DAN’s CEO touts the importance of digital transformation

This is a continuation from the 1st part of the interview at 

In terms of content creation, first party data and programmatic advertising, Bhasin feels that data is prevalent in everything we do these days.

“Our digital footprints provide enormous amounts of data for marketers, and everyone is talking about big data, but does anyone really know what this is all about?” he asks.

“There’s a famous phrase in advertising that goes something like this, “50 percent of my advertising spend is wasted, but I don’t know which half is it,” he states.

With data, targeting is a lot more efficient and advertising is thus greatly focused to the desired demographics.

Programmatic advertising is based on this premise, and in the digital age, its simply impossible to plan campaigns over a million websites, for example, in a manual fashion.

Everything is interdependent, as data is being generated, those who are able to analyze it and use it in more efficient ways stands to benefit greatly from it.

DAN made a huge investment in acquiring Merkle, a data-driven performance marketing agency that specializes in the delivery of unique, personalized digital customer experiences.

“We are heading to an era of hyper personalization, with minimal wastages,” he adds.

Some quarters have stated technology and data driven performance metrics could cause the creative work being produced becoming less compelling. Bhasin agrees to disagree.

“Look, we are in the business of ideas, and that’s never going to go away…everything that we have these days in terms of data is about making our understanding of the subject matter better, and making the communication of certain aspects much sharper to the consumer,” he added.

“The fact is, some things just do not change..when it comes to human emotions, we still laugh, cry, and there are things that warm the very cockles of your heart, while some things may just leave you unmoved,” he explains.

At DAN, he states that creativity is still at the heart of everything that they do. They may have best in class technologies, experts in each chosen field and so on, but their ethos is fundamentally grounded in creativity.

“At the end of the day, the business of advertising has to be creatively led,” he states. Bhasin thinks that there is a need for advertising agencies to fundamentally change the way they serve clients today.

“I believe at least 50 percent of agencies today will no longer be around in the future. Some are just still stuck in the past,” he stresses.

He thinks it’s time for businesses to buck up and face the reality of the evolving marketplace.

The recent news of Accenture acquiring the fiercely independent Droga5 advertising agency is also something that Bhasin feels need to be touched upon in this discussion as well.

“Globally, when I listen to the CEOs of holding companies saying that consultancies are seen as a threat to the advertising agencies, I do not necessarily agree with that assumption,” he explains.

He feels that the consultancies do the strategic part very well, as they have a larger relationship with the client.

In his opinion, these consultancies in turn charge hefty fees for the expertise, but they are not good at the last-mile in terms of implementation and getting it all done in a cost-effective manner.

“Clients in this region have no appetite for this as they want scalable implementations in a cost effective way,” he added.

“In India for example, we opened DAN Consult, and rather than waiting for Accenture to eat my lunch, I’m going to eat theirs first,” he states.

They have added a layer of consulting expertise made up of strategic planners and other specialists to offer something different to clients.

He feels that it is going to be harder for consultancies like Accenture to do battle on the advertising front as they will struggle to make sense of it all.

“In my opinion, if advertising agencies show more guts and courage to step up to the plate, it could really be the start of a new wave of advancement for the marketplace as a whole,” he explains.

Advertising agencies that make the investment to offer this extra layer of expertise will also have the opportunity to charge more for their premium offerings in the future, which in turn will create more profitability to their balance sheets in the future.

“In terms of DAN’s revenue generation, almost 60 percent of it comes from the digital space. It’s all about being dynamic, nimble and agile in this day and age,” he declares.

The shift of power is always evolving and the shift towards digital is blurring lines between media, creative and account management.

“In short, clients don’t really care about where and how the ideas come from, it’s just about results, and that’s the real deal,” he concludes.

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