Lodestar UM's CEO wants to bring the romance back into a resurgent ad world

Aditi Mishra, CEO, Lodestar UM, wants to go beyond mere statistics on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to add richness and depth to the advertising industry.

By  Priyanka NairDec 26, 2023 12:39 PM
Lodestar UM's CEO wants to bring the romance back into a resurgent ad world
"In the unfolding narrative of 2024, sustainability is positioned to take a prominent role. Consumer environmental consciousness propels a preference for brands committed to sustainability, carbon emission reduction, and ethical trade practices. Marketers are tasked with seamlessly weaving eco-friendly messaging into campaigns, showcasing a commitment to environmental responsibility," says Aditi Mishra, CEO, Lodestar UM.

“My mission is to reignite the romance of the agency and media world,” says Lodestar UM’s Chief Executive Officer, Aditi Mishra. In 2024, Mishra wants to go beyond mere statistics on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to add richness and depth to the advertising industry. “Retaining our current talents and drawing in new faces to the advertising realm is not just a goal; it's an imperative. In the vibrant nexus of brands and consumer lives, media acts as the crucial bridge, making the engagement of top-tier talent crucial,” she believes. Apart from focusing on talent, Mishra also wants to amplify their partnerships across the business spectrum as a strategic imperative. “Beyond the conventional planning and buying functions, we aim to add substantial value to our clients,” she adds.

Mishra shares the agency’s 2023 report card, her views on trends that will take the spotlight next year, and more.

From a business perspective, what are the key achievements of the agency this year?

This year has been more than a success; it's been a testament to our commitment to innovation, growth, and impactful partnerships.

In the realm of business triumphs, Lodestar UM solidified its status as the transformational partner for ambitious brands, fostering agile, client-centric teams fuelled by data, technology, and collaborative synergy. We clinched the #2 spot in market billings volume and boasted a remarkable 23 percent YoY growth (source: RECMA). Beyond nurturing current connections, we welcomed dynamic additions to our client roster, spanning diverse sectors, such as Protean, Bhima, Arzoo and Hitachi.

This year marked a strategic consolidation, amplifying existing client relationships and propelling their growth to new heights. Our arsenal of tools, including the innovative Demand Forecaster, CEFF (Celebrity Endorsement Fit Framework), and the AI-powered Growth Accelerator became catalysts for crafting highly effective media strategies. The Futurecaster tool emerged as a beacon, identifying burgeoning technologies intersecting with audience behaviours. Teaming up with Dynata and GWI, we conducted a survey across 14 APAC markets, deciphering current, emergent, and potential usage of evolving media and technologies.

Stepping beyond conventional boundaries, we expanded our influence into allied strategic business consultancies, broadening our engagement spectrum. Embracing automation and harnessing the emerging prowess of new technology, we not only elevated our productivity but also fortified our product offerings across teams.

Adding a touch of societal impact to our repertoire, we proudly supported #YouDontSeeMe, a UN Women campaign in collaboration with the Unstereotype Alliance. Tackling the pervasive issue of gender stereotypes in Indian advertising, our media buying support and free media partnerships reached over 10 million individuals, championing gender-positive messages.

What key marketing trends stood out for you in 2023?

In the midst of global economic uncertainties, 2023 revealed India's economic resilience, propelled by robust domestic demand. Fuelled by a growing consumer base, increasing income levels, and the aspirations of the youth, the country experienced a surge in both brand and advertising growth. Notable moments included an incremental ad spend exceeding Rs 10,000 crore (source: MAGNA), driven by digital surges, pre-election government allocations, major sports events, a pandemic-free festive season and blockbuster Bollywood releases.

A significant shift unfolded in India's media landscape as CTV claimed the spotlight. With an anticipated 40-45 million Daily Active Users by 2025, the CTV ecosystem expanded from 25 million the previous year. Notably, Samsung TV users in India dedicated a substantial 88 percent of their TV time to streaming environments during H1 2023. This surge opened up advertising opportunities for smaller brands, leveraging the data collation and targeting capabilities of digital platforms.

Defying expectations, OOH (out of home) and radio experienced a notable revival, propelled by the influence of OTT platforms, FMCG giants, and the automotive sector. The cinema space, against all odds, emerged as a resilient advertising hub, captivating audiences and delivering impactful brand engagements. The resurgence of these traditional mediums underscored their enduring relevance in the ever-evolving media landscape.

What are the key tasks on your to-do list for 2024?

As we move into 2024, a paramount task is the heightened adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning, not just for enhancing client solutions but also for an internal evolution in our workflow. The evolving tech landscape presents an opportune moment to leverage the power of AI, transforming the way we engage with clients. This isn't just about streamlining our daily work; it's about fundamentally reshaping our operations, infusing agility into our DNA.

Another pivotal focus centres around talent. My mission on the talent front is to reignite the romance of the agency and media world. Retaining our current talents and drawing in new faces to the advertising realm is not just a goal; it's an imperative. In the vibrant nexus of brands and consumer lives, media acts as the crucial bridge, making the engagement of top-tier talent crucial. We need to go beyond mere statistics on the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) front as well. We have one of the best gender equilibriums already, we also want to bring people from more backgrounds and abilities among our fold adding richness to our overall community.

Amplifying our partnerships across the business spectrum stands as a strategic imperative. Beyond the conventional planning and buying functions, we aim to add substantial value to our clients. Initiatives like the GenZ podcast and Demand Forecaster serve as catalysts in shaping a holistic consumer journey. The mission is clear – make the media the growth driver for our clients. We aspire to transcend traditional roles and become consultants, wielding our specialized knowledge for the benefit of our clients.

In navigating the impending cookieless future, harnessing data would be a critical lever for media growth. The plan involves mining and slicing the available data with our proprietary lens, crafting a distinctive offering that goes beyond conventional approaches. From news insights to proprietary solutions, we aim to harness data strategically, propelling us into a future where data becomes the backbone of our media strategies.

What trends do you foresee shaping the advertising industry in 2024?

Venturing into the future, 2024 ushers in the dominance of Generative AI, heralding a revolution in advertising landscapes. This year will witness marketers embracing AI for personalised campaigns, seamless AR/VR integration, and compelling CGI executions. The integration of AI, ML, and deep learning is set to transform consumer engagement, empowering businesses to decipher behaviour, preferences, and purchase patterns. This paradigm shift fosters an enhanced understanding and segmentation of target markets.

As we step into the upcoming year, the battleground for revenue intensifies in 2024, with tech platforms engaging in a fierce race for supremacy in monetising their services. Despite boasting of the world's highest user bases, platforms actively seek new avenues for revenue generation. Prioritising data protection, user understanding, and augmented advertising offerings, these platforms delve into innovative user monetisation. Subscriptions and digital commerce emerge as focal points, illustrating a strategic evolution in revenue models.

In the unfolding narrative of 2024, sustainability is positioned to take a prominent role. Consumer environmental consciousness propels a preference for brands committed to sustainability, carbon emission reduction, and ethical trade practices. Marketers are tasked with seamlessly weaving eco-friendly messaging into campaigns, showcasing a commitment to environmental responsibility. In alignment with a more inclusive economy and sustainable environment, businesses position sustainability as a core aspect of their overarching business strategy, highlighting a holistic approach to storytelling.

First Published on Dec 26, 2023 10:28 AM

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