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Content and first-party data to dominate Martin Sorrell’s India plan for S4 Capital

Speaking on the first day of IAA World Congress 2019, Sorrell spoke about the advertising landscape in India and his expansion plans for S4 Capital. D Shivakumar of Aditya Birla Group spoke about how digital is now as mainstream as other platforms

Martin Sorrell

Revealing his grand plans for S4 Capital, the agency that's likely to be launched in India by the end of this month, Martin Sorrell said digital content along with data was changing the advertising landscape in the country and that's what his agency was focusing on capitalising.

Speaking on the first day of IAA World Congress 2019, Sorrell, the Executive Chairman of S4 Capital, highlighted the growing influence of digital and the looming area of content.

He said that there are three areas of significant growth — digital content, data and media planning and buying. “First-party data is driving digital content and media planning and buying,” he observed.

Talking about setting up operations in India, Sorrell said that they were ready to set up shop in the coming few days. “We would take content, and develop content in many ways, insert data for programmatic media planning and buying targeted at consumers,” he said.

Talking about the likes of WPP, Publicis, Omnicom and IPG Group, he said consolidation takes time. “Dentsu Aegis Network’s business model is the closest to that of S4Capital,” remarked Sorrell.

Speaking about transparency, he said that the market in India will change. Clients are becoming concerned about transparency in content and media too — and it’s got to be faster, better and cheaper. He also spoke about the traditional media and digital transformation in the context that traditional media is here to stay in India, and about developing digital in an effective way. He said the digital was yet to realise its full potential in India.

Sorrell also pointed out that in-housing is a two-way street, wherein it is about the interest of the client and the agency. “Also, you got to think about long term to deliver to the society, and not just for short terms,” he said.

Also speaking on day one of IAA, D Shivakumar, Group Executive President, Strategy and Business Development, Aditya Birla Group, spoke about how legacy brands were taking the digital route.

Shivakumar introduced the audience to the DUCA (digitally unacceptable content and attitude) world. He mentioned that digital had become mainstream.

He said digital world consumers are more aware and more cynical and more distrusting. He said people trust people like themselves. In a digital world, it is society and not the company stakeholder or the board of the company that matters.

“If you need to build trust you need to build that trust in society,” said Shivakumar. He also shared nine lessons for brands to survive in the digital age. Firstly, collective experience is a dominant force. Secondly, internal culture and speed of a company matters.

Thirdly, the battle between ethical and legal. All ethical actions might not be legal, but all legal actions are ethical, he said. Fourthly, heritage is a driver of trust and reliability is the foundation of trust.

Fifth, he spoke about data handling; what will the brands do with it as privacy is big issue and sixth, brands should self-regulate, should have same standards for transparency for brands and partners.

Seventh, it is not just the youth that the brands cater to — it’s the entire eco-system that needs to be kept in mind. Eighth, brands should have clear social media guidelines. And ninth, junior people should not handle the social handles of senior agreement.

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