Having launched over a decade-and-a-half back, LS Digital shares the belief that digital marketing transformation is not ‘yet another thing’, but has to really work like an enabler or a catalyst in customer journeys which span across six areas- media, UI and UX, customer experience, creative and communications, data and insights, and innovation and technology.
As per Prasad Shejale, Co-founder and CEO, LS Digital, the acquisition of the three specialised agencies- Langoor, F1 Studioz and Social Panga are all a part of the group’s aim of transforming digital marketing across the aforementioned six areas.
“If you look at advertising overall for the last few years, you may observe that there has been a template from an agency standpoint wherein a company grows to a specific level and becomes a part of a global player in the market and that too to an extent that the identity of something that you start with as an entrepreneur gets diluted over a course of time,” opined Himanshu Arora, Co-Founder, Social Panga.
In his views, when an entrepreneur starts his/her journey, as a founder, there is always a mission to it and that along with the vision keeps changing over the course of time, but the one thing that never changes is to build something that he/she is extremely proud of.
“After running Social Panga for nine years, our thought process remains the same that we have to build something which is big enough to think about and something that nobody has thought about in the industry,” he added.
Arora further went on to emphasise that while there are several global networks that come to India and expand their wings, there are none which come from or are rooted in India that have embarked on the journey of digital transformation.
That’s precisely how the seed of merging with LS Digital came into being- the thought of the eight founders coming together to create something that can not only create magic but has an exponential piece of magical work coming out in the global space.
“We are a part of the group and the way we're looking at it is that we all, as Prasad says, are founders in the group and are responsible for driving the vision forward- coming from India, roots from India, and expanding in the global market as a simple thought process,” he added.
Taking up from here, Shejale also pointed out that when the eight co-founders- two from Langur, two from F1Studioz, and two from Social Panga, come together and have equity in the group, thereby meaning everybody has their skin in the game, the whole team becomes one good force when it comes to having the skills and understanding of what customer problems are required to be solved and how to improve the operations.
“We are going to make a huge dent in the US in the digital marketing transformation, and make money in the process,” he said, quite confidently.
Touching upon how is he looking at the cultural synchronisation between the two agencies in the aftermath of joining LS Digital, Social Panga’s Arora at once drew a line of similarity between how India which is home to 29 states with varied sets of cultures but is united by one single vision and therefore when different specialised agencies under LS digital with the different offerings come on board with one single vision of building something out of India from a global standpoint.
“From a cultural point of view, there is no change to it, rather it is in a bigger and more empowering space where we see a larger and bigger picture at a group level. Moreover, when something happens for the first time, it's only obvious that people will have their own uncertainties, both internal and external, which will lead to different narratives. But when the idea that the overall group wants to achieve is to crack the numbers to go public in addition to going global in terms of acquisitions, all the pieces of the story need to come together,” he added.
The most beautiful piece of the uniting of three separate specialised agencies under LS Digital in his viewpoint is that while all partners have different kinds of clients, everyone has a complementary skill set that helps create true magic for clients.
“The simple thought process of joining hands with LS Digital was that we wanted to do something on our own and not be bounded by other constraints whilst sticking to our Panga DNA. I wanted my people to grow and not restrict or get bucketed or siloed in our services ” he added.
Commenting on the objectives that they’re trying to achieve together in the long run, Arora stated that while there have been networks and agencies who have worked in silos, having specialisation in one’s own space has its own merits, which is why when four specialised setups come together to give one solution from a brand standpoint, they don't think at media, creative, CX or any other piece separately and that its all about one solution.
“What we want to achieve is to build on that gap and vacuum which have been created by n number of players in the market in the last few years,” he said.
With regards to the short-term objectives, Shejale commented that the focus is on coming out with great innovations across the six areas, being truly integrated and actually having the ability to sell integrated solutions.
“And all these three things we’ve already figured out since we’ve been tackling these issues for the last nine months now, with Langoor and F1 Studioz, and we have won many accounts jointly. That being said, one thing that’s there on each and every co-founder’s plate as of now is our vision of becoming the first digital ad agency from and rooted in India to not just have a global presence but actually acquire agencies in the international diaspora,” he said.
With this aim of really wanting to spread their wings globally, he also pointed out that with the services and benefits that the group gets from the great people that India has, LS Digital can probably replicate what TCS did in the IT domain in the 1990s, but in digital marketing transformation since the precedence and the right time, both are there at hand.
In his view, while the upside for LS Digital in the digital marketing transformation journey is the group itself, some of the checkboxes that the to-be TCS of digital marketing looks at when it comes to acquisition is that the founders have to be passionate to change the world, first and foremost, and fall in line with the group’s vision of coming up with solutions that can transform the domain of digital marketing.
“With the group that we have become now, this year, we are going to do around Rs 90-100 crore worth EBIT,” he said.
Following this, he also emphasised that since LS Digital now aims to become big, for the next acquisitions, the group will carefully tread the path and look at things size-wise and will only go for the big ones in the times to come.
“What we're also looking for is access to the markets, because we now have all the skills in the six areas, so if we can get access to a country through some founders in there, it's something that we would look for,” he added.
Earlier, LS Digital also told BestMediaInfo.com about its plans to file for an IPO which will only be the beginning of something which is going to happen for the first time in the digital marketing ecosystem- a digital ad agency setting up its shops and even acquiring other agencies in the Middle East, the US and the UK, now that the group has become ‘sizably big’
With this, Shejale also pointed out that if the agency integration works well, the IPO will be LS Digital’s entry into the global market to raise funds, acquire bigger companies, set up bigger offices, reach out to bigger customers and make a bigger marketing push.
That being said, F1 Studioz, in Shejale’s viewpoint is ‘very strong’ in Europe and the US, so much so that almost 85% of their business comes from the non-India market and Langoor is already in a global space where almost 72% of their revenue comes from outside India.