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Fireside Chat With Anil Pandit, Senior VP, Lead Precision, Programmatic India at Publicis Media

1. Give us a little intro about yourself and the role at your company.

I have been in the media space for almost 2 decades now with a rich experience spanning both the sell-side and the buy-side in the industry. On the Programmatic front, I have been one of the early proponents and have helped international DSP platforms establish their ‘Programmatic Practice’ in India. I have been fortunate to have been involved in helping many brands in their journey of adoption of this data and ad-tech enabled practice. I have also been a speaker/trainer on Programmatic and Data-Driven Advertising as guest faculty in IIM B, IMT, and IMI.

Currently, I am heading the Programmatic Practice for the Publicis Media Group (Sr Vice President) in India across all its agency brands namely Zenith, Starcom and Performics. Previously, I was at Omnicom Media Group and was instrumental in setting up and driving the OMG Programmatic vertical in India (OMD and PhD). I have had the opportunity to work across sectors like Automobile, FMCG, BFSI, IT/ITES, Travel & Hospitality, Telecom, eCommerce and OTT. Before Omnicom, I worked with Microad India (Cyberagent Group, Japan), People Group, India Today and Times of India.

My task has been to accelerate the growth of Publicis Media’s programmatic capability, called Precision, across the agencies by providing agency teams’ access to expert data, technology capabilities and solutions – that will deliver superior client value through greater effectiveness and media efficiency. I am also working with the global team to bring in the full programmatic capabilities to India which would help in creating a sharp client lens coupled with operational ad -tech to deliver faster and more scalable impact for our clients.

2. What can you tell us about the martech landscape in India and how has this shifted with the incorporation of machine learning?

A lot of investments are happening on the martech front in India but the real ‘’Customer Truth’’ still eludes us. The focus should be given to newer technologies that bring together the big data as well as small data based on research and surveys to unravel customer experiences which can further inform decisions creating consistency to all business problems.

‘’Immediacy’’ and ‘’Relevance’’ are two key guiding principles today for every marketer who is trying to not only reach his consumers but even delight him and CMOs have started deploying new tools and platforms to help him get closer to this dream. Marketing automation is the most exciting opportunity for brands over the next few years. Marketers have realised increased efficiencies that automation can provide and hence focus on machine- learning has gained momentum to streamlining processes by removing some of the moving parts and improving consistencies which are key for good customer experiences

This increased investment in martech is impacting the media spend of brands variable across regions. It indicates that increased martech spend could actually be increasing efficiencies, helping marketers understand where their budget is best being spent, as, across all regions, respondents were most likely to see the impact of tech as a decrease in media spend.

According to a recent Marketing Technology ROI survey, marketers using an optimized martech stack are witnessing measurable success – from boosting the overall marketing ROI to improving speed to market and enabling superior decision-making.

The use cases of martech are umpteen – from AI-driven content marketing, advertising to one-on-one customer engagement through chatbots, intelligent lead nurturing and segmentation. Indian companies across sectors such as BFSI, e-commerce, and retail are frontrunners in embracing martech. I feel while India has come to realise the importance of martech tools, the need and the challenge now is to integrate all of them so that it helps create a seamless story of effectiveness and efficiency and showing positive signs of ROI. I see India transitioning from ‘’WHY’’ to ‘’HOW.’’

3. How does your company utilize data to its full capacity?

With martech in mind, data skills are vital to providing a return on investment. The ‘fuel’ and the output of the majority of marketing technology tools is data, so the ability to clean, organise, integrate and pull insights from data is paramount for brands invested in martech.

The martech sector has now reached a tipping point for brands and agencies worldwide and even in India with more tools being deployed due to higher budgets or greater confidence in the combined, collaborative approach. The opportunity for agencies is to win the trust of brands by demonstrating superior and agile use of data and this is exactly what Publicis Media is good at and proud of. We have realised this quite early and have taken all steps in addressing the ‘’Data Needs’’ of our clients by having dedicated and skilled teams for the same. We have realised that the specificity of tools available has increased, which has had a knock-on effect on the need for clean, detailed and specific customer data to power them and ensure their effectiveness.

We are ensuring to provide a consultative role if needed, working towards partnerships with brands that are transparent with clear objectives. We are aware of the need for internal skills for onboarding, integration, analysis and insights and are prioritizing these skills internally to ensure that tech investment and increased control over this tech is effective.

We, at Publicis Media, focus on transparency, providing brands with added value in terms of expertise and return on investment. Agency/client relationships work best when there is expertise on both sides of the fence with respect to ‘’Data Play.’’

However, for both brands and agencies, the importance of tracking customers between devices, channels and off-to-online is the most exciting opportunity we see technology providing a solution for over the next few years. The continued focus on customer experience by brands means that those agencies that focus their offering on improving the CX as a service layer on top of technology and implementation, could see increased opportunity over the next 12 months.

4. Which zeotap data is mostly in demand? And how has it helped your clients?  Which industry verticals demand the most data, and which types of campaigns do you mostly run for these verticals?

Zeotap has been providing us with rich telco data which are more deterministic in nature as compared to other sources. We have been using them across our clients in BFSI, Hospitality, consumer technology and even CPG brands and have seen tremendous results across varied KPIs.

We have run mostly ‘’Awareness’’ campaigns, but we have also seen good results in campaigns targeted at the lower funnel. We have approached it in a holistic way where it has enabled us to reach the right TG at the top funnel which when driven through the entire funnel in a sequential manner has yielded returns at the lower funnel too.

5. Can you share with us a zeotap success story up to today?

There have been numerous success stories across many advertisers within the Publicis Media fold. One of them was where we had to reach out to people using handsets older than 1-3 years within the price range of 15-25K and show them Moto One Action handset. This targeting is not fully available on a DSP. We decided to buy this audience through third party data providers (zeotap). CTRs were one of our primary metrics and we saw CTR improving by 500% as compared to normal display campaigns.

6. If you had to choose one word to describe zeotap, what would that be? And how would you describe the team at zeotap? 

The Zeotap team has been amazing. We love their proactiveness and their readiness to address our data needs almost any time of the day or week. They have redefined data and made it usable through their superb technology, which has made it Programmatic friendly.

I would like to describe Zeotap as a ‘’Doer’’- a future-focused player which redefined ‘’data Usage’’ and actually made it implementable across advertisers, unlike others who just did the ‘’Lip service’’ with respect to data-driven advertising. I see them constantly coming up with newer ways of improving the quality of data being collected and even refining them.

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