GroupM Nexus has made a slew of leadership appointments in Asia Pacific to lead the team's transformation. Arshan Saha, formerly CEO of Xaxis and specialty businesses APAC is now CEO of GroupM Nexus Asia Pacific while Jon Thurlow now takes on the remit of COO of GroupM Nexus Asia Pacific, in addition to his corporate remit as COO of GroupM Asia Pacific. Most recently, GroupM also appointed Partha Kabi as MD of GroupM Nexus SG .
GroupM Nexus was formed in April this year and is collectively responsible for the activation of more than two million campaigns managed by GroupM each year. GroupM Nexus unites GroupM’s addressable content and TV, AI technology (Copilot), and omnichannel solutions from Finecast, Xaxis, and GroupM Services into a single unit.
As CEO of GroupM Nexus Asia Pacific, Saha (pictured left) will report to Ashutosh Srivastava (GroupM APAC CEO), Colin Barlow (GroupM Nexus global COO) and Patrick Xu (GroupM Greater China CEO).
A founding member of Xaxis Asia Pacific, Saha rose through the ranks to become Asia Pacific CEO of Xaxis and GroupM’s data-driven specialty businesses including INCA, Finecast, Sightline and Acceleration. For over a decade, he led the expansion of Xaxis into 16 markets and according to the agency, multiplied its revenue by 20-fold.
In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE , Saha added that with GroupM Nexus at the centre of all executions, clients in APAC will be able to access all the technology, services and solutions offered by the entity, with enhanced brand and campaign performance due to a new AI-powered approach to outcome planning, and more frequent in-platform and cross-platform optimisation.
"GroupM Nexus offers the ability to incorporate creative production and optimisation at scale, provide brands with connected insights to learn about real growth drivers, and boasts an open architecture to better integrate with clients’ own tech stack and data assets. In addition, GroupM Nexus offers flexible commercial models to dovetail with client needs including outcomes-based approaches. In the markets where we have united structures in place, we have seen enhanced performance, increased partnership and greater innovation that have hugely benefited clients," he shared.
Within GroupM Nexus, client engagement teams will be working closely with agencies to support them in new business pitches.
"Our agencies are the front door to our clients, and will continue to have the critical role and responsibility of understanding and solving for clients’ goals, growth plans, needs and challenges," said Saha.
The creation of GroupM Nexus will therefore better service our agencies in their efforts to deliver stronger outcomes for clients and enhanced experiences for consumers.
When asked what led to the creation of the GroupM Nexus structure, Saha said that across the world, marketing campaigns are increasingly becoming outcomes-driven as audience-first and cross-channel planning become the de facto standard – and APAC is no different.
"With Asia Pacific being an important market fuelling the growth of the overall business, underscored by COMvergence’s recent report that ranked GroupM number one in APAC with over $21 billion in billings in 2021; this represents a growth of more than 20% since 2020. With over 2,500 practitioners based in APAC – almost a third of the global GroupM Nexus taskforce – this is a highly strategic and important region where we will continue to make deep investments in people, processes and technology," he added.
"This is the future of marketing, and we are poised to offer our clients and agencies the most powerful performance engine that will accelerate their growth. I’m honoured to be working alongside some of the world’s best specialists at GroupM Nexus to collectively cultivate a better media ecosystem," he added.
Meanwhile, as COO of GroupM Nexus Asia Pacific, Thurlow (pictured right) will be driving the transformation of Nexus, working alongside and reporting to Saha, Srivastava and Xu. Thurlow has been responsible for consolidating GroupM's search, social, commerce, programmatic, and addressable practices in Asia Pacific. For almost three years, he oversaw the complex integration of inter-network systems and structures across 16 markets into a unified campaign delivery platform.
Thurlow said that building on the success of the past years, the expanded service and solutions offering that GroupM Nexus will create represents a wonderful opportunity to deliver genuine market-leading innovation and produce a positive business impact for clients.
"For our people, it unlocks new career pathways in data, technology and practices, giving them immense scope for new learning and development experiences," he said.
With all of these changes, Deepika Nikhilender, formerly SVP of Xaxis Asia Pacific, has also stepped into the role of CEO of Xaxis Asia Pacific. Nikhilender has more than two decades of marketing and data science experience. According to the agency, she steered Xaxis' AI and machine learning ambitions in the region while leading the design of marketing solutions, supply strategy, trading and operations excellence, as well as adtech and platforms strategy. She reports jointly to Saha and John Wittesaele, global CEO of Xaxis.
She said: "I’m thrilled to embark on this exciting challenge to lead Xaxis APAC into new frontiers where we can break new ground for our clients and agencies with our AI differentiated initiatives and solutions. Together with the team, I look forward to cultivating a culture where our talents will continue to thrive as well as strengthening Xaxis’ capabilities to achieve our clients’ desired outcomes."
Brett Poole, formerly MD of Finecast Australia, has also been promoted to CEO of Finecast Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. Poole reports to Saha and Nicola Lewis, global CEO of Finecast in his new role. Finecast is an addressable TV solution offered by GroupM that enables advertisers to precision-target viewers across on-demand, linear and live streaming TV environments.
With Finecast technology, advertisers can deliver targeted ads to audiences watching TV content across multiple broadcasters, connected devices, set top boxes, over-the-top providers and game consoles – all through a single point of access. Finecast optimises delivery across the entire addressable TV marketplace and offers clients access to hundreds of different targeting segments.
In Asia Pacific, Finecast is leading the charge in addressable television transformation and has launched its proprietary audience planning technology across eight markets
With over two decades of experience in product development, tech commercialisation, publishing and advertising platforms, Poole helped to launch and built businesses across native advertising (plista), data tech (mPLATFORM), programmatic trading (Xaxis), and most recently, spearheaded TV transformation in Australia where his team grew the Finecast brand in the addressable TV and TV innovation space.
Poole added that he is thrilled to be given the opportunity to continue growing Finecast across APAC as part of GroupM Nexus.
"TV is experiencing tremendous metamorphosis throughout the world and there is huge potential to further our TV transformation efforts in APAC which is well-known for its diversity, talent and innovative spirit – all the things that are close to my heart. I look forward to working closely with Nexus APAC leaders to build on the outstanding work of our Finecast APAC team," he added.
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