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The pressure of FMCG brands cutting digital budgets will bring more effectiveness, says Wunderman's Krishnan Menon

The COO of Wunderman APAC says data privacy law should not be caught up in politics and India can learn a lot from Europe, which has put a lot of rigour into GDPR

Krishnan Menon

A lot of debate and discussion is happening around the draft bill on data privacy in India. How rigorous and effective the bill will be is anybody's guess but according to Krishnan Menon, COO, Wunderman APAC, what will really test the law’s effectiveness is its implementation.

“It is not so much about getting the right policy in place as it is about implementing that policy effectively and not letting it get caught up in politics,” said Menon.

Menon is also of the view that all the turmoil surrounding digital and data today will ultimately lead to the end result being more effective and efficient.

With 21 years at WPP, Menon is a consumer-obsessed, brand-junkie who is passionate about creating meaningful brand experiences for the people who buy and love them. He believes that the use of creative content, technology and data intelligently and seamlessly has the power to transform this one-sided advertising-led relationship of the past into what consumers really want in this experience-driven economy. caught up with Menon on the sidelines of WPP India’s data summit ‘Date with data’ to discuss some of the pressing issues plaguing digital marketing today.


What is your take on FMCG brands such as P&G cutting their digital budgets? Are brands losing faith in digital and its measurability claim?

I don't think so. In fact, I believe the pressure on both agencies and on brand managers to make the content that we are putting out more convincing will basically make the end result more efficient and effective. Because, for one, brands are cutting spends so you only have a finite amount of money to use. In that finite amount of money, you have to have more conversions and as a result, the work you do needs to be more effective. These forces will just make us better in what we do.

How much impact do you think the draft bill on data privacy will have on increasing the faith of brands in digital?

A lot of policies have been put in place but the implementation has been flawed. Take the whole UIDAI argument. It is actually a great thing to do. The best countries in the world have a single identifier for every single person in the country and it helps people join up for services and it helps make lives simpler. But here, Aadhaar made life more complicated. So, I think it is not so much about getting the right policy in place as it is about implementing that policy effectively and not letting it get caught up in politics. In every industry, Europe has been the best at regulation. Whether is emission standards or automotives or design standards, Europe has been excellent and for years the rest of the world just borrowed from them. So, the same thing is going to happen here. They have put a lot of rigour into GDPR, it would be most logical for markets to just take it and localise it and apply it. But it has to be applied, implemented, policed and regulated properly.

According to a study, Indian consumers are least concerned about privacy of data online. Then how does one undertake this tightrope walk of giving brands the relevant data without hurting the consumer's interest?

I think it is a flawed argument that people don't care. It is just that the percentage of people who care today isn't as big. E-commerce, for instance, today is a small part of the total Indian commerce revenue. When that becomes bigger and more people start putting their credit card information on e-commerce websites and their data is out in public, then people will care.

How do you see digital advertising growing in the country and brands embracing the same? Some key trends that you see in digital advertising in India.

I think the trends will be same as everywhere else in the country. But one amazing thing I recently heard about was NDTV Hop. That product doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. India has a portrait TV channel. So, it is a question of what news trends will come to India from somewhere else, rather the question is about what new things might that happen in India will be adopted elsewhere in the world.

Despite the immense potential digital has in the country, why do you think India is not known for creativity in digital, globally?

A whole lot of things have to work out for a piece of work to win. A client with a great brief, a great idea that comes in response to the brief and actually gets executed, these are the factors that go behind a winning work. But I am someone who believes in the Effies — work that works. And some of the best work that works comes out of here. The ‘Life saving dot’ campaign was such a cool idea and was also a solution to a real problem at the same time.

How can brands leverage data for ROI?

Every single piece of data you have needs to do one of these two things to either grow something or make something more efficient. Take the example of Pepperfry. One thing that Pepperfry does is that they look at every single piece of data as a whole. So, it is not just about search and browsing data, they also look at where people are buying from and where they are shipping products to. This enables them to determine where to put their warehouses and that in turn reduces their shipping cost and makes deliveries quicker.

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