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Today, digital is about hyper specialisation: Ashish Bhasin

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MUMBAI: When large network companies are looking at acquiring smaller speciailsed digital agencies, the Dentsu Aegis Network, which was formulated last year, has taken a different step.

The network has formed a digital council with CEOs of its three digital specialist companies – iProspectCommunicate2, Isobar and Webchutney. The council will be led by iProspectCommunicate 2 MD Vivek Bhargava, Isobar India MD Shamsuddin Jasani and Webchutney CEO & co-founder, Sidharth Rao.

Dentsu Aegis Network Chairman & CEO South Asia Ashish Bhasin speaks at length on the newly-formed digital council, the agency’s plan for its digital businesses and much more…

The Denstu Aegis Network already has rich talent pool. How has acquiring digital boutique agencies helped you?

In early days when we were Aegis media, I was very clear that digital will play an extremely important role in marketing in the days to come. That is the very reason why we invested on the first digital agency of the network - isobar. The organic start up picked up really well, the agency that had just two people on board then has over 100 professionals today. At present, isobar is a full service agency with creative at its heart.

We also started observing that search will soon be an integral part of our lives. This thought turned into a fact as mobile and internet penetration is today exploding in the country. Keeping this in mind, we partnered with our global digital agency iProspect. We could have gone ahead to set up a search agency but that would have taken a longer period of time. It was soon after that we acquired Communicate 2 which is one of the leading agencies in the search space which then was renamed to iProspect Communicate 2.

After the Denstu Aegis merger, we further got lucky to get on board WebChutney. Today, digital is all about hyper specialisation and I think with such rich talent in house, it has only taken our businesses to the next level.

What will be the role of the digital council?

The objective is very clear, while we have specialised talent on board, we wanted to bring them together. While each of them operating independently we thought why not create a body that can influence the industry as a whole. Digital as a segment needs to be understood by certain clients and is becoming very important for many of them. With the council, there will be ways and means by which all the three agencies can be an influencer to a client. 

How do you think will the council help in the overall functioning of the network?

With 500 digital specialists and the three leading digital specialist companies in India as part of our group, we will look forward to add best talent to our network. The vision is basically to make sure that we remain consistent in our work and be at par with the global standards. To create a consolidated vision together this will help us scale up the business.

How much does digital account for the network’s revenue?

All I can tell you is that 40 per cent of our talent is working on digital. This is a marketing leading proportion. Also, both in India and globally, we get a relevant proportion of our revenue from digital.

With digital been an integral part of a brand’s media plan today, how has marketers’ briefs and demands changed?

There are various kinds of marketers; some who are very digital savvy with a good understanding of the medium while there are some who know that digital is no longer a medium to experiment with but need it to build the communication plans. These are the multinationals and global players. The other set of clients are the smaller ones which are just stepping up to leverage the medium.

We are going to invest heavily on technology. All the three digital agencies are now expected to have a common tech platform so that we are able to give solutions on these grounds. Social media is also another area where clients are demanding to integrate in the overall digital communication strategy. 

It is not about media plan any more, it is about bringing in digital as an integral part of the communication strategy.

What are the other plans lined up for the digital side of the business?

One aspect that we will be investing time on is to bring best global practices in India. We believe it is time to bring across world class campaigns and move beyond the basic hygiene work.  

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