S Yesudas, former Managing Director of Vizeum Media Services India, Agency under Dentsu Aegis Network, has launched his own venture named ‘triggerbridge’.
Yesu, started of his journey in Media in 1991 with D’cunha Associates and over a period spanning 25 years has worked in a host of reputed Advertising Agencies in India and abroad. He has contributed immensely in structuring Vizeum India from scratch to a Premium Agency in the Country and he aspires to replicate his success stories with his own venture too.
Here he speaks exclusively to tvnews4u.com on the transitions of the Industry from its low levels of complexities to now and how the ‘triggerbridge’ will function as the only holistic brand centered around consumer solution.
1)You have come a long way, and with the rich haul of experience in Media. How has the transition from your daCunha Associates days to now. For some one who has seen the media industry evolve can we simplify it ?
I consider myself as one of those fortunate people in our business, who has been able to witness multiple large-scale changes that impacted the very way our business was/is being conducted, first it was in 1995, with the invasion from the sky, Satellite TV became a reality. Content became king. But the king also needed the blessing of God. So cable operators became God. From standing in queue to buy a TV spot before Chitrahaar and Chayageet, it became mid-break spots with a premium. Doordarshan (DD) and Satellite broadcasters became rivals. Sooner than later, satellite began taking the sheen away from DD as DD failed to either be relevant based on foresight or reactive after the occurrence.
Along with this also came media specialization, genesis being aggregation. With airtime supply more than demand, requirements pooled in together, stood the chance of great bargains. And usage of certain optimization tools with human intervention also enabled clients to pick up the best spots. The 15% agency commission broke down. While some agencies resisted the change, others set up their own media specialists. AAAI as the governing body ruled that the commission could be split as 12.5 and 2.5 between creative and media agencies, respectively.
Then came the dot com. Yes the bubble burst, which in my view, is, largely based on infrastructural issues as well as the behavior of the business owners. Any business that’s slightly ahead of its time needs huge conviction and staying power. Unfortunately people kept jumping into the bandwagon in search of gold without the understanding that mining is a long drawn process. Those who stayed finally found precious stones.
In the next phase, we saw media agencies take the business lead. The 12.5% that belonged to the creative agencies disappeared in thin air as clients questioned the logic of paying repeated commission for an ad, once created, after paying its production cost. Fixed retainer fee came into existence irrespective of the quantum of ad spends.
The next phase saw a new breed of specialized service providers, particularly digital and others such as activation, OOH, rural and the then one stop shop, media agency, started losing businesses. Media agencies reacted by creating many specialized verticals, most set up as profit centers.
I have always been a big believer of the digital revolution. Way back in 2000, when digital was still a lip service which ended up largely with a web site for many, I had launched Lintas’ first foray into digital, Digital Initiatives. In my article in 2000, in the then famous magazine A&M, titled “New Paradigms” I had written about how digital will revolutionize the world of advertising. Although it is just a billion dollar advertising business today, I expect it to be 4 billion plus in about 4 years from now.
The phase that will follow will be a phase of some real disruption. Digital will truly become the glue that will hold every brand action together. The ad agency model will change and agencies will lose their business as we will see emergence of solution providers who will, without profit norms and only money making goals, stitch together solutions that’s good for the ‘brand’ from a holistic perspective and with a long term view.
2) Media is people’s biz and how would you rate the current set of professionals to that of yesteryear’s? I specifically ask this because you are one person who tremendously believes in the power people ?
The good thing is that people who grew with the evolution, which makes them capable of having a good foresight, head many of the media agencies. But unfortunately being part large global set ups, their priorities are different. Leaders normally attract people based on what they want achieved. As a result, one sees some people in the business, who believe consumer is some alien sitting in computer hard drives, even if the person making the plan falls within the same set of consumer definitions. This is also true for some clients’ side. The focus is nothing beyond the next quarter. I can only blame the organizational culture on this. There are brilliant people available today who are willing to associate with a purpose with a long terms view. But if the organization’s vision is to be playing the numbers game, people who believe in quick transactions are the ones who get associated with such thinking. Consequently the quality of product and thinking that goes out to clients and consumers will also be based on those ‘quick transactions’ The advertising/media business is not doing anything much to produce talent as the focus has always been poaching from each other.
3) Times have changed now, and how challenging is it for Media Agencies to work with clients, given the current % of commission offered by the client isn’t what one would call as lucrative ?
If the business is not lucrative enough, we wouldn’t have seen global players staying on field. Most sensible clients pay based on what they see as contributions. When I launched Vizeum (media agency from Dentsu Aegis Network) in the country, my last assignment, there have been multiple cases of clients paying us more remuneration compared to what they were paying their previous media agencies. Having said that, I have also come across clients who get pennywise pound-foolish. Eventually they end up also with deliverables to match that thinking.
4) How’s life, now that you have turned a Media entrepreneur?
Life as an entrepreneur is extremely exciting. I’m enjoying the freedom to chart the course that I’m convinced about. The fact that I don’t need 100 approvals to do what is right for a brand nor do I need to bother about some ratios or profitability norms, has uncorked a flurry of creative solutions and possibilities. We will surely disrupt the advertising business. Our solutions will assist brands in making enduring connections with consumers, as many brands will, sooner than later, start marketing “for” consumers.
5) What is “triggerbridge” all about? Can you explain. Your partners and their role?
triggerbridge is the unagency and truly the only holistic brand centered consumer connection solution that exists today. As Mr Uday Kotak said in his latest interview in the Economic Times, almost all companies will have existential issues in the next 5 years. I believe many companies have not been able to differentiate between digital transformation and process automation. Consumers are some loyalty program numbers or phone numbers or flat numbers etc for many brand owners, as they fall on top of each of other trying to ‘buy’ higher share of voice.
Our focus is to work with few like-minded brands as we hold each other’s hands to navigate the current eco system and deploy our anticipatory skills to plan for the future. We would work hard to develop a ‘purpose’ for the brands those trust us. We will then let those brands make multi-sensorial connections with consumers based on 3 interventions content, technology and data. We are sure brand love will start from here. We will have just one P&L, in reality and no soiled verticals. We will begin with a general diagnosis and not heart surgery of the brands as it happens today. We will treat the cause and not symptoms. We will also measure the impact through Share of Vision (SoV) and Share of Empathy (SoE) and not Share of Voice and Share of Expenditure. The unagency is also investing in creating certain IPs/Platform moving the business from a pure service one, with a view to adding value to our clients, in the area of e-commerce, story telling and technology solutions for marketing challenges.
As you know, Ajit Nair who has been successfully running MX Advertising for close to 25 years and Amit Tripathi who has been also successfully running IdeateLabs for 15 years and with me with 2 decades of media, consumers, data and brands understanding are the promoters of triggerbridge. We are also bringing the operation of MX and Ideate together to give triggerbridge the kickstart. 3 of us bring in different and complimentary skill sets and the same vision on the future of our business. We have, therefore, been able to also clearly carve out the roles responsibilities, keeping our vision and ambitions in mind.
6) For now it must be a huge challenge ahead ?
We see it as a lot of excitement than challenge. We are actually building something that doesn’t exist. We call it future-proofing. The response to our thinking, which we are generating, is also extremely encouraging.