the world by WARC. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Would you like to elaborate on the kind of business that MediaCom registered last year? How did the agency perform in terms of awards and recognition?

We ended 2015 with Rs 750 crore of new business. We consolidated the Future Group business, India’s largest organized retailer and one of the largest investors in media and advertising. We won mandates from a whole host of blue chip clients like Bose, Subway, SAB Miller, Urban Ladder, Koovs etc. On the awards front we won more than 50 awards in the year, including M&M, FOM Asia as well as global, Dragons of Asia, Emvies, Goafest, etc.

Overall 2015 was a brilliant year and we started 2016 with a bang. MediaCom Bombay has been ranked among the Top 10 (eighth) media agency offices in the world by WARC. That is definitely great recognition for the world class work we produce for our clients

MediaCom is owned by WPP and Madison – two competitors. What kind of challenge does that pose for you?

As I have said before, the JV has been very good for MediaCom. Which other agency in the country can boast of the support of the two largest media groups in the country, GroupM and Madison? It is a pleasure to use the scale and the entrepreneurial spirit that the two agency groups bring to the table.


Give us a sense of the media buying and selling industry? What challenges have you witnessed in this evolution?

Buying and selling has seen a sea change from the days that I started in the industry 22 years back. Buyers and sellers have moved from being brute negotiators to using data to strike deals. Processes have got streamlined, documentation has got strengthened. I, however, think somewhere the personal connection has been lost. Earlier buyers and sellers were friends who were doing business and now they are just doing business.

Where do you see industry heading in the years ahead?

Programmatic buying is clearly the way forward. My guess is that about 70 per cent of digital inventory will be bought programmatically by the end of 2016. Other media inventory will be available too, definitely some TV inventory.

The agency seemed pretty quiet for some years, but picked up momentum last year. What had gone wrong and what have you corrected?

I don’t think anything was wrong! Just that we were more focused on building our product and our business which we have been able to do very successfully. We have always maintained a lower profile in media. We decided that we needed to change that status, which has resulted in what you mention as ‘picking up of momentum’.

What is the target for this year?

Can’t discuss.

What do you have to say about programmatic buying?

A quiet revolution has been on in the programmatic front in India. In the short span of a year over 30 per cent of digital inventory (from almost zero in 2014) is now available to be bought programmatically. Suddenly, the machines are taking over and for a change, everyone is welcoming it and participating in the change. Undoubtedly, India has been slow in moving into programmatic. Markets like Australia, Europe and North America have moved far faster and far deeper into the programmatic space. They have moved beyond digital into other media inventory. India is playing catch up but the speed at which we are moving makes me believe that we will be more or less at par with the rest of the world by the end of 2016.

My confidence is based on what I see happening in the industry in 2015. Audience profiles are being collected at a frenetic pace. New programmatic platforms are being launched. Demand for talent that understands or rather is willing to learn programmatic is suddenly seeing a spike. My estimate is that anywhere between 70 per cent and 75 per cent of digital inventory will be bought programmatically next year. Other media inventory will be available to be bought programmatically - TV inventory for sure.

What trends do you visualize in the coming future?

Four key trends:  Further and steeper rise in the SOS of digital programmatic buying and selling; associated with that is the use of Artificial Intelligence solutions to make the right choices to buy programmatically and use of personal and live data from wearables to help target better and get the right message across to the right audience.

You have been leading the agency in the last five years. What do you have to say about the growth and evolution of your agency?

MediaCom was set up as a joint venture (JV) in January, 2008. Since then it has grown quickly and steadily. From being a small agency when it was first started, in its current avatar, it is now the fifth largest media agency in the country (RECMA October, 2015 for year 2014).

We now manage the media mandates of some of the most well-known and largest advertisers in the country including P&G, VW Group, Dell, Mars, Shell, Future Group,, SAB Miller, Urban Ladder, Subway, Bose, Tata DoCoMo to name a few. We have been one of the most awarded agencies in the country and by far the most awarded in terms of global and regional awards.

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