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Ad land’s Young Guns: Deepankar Grover, Essence

Deepankar Grover is Associate Planning Director, India at Essence, a global data and measurement-driven media agency and part of GroupM. Grover was a core part of the team that laid Essence’s foundation in India in 2016 and since then has been instrumental in strengthening the media planning practice for the agency’s Google business. From being a junior manager, he has grown to now become one of the team’s key trainers mentoring new joinees and upskilling them. 

Despite having just over six years of experience in the industry, Grover is already highly skilled in the fields of media planning and strategy. He is adept at translating client needs into media solutions, and has contributed in building processes to enrich client relationships. He has played a key role in designing advertising strategies for major Google product launches in India. With his love for technology and zeal to push boundaries, he has led award-winning campaigns for Essence. 

How did you get into the role you are serving?
From a very young age, advertisements intrigued me to explore the efforts that go behind making them inspirational. This became the impetus to pursue advertising in my higher education and follow it as a career path. I embarked on my journey with offline media and my inclination towards the ever-evolving digital ecosystem brought me into my current role at Essence. 

With the increasing digital footprint of the modern age consumer, technology has been an enabler in understanding what motivates them at a much deeper level than we did ever before and marrying it rightfully with the brand’s proposition. I was keen on deriving value with this power of technology and there could not have been a better opportunity than Google for me to do just that! 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
The one thing that encapsulates my personality is challenging the status quo. I continually strive to identify better possibilities and more efficient ways to execute things. My passion drives me to do the best and I approach every piece of work with an upbeat attitude, something that keeps up the energies of the people I work with. 

I have always believed in keeping a panoramic view of all functions within the organisation. Knowing how all gears rotate to power the engine certainly helps you to be at top speed! This has empowered me to seed in ideas and media solutions from a broader business perspective. 

In addition to these, I have a way with numbers! Turning data into qualitative insights and visualising it on point to precisely answer business questions has been my core strength. 

How did Essence come about?
Prior to my current role, I was the lead digital planner on Google’s business at Maxus. In 2016, Essence was launched in India with its first office in Delhi and the Google business was getting consolidated under one roof at Essence. I was then given the opportunity to be a frontrunner in setting up the team in India. Being a transformational, data and measurement-driven agency, Essence clearly appealed to my aspirations. 

Without any second thoughts, I took the leap and it’s been an exciting journey ever since. Essence gave me the playground to experiment, grow and hone my capabilities. No two days have been the same here. We have encountered challenging times and have always emerged with cutting-edge solutions. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
Though I have come across brilliant minds in the advertising industry and they have all influenced me and my work in several ways, I draw inspiration from the life of Steve Jobs. His philosophy of bringing together utility, design and technology to build the most aspirational brand of all time is truly inspiring. The passion, conviction and undying attitude put behind building Apple where it stands today, motivates me to deliver the best with utmost dedication. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?

  • Planning the day - My day never begins before I outline it in my task list. There’s a priority quadrant which I use to tag my tasks as ‘urgent or can wait’.
  • Being abreast with recent developments - I stay wired to industry publications/ news as well as all tech updates - be it media tech, platform advancements or new device launches. It all stays on my radar!
  • Socialising - Connecting with people in the office not just helps in building approachability and trust, but also keeps me up to pace with updates across teams.
  • Learning new things - My insatiable need to explore and learn new things defines my typical day, be it through discussions with colleagues, seniors or partners.
  • Taking breathers - It’s essential to take quick breaks in between our rigorous schedules. It helps me re-energise and enhances productivity.

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Yes, indeed! Technology and data are changing the way people consume media and how brands communicate with consumers. As we advance in building brands in the digital real estate, advertising will always lie at the core of the process. It will only evolve with time, becoming more experiential, more user-centric and more personalised. 

One, however, should always be cognizant of the flipsides of customisation and automation. In the quest to become extremely relevant and targeted, are we missing out on the other potentially convertible audiences? Also, as the industry steers towards automation, it will necessitate people to be on top of technological advancements more than ever before. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
In an industry that changes dimensions at such a fast pace, reinventing your own self becomes vital to success. A healthy blend of commitment, hard work and inquisitiveness can take you miles in this industry. 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
One can achieve new heights if the individual’s career and passion come together! The foremost question that people planning to join this industry should ask themselves is whether advertising excites them. There are plenty of opportunities for a spectrum of people in this industry right from business oriented, tech-driven, to those with a creative bent. But the larger consideration circles around whether they are passionate enough to traverse this fast-paced, continually evolving and occasionally stressful workspace. 

For the ones who have decided to enter this exciting world of advertising, my advice would be to bring about the ‘BEST’ in themselves: 

  • Believe - In your work, in yourself. Never pull back from putting forward your ideas and your opinions. No perspective is ever unworthy.
  • Engage - With new advancements every day, every conversation you have with another person in the industry will bring you a notch up in your learning curve.
  • Stay inquisitive - Keep a perennial desire to learn. Let experience be your guiding light and keep the zeal to grow burning, and evolve with mistakes.
  • Track progress - Proactively set targets. You’ll function in an extremely dynamic environment, so constantly refine your goals. Be determined to become better with each passing day.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I would like to see myself as a recognised expert of digital advertising who’s strongly grounded in data and technology. I envision myself acquiring advanced knowledge and skills, and becoming a source of more valuable and inspiring work. 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
It certainly has to be an equally innovative organisation that aligns with my intrinsic aspirations.

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