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Industry Snapshot: Fusion 5’s Natale Panella and Samran Waheed

Natale Panella and Samran Waheed, heads of digital planning, Fusion 5

WHICH MARKETS ARE MOST INTERESTING TO YOU, AND WHY?
The market that has 1.3 billion consumers, more than 2,000 ethnic groups and 22 spoken
languages across 4,000 cities. India is the market that interests us the most. Not just because of the emerging economy and vast array of growing sectors, but simply because of the complexity involved in understanding the nuances of this market from a consumer perspective. As media professionals, our foremost task is to understand the audience, and a market like India where the same marketing communication could be completely alien for the next-door neighbour makes media planning an engaging challenge.

WHICH SECTORS WILL SHOW THE MOST GROWTH FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
FMCG, but not in the immediate future; rather in the next five years. E-commerce is rising at a very healthy rate in the region, but when consumer confidence in online purchases grows, and it becomes a norm in the region, FMCG e-commerce sales will skyrocket. Currently we can safely claim that across FMCGs, 3-5 per cent of their revenue is generated via e-commerce, but this will rise drastically. It’s a matter of time, and the competition will be very fierce amongst the P&Gs and RBs of the world to gain share. The battle will move to digital from in-store.

HOW SHOULD CLIENTS CHOOSE BETWEEN MEDIA AGENCIES?
Clients should look for one thing that matters the most: product. Today, due to the competitive environment as agencies struggle to gain a tiny share of the pie (not to mention big consultancies also posing a threat in this sector), agility, commercial rates, client servicing and proactivity are always on the menu and easily acquired. What they can’t create, or even fake, in the long run is their product, which is a broth of their strategic framework, past results, tools and employee passion. If you find the account execs and managers exuberant, you are engaging with the right agency.

WHAT ARE THE COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGES OF NETWORK AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES, AND HOW IS THIS CHANGING?
It depends on the business in question. For local business or business with a primary focus on the local market it should make no difference whether the agency has a global footprint or not. Actually, in most metrics the independent agencies can cater to client needs better because of their flexible internal structures and processes. However, for big conglomerates, partially due to political reasons, but mostly due to their scale and leverage, network agencies would be a better choice.

The only visible change is that network agencies today are competing with the independent agencies on local fronts due to lower marketing budgets from their existing clients. The market is getting more competitive and offerings are being diversified.

WHAT SKILLSETS ARE BECOMING MORE AND LESS IMPORTANT IN THE AGENCY?
Nothing is becoming less important, but a lot is becoming more important. Performance capabilities, adoption of new technologies, competitive commercial offering, the spectrum of solutions and offerings, and agility are the top five services that are gaining clients’ attention and requirements.

WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE THAT YOU DIDN’T FIVE YEARS AGO?
Attribution of results has become a core topic in clients’ conversations, where understanding the impact of each channel in the media mix is directly affecting budgeting decisions. Evaluating the right attribution model, based on client vertical and goals, is a key success factor that guarantees smooth optimisation and the achievement of long-term goals.

WHAT HAVE CLIENTS STARTED ASKING FOR IN THE PAST YEAR?
We have seen that data visualisation and customisation of the information available from our campaigns has become fundamental to assessing campaigns’ performances. For this scope, we have adopted new tools that will allow us to manage interactive dashboards for our campaigns, by automatically collecting, integrating and elaborating data from hundreds of advertising platforms, with KPIs always updated with the latest figures. The dashboards will be customised based on the campaigns’ objectives and the media mix and can be accessible at any time from any device.

HOW ARE CONSUMERS CHANGING, AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR YOUR WORK?
Consumers are rapidly changing in the region, requiring speed and convenience, and a high level of personalisation, with higher price sensitivity than in the past. In our work, this translates to being able to adopt lean strategies to increase the efficiency of media spending, by being able to identify the customer journey through social listening and analytics and maximise return on investment.

WHAT EFFECT IS TECHNOLOGY HAVING ON YOUR BUSINESS?
Technology is fully driving the change in our industry. It allows us to scale our business from a local perspective to a global scope in just a few steps. Process automation is affecting agency operations and day-to-day campaign execution, allowing us to engage existing resources into deeper analysis and insights. Lastly, tech integrations with multiple sales tools connect the media planning and buying activity with the organisation’s business results seamlessly, and this allows us to better align client corporate objectives with the agency.

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