Chairman & CEO South Asia Dentsu Aegis Network - ‎Aegis Group, Ashish Bhasin, talks about fake news trend, Facebook data leak, rise of digital medium and more…

I am a digital addict when it comes to immediacy of news: Ashish Bhasin

Coin the name Ashish Bhasin and one conjures up images of success, sophistication and sanctity. Ashish is much more than his awe inspiring designation, which is ‎Chairman & CEO South Asia Dentsu Aegis Network – ‎Aegis Group. He is at the top of the mountain, yet craves to leap higher, experimenting and evolving with each passing day.

IWMBuzz was at Goa Fest 2018 and we spotted Mr Bhasin, an organizing committee member (Chairman to be precise), running and smiling and greeting, putting in his best to make the endeavour super successful.

“I am glad to be associated with Goa Fest and it’s been an exhilarating experience. It’s all a team work,” shares Mr Bhasin as he sits for a candid chat with a cup of coffee in hand.

Mr Bhasin threw a volley of questions to arguably one of the most talked about and inspiring speakers this year at the fest, Swami Ramdev, who in his inimitable style went on to diss conventional advertising mantras.

So did he relate to any of the Babatronics? “Ramdev’s session was really inspiring. His inclusion brought a diverse voice on stage. At Goa Fest, we want global and different point of views. Out of all his views, one point which really stuck in my mind was his statement on people. The biggest problem we face today is getting quality talent on board and later to retain them. He spoke about ‘treating your people emotionally and as one of your own’, which is a great valid point. End of the day you are as good as your team.”

Fair point. Being an industry doyen, what is his take on the entire burning controversy of Facebook data breach. Any thoughts on it?

“(thinks) You have to understand that digital in India is different from digital abroad. The recent Jio phenomenon has drastically increased data consumption and it will only increase in coming time. The sudden increase in reach lures brands. There is a tailwind behind it. Thus, advertising is growing at 10 to 15 percent whereas digital is growing at 20-25 percent. Now, there are some problems, most certainly. One being privacy, transparency etc. Another major lacuna in India is that there is no common metric yet which determines some validation, which is a need of the hour and should be put in place given the measurable medium that digital is. So, these two problems have to be dealt with quickly to ensure a sustained growth of the medium.”

Furthermore, Mr Bhasin shares that the media market in India is vibrant where all mediums, be it print, outdoor, TV or digital are seeing a rapid growth. However, he agrees that digital rate of expansion is much higher.

Fake news is a problem which has stemmed from technology and the solution has to come from technology. It’s not easy but has to be dealt with as it has implications at sociological and societal level

“Brands are suddenly playing the catch up game for a millennial is exposed to computers and smartphones much earlier in today’s time. They are willing to experiment and innovate a lot. They need variety in terms of choices. This is a challenge as well as an opportunity. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that TV or any other medium will take a hit. We are still an under advertised country. Next five to ten years almost all media will do well.”

Indeed, enlightening insights. Now, as a citizen and a consumer, what’s his take on sudden negative impact of fake news trend in India and across?

“Fake news is wrong, of course, no two way about it. It is a matter of concern and the society is grappling to find  ways to curb it. Given the behemoth nature of technology today and not so stringent laws, it is certainly a difficult demon to deal with. Having said that, large tech companies -where news is majorly consumed, like Facebook, Google, Twitter- will have to evolve and curb it. They need to find a solution to it, most certainly. The problem has stemmed from technology and the solution has to come from technology. It’s not easy but has to be dealt with as it has implications at sociological and societal level. One can literally start a riot with some false bit of news. It is scary and a serious issue.”

Well, fake news is a Goblin which should be contained and we agree with Mr Bhasin that tech giants, sitting on loads of cash, will have to address that on priority.

On a final ending note, Mr Bhasin says that for him content consumption (across platforms) is seamless. He prefers to watch news on TV and mobile both, however, sports is something he enjoys on the comparatively bigger screen.

However, “I am a digital addict when it comes to immediacy of news,” he ends.

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