Byravee Iyer
Mar 26, 2013

Asia leads the way in digital marketing: Havas Media MD Dominique Delport

Dominique Delport, managing director of Havas Media Group, talks about his ambitions for Asia and the challenges he foresees in the market.

Delport: Asia will
Delport: Asia will "continue to excite"

Delport took over as Global MD of Havas Media Group in November 2012. His promotion was part of a major restructure at the media agency to consolidate its operations under Havas Media Group. As part of this, Delport is charting an integrated model, which will help the agency become more consistent across media platforms.

How does the media industry in Asia compare to the rest of the world?

The media industry in Asia is evolving every day, providing a lot of dynamism, positivity and opportunities on the back of a thriving economic environment. The region has already overtaken Europe to become the second largest advertising market. Two of the world’s largest markets after North America, namely Japan and China, are in Asia. Fifty-five per cent of the world’s internet population resides in the region, providing marketers with huge opportunities to leverage digital media. As opposed to other regions like North America and Western Europe, the media industry in this region is in different stages of evolution and is highly complex. For instance, in India you have a vast rural market which needs a completely different media approach from its urban population. A major point of difference in Asia is the way internet users in the region are leapfrogging PCs and going straight to smartphones to gain access to the web. There will be 794.4 million mobile internet users in the region by the end of 2012, with that number jumping to 1.29 billion by 2016, according to eMarketer estimates.

Which markets are you most excited about in Asia?

The Asian growth story will continue to excite the world and global advertising groups like us. Apart from India and China, I see Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines (what we call VIP markets) becoming increasingly attractive. We are already seeing a trend of Asian brands coming to a global stage, and the next few years will escalate this trend. Considering the jump in mobile penetration, we are anticipating a massive pick up on mobile marketing, both in terms of demand and investments. Overall, I see more innovation coming out of Asia; it is already happening. Asia will also contribute more talent at the global level. A key trend that I anticipate is for brands to communicate their sustainability initiatives, which we describe as meaningful communications.

What are your plans for the region?

We want to demonstrate the strength and cutting-edge proposal of the Havas Media Group in terms of digital expertise. We will provide two spectacular proofs of that. First, we have the best integrated team. Secondly, we are a multicultural group with Latin, French, Anglos and others. It is because of our multicultural experience that we are able to adapt in different countries.

Do you think there’s anything holding back growth in Asia?

As far as holding back is concerned, I would think that infrastructural issues and governmental regulations in some markets in Asia could be holding back the development of the media industry.

What are the challenges for the industry in this region?

The challenges in this region are not very different from those in other parts of the world. The pace of change in media is very fast and digital is accelerating this change. Every day we need to learn and unlearn—it is always a challenge to find the right talent that is agile and can embrace the changes in the industry. As a group, we are very focussed on hiring nimble and entrepreneurial talent that keeps pace with the times.

Another challenge that I am concerned about is the short tenure of client-agency relationships, which is less than two years on an average globally. I strongly believe that great brands cannot be built on a short-term partnership. Longevity of a relationship with a client is very critical for us and we invest a lot of time and resources in maintaining this. Havas’ average length of relationship is much higher than the industry average.

Finally, the biggest challenge that I see is the commoditisation of media, due to which media agencies are not seen as strategic partners for brands. I think we have become complacent and are neglecting some of the natural advantages that come with being in this realm. We are sitting on top of a lot of relevant consumer data that we can be leveraging. We have a responsibility of infusing creativity in media using the data and technology that we have at our disposal. At Havas Media Group we are taking this very seriously and have created specialised ideation labs to use and interpret the data that is available.

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