• Thursday, October 02, 2014

MediaVest sets foot in Bangladesh

Md Fazlur Rahman

Starcom MediaVest Group has embarked on its journey in Bangladesh with a promise to produce quality media products, a top official of the global advertising agency said yesterday.

The subsidiary of Publicis Groupe, the world's third-largest communications group and second-largest media counsel, opened its office in the country in February. It will hold a ceremony at The Westin today to begin formal operations.

The US-based media agency is foraying into Bangladesh through a partnership with Grameenphone, the country's largest mobile phone operator, with whom it signed a deal in August.

MediaVest works with Telenor, which controls 55.8 percent of GP, across a number of markets around the world.

"We have the same partnership coming to realisation in Bangladesh," said Ranganathan Somanathan, chief operating officer of MediaVest for Southeast Asia.

"We will work with GP to get the best solutions as media specialists. As a leader of the communication world, Starcom MediaVest is in a very good position to be a leading company in Bangladesh as well," he told The Daily Star in an interview in Dhaka yesterday.

In Bangladesh, advertising spending stands at around Tk 200 crore a year, with televisions and newspapers controlling the majority, according to Somanathan who is based in Singapore.

Many of MediaVest's multinational clients operating in Bangladesh are looking for quality media solutions, and the US-based company plans to cater to them as well, Somanathan said. He spent a year in Dhaka to learn the ropes of the local industry.

"There are a lot of low hanging fruits in the country. There are opportunities across all clients who are not getting good media solutions," he said.

"Based on our assessment and understanding, media products in Bangladesh are not up to the mark."

Somanathan, 42, however said his company would not chase any targets in the Bangladesh market.

"The challenge for us is whether we are being able to create meaningful experiences for our clients. Our focus is always on doing a good job and delivering high-quality products and services. Then you start building your clientele."

As the number one advertising agency in the world MediaVest works with P&G, Coca-Cola and Samsung.

Somanathan said there is an opportunity for the research products to be more sophisticated in Bangladesh -- whether it is for TV data or readership or digital data.

Moving towards online measurement of consumer behaviour is also important in Bangladesh as the market has more than nine crore mobile subscribers, he said.

"With 3G connection at their disposal, these nine crore mobile subscribers will leap ahead of some of the western world in case of internet access," he said, adding that  lower prices of smart-phones and data plans will accelerate the internet's reach into the hands of people.

When people's first interaction with internet comes from their mobile phones, they leave behind a different set of data for advertising agencies to underline, he said.

Somanathan said his company's ability of data interpretation and forming recommendations will be far superior.

He said many consumers have already started consuming content on the digital space although marketers have not engaged themselves with the new communication media and have not created meaningful experiences for their customers. "The digital media has already developed and will develop further and become bigger and bigger. How we organise ourselves to leverage the force of the digital media will become critical."

Somanathan also touched upon digital transformation in the country although advertising spending on the new media platform is one of the lowest here.

Advertising spending on digital media is less than 2 percent of the total ad spending in Bangladesh, compared to about 5 percent globally, said Somanathan.

"There is massive digital transformation around the world including Bangladesh. We have to look at how we think about content and create solutions for the clients and their consumers."

Somanathan said the right policy framework is important so media owners can create invoices here and receive payments in taka and create content in Bangla.

He added, for example, if anybody wants to provide ads on Google and Yahoo the billing procedure becomes very complex, although they are among the top sites in Bangladesh.

 

fazlur.rahman@thedailystar.net

Published: 12:00 am Monday, September 01, 2014

Last modified: 11:15 pm Sunday, August 31, 2014

TAGS: Starcom MediaVest Group quality media products US-based media agency

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