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Zenith India aims to grow faster than the market

Tanmay Mohanty, Group CEO, Zenith India, highlights the key focus areas for the company in 2018. The agency has grown almost 100 per cent in the last three years and aims to keep up with the growth pace. The company is banking on its new offerings, including e-commerce oriented solutions and artificial intelligence, to achieve growth targets

Zenith India, which has grown almost 100 per cent in the last three years, has set a target of registering growth faster than the industry in 2018.

The company is banking on its new product ROI+ along with artificial intelligence and its technical expertise to achieve growth targets.

Speaking to BestMediaInfo on the company's growth targets, broad strategy and plans for the New Year, TanmayMohanty, Group CEO, Zenith India said, “As Publicis Media, we focus on growing more than the market. We have grown 100 per cent in the last three years.”

In order to reach the target that the agency has set for itself, there are some of the key areas on which it will focus its investments. In May 2017, Zenith had launched its new positioning ROI+ globally. The India counterpart of the global agency framework calls this new positioning as its primary focus area, other than talent, building good algorithms and expertise on creative and technology.

Tanmay Mohanty

Mohanty explained, “In 2018, the focus will be on our ROI+ product and in building up a differentiated offering. We will continue to focus on areas of the future such as automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Machine gleaned insight will be used in integrated planning for clients such as Nestlé. In line with what the Global Brand President Vittorio Bonori says – in the near future, brands and companies will compete through algorithm. Much will depend on the capture and interpretation of data. If you have a better algorithm, you will beat your competitor.”

Speaking further on the subject, he said, “With this in mind, our product is centred around data, tech and analytics. A lot of what we do is predictive marketing.”

Consolidating operations is another focus area for the agency. It already has the assets and capabilities at scale. Highlighting how talent will take up an important chunk of the investments in 2018, he said, “We have already had some senior hires – Atul Sharma, Love Guglani and Swati Jha appointed as Senior Vice-Presidents and have structured into special business units (SBUs) to address specialised client needs. At Performics.Resultrix, we hired three Associate Vice-Presidents, Rizwan Shaikh, Avinash Vanpal and Nishant Gopalia, to firm up our western operations. Going forward, we will continue to hire for lead roles to support the momentum that we are witnessing.”

Publicis Groupe’s Power Of One thought and vision is another area that the agency wants to remain aligned and committed to. It will work closely with Publicis Groupe companies to enhance its offering further. By fusing together its creative, intelligence, and technology expertise, the ROI agency is able to provide clients with transformative ideas and consumer experiences, which Mohanty terms is ‘unlike any other agency or holding company in the marketplace.’ He added, “Modularity is critical as it allows us to future-proof the organisation and keep pace with the changes that show no sign of stopping.”

There is no learning to derive on focus areas if there was no empirical data and experience. Zenith India had a good 2017, which Mohanty likes to term as ‘spectacular.’ While the agency won Vistara, Docomo, Lactalis, ZTE (handled by Team ZTE), Honeywell, Singapore Tourism and OZee, it lost two accounts Foodpanda and Swarovski. Havas Media bagged the global media mandate for Swarovski. To add more to its kitty, Zenith India was also able to retain one of its biggest businesses – Nestle, which consolidated its nutrition digital marketing business with DigitasLBi and Zenith.

The new global brand identity was also an important milestone that was set in 2017 for the agency. Mohanty said, “Zenith’s ROI+ offering is an answer to the changing marketing communications landscape and the great disruption that is taking place across brands, businesses and categories. The approach is about blending data, technology and brilliant specialists to scout out new opportunities, solve complex challenges and grow our clients’ businesses.”

Speaking on wins, Mohanty said, “Our wins are testament to the fact that our enhanced product has been well-received by clients and the industry at large.”

Some of the agency’s work in 2017 includes – a first-of-its-kind Google Search Engine innovation for Maggi Masalas Of India where consumers could register live votes for new flavours ahead of product launch. Or a #Untrend campaign for Maggi Hotheads where consumers were encouraged to break free from mainstream trends.

Awards that the agency bagged in the year included the Gold at Festival Of Media Asia-Pacific (FOMA) 2017 for Maggi We Miss You Too campaign in the Best Social Media Strategy category. Zenith India was the Radio Media Agency Of The Year at Golden Mikes 2017 while Nestlé was ‘Radio Advertiser Of The Year.  In digital, it was Digital Agency Of The Year at Internet & Mobile Association Of India Awards (IAMAI) and Performance Agency Of The Year at DigiXX. It had many more wins in leading award shows such as Campaign Digital Crest, Goafest Media Abby and ACEF 2017.

The agency had been profitable in the year before. However, to continue to safeguard its profitability, it needed some special steps, as the margins on the billings of traditional media have been declining for quite some time. When asked about the ways to be consistent with its profitability, Mohanty pointed, “We have grown phenomenally in 2017, and our model is quite future-proof. Zenith earlier had a roadmap approach to planning. This no longer supports our ambitions.”

He went on to say that the current ROI+ model is in sync with the changing times and can be best defined in three parts.

“The first is about creating upstream strategies that deliver business transformation, where we audit capabilities and identify gaps, allowing for greater play on strengths. The second is journey planning where we map the full consumer journey, delivering capabilities that fuel creativity. The third is maximising downstream efficiencies where ROI+ enables us to apply sophisticated automation through AI and machine learning techniques. We maintain our focus on future-facing areas such as analytics, content and consulting. Zenith will be adding more to its capabilities on digital, performance and media tech.”

As mentioned, the agency also looks to harness the best in experience, knowledge, research and skill sets from within the group through the Publicis Groupe Power Of One vision.

In order to make sure that the agency is right on track approaching the target of growing faster than the industry, Zenith India has a four pronged strategy for the coming year. As explained by Mohanty, these strategy points include:

New client acquisitions on the back of a superior product. Focus on high-growth categories and future-facing businesses.

AI and Analytics: With machine learning and automation coming to the forefront of the industry, it is imperative that media agencies make investments in AI so that they are not just serving a transactional service. AI will automate processes driving more efficiencies and faster connectivity of marketing data with enterprise data. A first, Zenith launched machine learning algorithms with client, Aviva, delivering great results. “Analytics will continue to form the backbone to our work. We will be investing further in research, proprietary tools and systems to stay ahead of the curve,” added Mohanty.

E-commerce oriented solutions:  E-commerce remains one of the fastest growing areas and there’s a lot of scope in the area of insights and consulting. Brand discovery and purchase behaviours have moved past traditional search engines. The new landscape requires a new approach for marketers – an approach that includes strategy and technology for engaging searchers on commerce marketplaces such as Amazon. Performics has globally released Caiman, a proprietary Amazon marketing platform that powers new insights for marketers running Amazon search advertising campaigns. Caiman provides a daily keyword-level campaign data, pulled from a direct data feed from Amazon. It enables Performics teams to extract data that speeds optimisation, frequency around bids, budget and targeting, to increase sales.

Talent: Talent that understands consumers and how to engage with them via technology. Collaborative and passionate – those who bring creativity, analytical perspectives and strong strategic approaches.

Finally, in the last leg of discussion about what will drive growth for the industry and for the agency in 2018, Mohanty said total adex in India is expected to touch Rs 58,422 crore in 2018, growing at 8.4 per cent – becoming the fastest growing country in the world. India is No. 4 in the top 10 contributors’ global ad spend growth 2017-2020, following USA, China and Indonesia.

“The country has seen fluidity in overall ad expenditure on account of GST and demonetisation but we can expect a measured recovery on ad spends this year. Consumer confidence is on the rise,” said Mohanty on media and entertainment industry’s expected growth.

Zenith India will keep its growth coming from integrated solutions in high growth sectors like telecom, e-Commerce, handset and internet services and we will keep growing on the back of FMCG advertising. “We think that similar sectors will also drive growth for the industry. Internet advertising will see a 20.4 per cent growth in 2018,” he ended.

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