Exclusive! Jaldi 5 with Rob Norman, Chief Digital Officer Global, GroupM: There’s no doubt mobile internet will be massive in India

13 May,2013

Meet Rob Norman. In August last year, he took charge as Chief Digital Officer of GroupM Global from the position of CEO of GroupM. The job requires him to oversee the world’s largest buyer of online media with more than $5 billion in billings.

 

Prior to taking this role in 2012, Mr Norman served as CEO of GroupM North America where he was responsible for the general management as well as strategic and administrative activities at each of GroupM’s four media agencies-Maxus, MEC, MediaCom and Mindshare.  He assumed that role in March 2010 after serving since 2007 as head of Group M Interaction.

 

Mr Norman has worked for more than two decades in the media agency business in a wide range of increasingly senior roles, mostly at MEC, where he was named UK Chairman in 2003.  He joined the company in 1986 prior to the merger, when the agency was known as CIA. In 2002, following the merger of CIA with Mediaedge, Mr Nomran was appointed Worldwide Director of New Business Development.

 

On the eve of his visit to India, Rob Norman addressed MxMIndia’s question and gave a special message to the fraternity in India.

 

 

A message for India as you embark on your visit here?

Millions of young people with a desire for media and connectivity is the most fertile imaginable ground for growth. Your telecom industry and the infrastructure it creates are an outstanding asset and if they provide access to bandwidth and devices they will be rewarded by high engagement from consumers, content creators and brands. Together this is a god recipe for economic growth.

 

01. As you oversee the the world’s largest buyer of online media, are you happy with the way the online media is progressing globally?

Yes, in broad terms. There is a direct relationship between e commerce as a % of GDP and online as a % of advertising. E-commerce depends on infrastructure in connections, payments and in retail and other sectors. Where those things are slow to develop so is online advertising.

 

02. Why do you think has the progress in markets like India been so slow?

Infrastructure. India has limited PC broadband distribution and limited smartphone penetration as a % of all phones. Not much is going to change the former but Airtel, Vodafone, Samsung and Android are changing the latter. There’s no doubt in my mind that the mobile internet will be massive in India.

 

03. In markets like India, consumption of mobile media has far overtaken that of computer-based. Given the growth of the smartphone market, do you see mobiles ahead of traditional large-screen-based internet?

Yes. The only barrier is keeping the price of data to the consumer down. There is a huge social and economic upside to a vibrant connected mobile population and wide distribution of devices, content and commerce depend on data pricing

 

04. One of reasons why the lack of quality advertising on digital in India is that the monies which agencies earn on digital is much lower. There aren’t million-dollar TV commercials and there are much lesser spends. Is this the scene globally? How do see things changing in markets like India?

This is an Indian challenge but a global one. The fragmentation of audiences and service / device proliferation allows sharper targeting by behaviour, geography and time. The economics of this are good for brands and it would be a terrible thing if brand owners invested more in the agencies that manage these channels and the assets required to populate them.

 

05. Do you see the return of full-service agencies in digital given that clients are desirous of all services under one roof?

No. Structurally, the full service model is dead. It needs to be replaced by client mandated behaviors that align the financial incentives of disparate experts.

 

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