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Lack of digital measurement is industry’s collective failure: DAN’s Ashish Bhasin

Bhasin, who is also the chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network India, was elevated to the APAC role in September this year. Measurement is one big area of his concern, Bhasin told ET. “It surprises me that for an industry where everybody is talking digital, we haven’t yet agreed on a common currency or metrics.”

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Dec 24, 2019, 07.07 AM IST
Ashish Bhasin CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network, Asia Pacific
Mumbai: At a time when the digital media is growing at a much faster clip than traditional mediums, the sector having no agreed or common measurement metric is baffling, said Ashish Bhasin, chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network’s (DAN) Asia Pacific operations.

Bhasin, who is also the chairman of DAN India, was elevated to the APAC role in September this year.

Measurement is one big area of his concern, Bhasin told ET.

“It surprises me that for an industry where everybody is talking digital, we haven’t yet agreed on a common currency or metrics.”

“Everybody wanted to solve that puzzle, everybody made the right noises, but it was a failing of us as an industry that we haven't been able to do it,” he said.

All the stakeholders need to arrive at a common consensus and get a measurement system off the ground on which all agree. “At least the basics, then you can go on fine-tuning it and improving it. If you keep trying to discuss every single possible angle, either it will become too expensive or so unviable that you will never get it off the ground,” he said.

Incidentally, BARC India, the joint industry body formed for the TV viewership measurement, had announced digital measurement product – Ekam – however, in absence of a consensus, it is yet to start.

Bhasin added he is optimistic that in the next two years, there will be a digital measurement.

Many media agency experts as well as advertisers have raised concerns over lack of digital measurement metrics in the past as different players use different yardsticks. There is no consensus on what constitute as a view, and different players count three, six or 10 seconds as one view.

“Currently, everybody comes up with their own numbers. It's a bit like trading in a marketplace where you're paying in rupees and others in dollars or yen or in euros. Can you imagine what a chaos it will be if everybody was paying with a different currency? I think that’s where we are heading, unless we come to a common agreed currency,” Bhasin added.

As per DAN’s digital advertising report, in 2020, digital is going to be the second largest medium in the country. “We don't have basic agreement as to what are the agreed metrics, what is agreed measurement itself for the second largest medium...it’s a pity,” he said.

He said that Indian media and advertising industry also has to focus on attracting right talent. “This is no longer an industry where best talent wants to come to. Our entire focus has been on poaching from each other, rather than create an ecosystem where we grow more talent and make ourselves more attractive to that talent. As an industry in India we've let ourselves down.”

On the need of digital transformation, Bhasin warned that those legacy creative or media agencies, which don’t change with time, will perish fast.

“As an industry, advertising agencies have been pretty slow and now they're trying to play catch up,” he said. “I think, because we had future-proofed ourselves that really worked very well for us, otherwise we would have also struggled like most of our competitors are struggling.”

Bhasin added that most agencies have ignored the digital transformation at their peril. “I think the era of those dinosaur-ish old world creative agencies, who were only used to making 30 second TVC ads or 100 cc print ads, and now trying to make it for digital formats or digital billboard, that era has gone. Those dinosaurs will perish faster than what we think. And I think the agency landscape five years from now will be very, very different from what it is today.”

He also cautioned that digital transformation is not only about building capabilities, but about changing the DNA of the organisation. “The whole process of consolidation will definitely happen and some old world traditional creative agencies will suddenly start acquiring some digital agencies and think that that's the way they will digitise. I think they will fall flat on their face. Because they might end up pulling down the digital agencies, unless they change their old DNA,” he said.

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