DigitalF5 is surging ahead with big account wins and acquisitions. The Mumbai-based digital agency recently bagged the BMW Motorrad account and acquired digital marketing company AdClear. The team has grown over the last six years and is now 53 members strong with offices in Mumbai and New Delhi.
We spoke to the co-founder Barin Mukherjee to understand the DigitalF5 success story.
You recently acquired digital marketing start-up, AdClear. Are acquisitions a major part of your growth strategy?
We are competing with large networks in the market. With six years in the industry, we have understood that what we need are domain experts in all the major domains. Ajay Anand of AdClear is a domain expert in performance marketing. We are also working on having a content marketing domain expert join us soon. For mobile marketing, we have Think Walnut. Acquisitions are not our growth story per se but a path to become that one window for larger brands to come and partner with us. DigitalF5 will be at the core, because that’s where everything stems from, but we will have domain experts as part of the team and company and we want them to be able to give the right expertise to clients. So, it is almost a network that we have created - the F5 network.
What are the verticals in which you still need experts to join the F5 network?
For now, we do not have anything in the works. But we do see a big opportunity in digital-led activations. I see the synergy that we get to the table being nicely integrated into offline events. For example, aspects like building on the relationship and engaging with the customer after they have visited your kiosk at an on-ground activation. We also see the scope in building the brand offline, be it with gadgets, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, etc. That’s definitely a space that we want to venture into, but we have no immediate plans
The industry never misses a chance to show clients how fascinating tools like AR and VR are. And every year, experts say - this is the year of AR/VR. How far has India come in this AR and VR journey?
When it comes to implementing AR/VR there are two things to consider - relevance of the activity and quantum of money. For example, AR makes sense from a tourism point of view. Everyone mostly talks about AR/VR from the direct to consumer point of view but that it is not always the case. Deploying these technologies is also fairly expensive now because they are still very new. It has not matured enough to become a market which is standardised in terms of rates, so the investments are on the higher side. These are two challenges why brands are not adopting these technologies.
With AdClear, you have ventured into New Delhi. How does Delhi fare in digital marketing as compared to Mumbai?
Delhi as a market is larger than Mumbai. I do not have an exact number but it is at least 1.5 times larger than Mumbai. Across product categories, Delhi has a huge potential for digital marketing. It is therefore a market we want to focus on and build as much as Mumbai. While Delhi’s talent is no less than Mumbai, Mumbai has a higher churn of campaigns. So, the people in Mumbai have more exposure and are a little more qualified when it comes to skills and using tools.
You recently bagged the complete creative duties for BMW Motorrad…
Every agency, from the day of its inception, dreams to have clients like BMW. It has taken us six years as we have gone slow and steady. It has been an exciting journey. We also bagged the LivPure account. We have got the nature of partnership that we expect from LivPure. We are actually treated as consultants and partners of the business. The client empowers us to make decisions as an expert.
Your partnerships with clients are not traditional. With Victorinox, you have a revenue-sharing model; with Livpure you feel empowered as partners. What prompted this?
In the last six years, we have grown from a two-member team to a 53-member team because we have grown with brands. Typically, brands move accounts every year. We at DigitalF5 have clients living the journey with us for over three years. That has primarily happened because we have seen a lot of changes together and adapted ourselves. Our wish has always been to get brands that are genuinely looking at digital as a medium that they want to invest time and money into.
Lastly, what is your target for 2018? Can we expect a round of funding soon?
We will not be going in for any funding at this stage. Our growth is powered by our team. We have a complete second in line in place that can fully execute all the work. We double ourselves every year. This year, we want to triple ourselves to reach the $3 million mark.