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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Publicis beefs up digital ops with Convonix buy

This story first appeared in DNA Money edition on Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013.

Publicis Groupe, the world’s third-largest communications firm, has acquired Convonix, a marketing and consultancy firm, as part of its plan to beef up its digital presence in India.

The company plans to make more buyouts in the coming months.

Srikant Sastri, country chair, VivaKi India, a Publicis Groupe company, told DNA Money, “We have some more acquisitions in the pipeline. Hopefully, in the next 4-6 weeks we will have more announcements to make. Once completed, these will be aligned with some of our other agencies in the group.”

Last year Publicis acquired four companies – Indigo Consulting, Resultrix, iStrat and MarketGate.

Sastri said, “When we acquired Resultrix in August 2012, the company got aligned to Zenith Optimedia. Similarly, Convonix has now been aligned to Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG). This acquisition makes it a fairly formidable digital operation for SMG now.”

Post acquisition, Convonix will operate as SMG Convonix, with two market-facing brands: SMG Digital and Convonix.

Convonix offers a range of skills in the digital media space including search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, social media marketing, online reputation management, web analytics and conversion rate improvement.

It also recently developed a proprietary in-house brand monitoring and social listening platform called IrisTrack, which enables clients to gather market insight on their products and competitors and also engage customers online to improve their customer service.

Publicis has put together its strategy to build digital leadership about 18 months ago and was looking for both scale and full range of capabilities.

“What really attracted us was Convonix’s scale of 200-odd people breadth of skills/capabilities and quality of people,” said Sastri without disclosing financial details.

Though digital forms only Rs2,000 crore of the Rs30,000 crore Indian media market, the segment is one of the fastest growing at 30-35% annually.

“We have ourselves witnessed 98% growth in the digital space last year, which clearly indicates that it is a high growth market. Clients are increasingly focusing on and diverting a lot of spends in the digital space. We believe this is one area where we will achieve very quick leadership -- that’s an objective we have set for ourselves,” said Sastri.

Publicis has about 800 people in digital operations, largest in the country.

On mobile space, the company feels that mobile is still 18-24 months away from becoming a big part of the marketing spend of its clients.

“All agencies are experimenting and innovating with mobile, but the market is very small right now at Rs150 crore. As a result, it’s way below in terms of priority for clients. The mobile space is certainly going to be important in the future, but currently no one really has a big play here,” said Sastri.

Follow Ashish K Tiwari on twitter @ashishktiwari

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