MUMBAI: Digital marketing has come of age in India but the advertising industry has been slow to wake up to this reality, according to leading industry figure.

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO of South Asia at Dentsu Aegis Network addressed this topic at recent IAMAI Marketing Conclave in Mumbai.

"Dentsu believes that by 2020, there is going to be no business that is not digital," he declared. "We are living through a very interesting phase in history which probably comes once in twenty or thirty years, like it happened when television was launched."

"But with one difference," he added. "This time it will not just impact communications, but it will impact the way business is done." (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: The future of "traditional" agencies in India's digital age.)

"When I joined advertising thirty years ago, we would take a brief from the client on creative and then on media and then on events. That era is over," Bhasin said.

Indian agencies must adapt to the changing expectations of clients in the digital era. "We no longer have to go to clients and (convince them) that digital works. We are past that stage, there is no longer the need to sell it," he noted.

"Today, clients want to deal not with a specialist, but with a super specialist. For example, they want a social media specialist to talk to them about social media."

Accordingly, the agency network has embarked on an aggressive acquisition spree in India, acquiring a smaller ad agency, a PR firm, a design studio and digital media agencies, amongst others.

"At the moment there is irrational exuberance – like when all boats rise as the tide rises, and everyone starts seeing one billion dollar evaluations. I believe we are towards the end of that phase (in India), and there will be some winners and some losers," Bhasin said.

Data sourced from WARC