Ad Land’s Young Guns: Karun Kambiri, Sr Media Planning Manager, Essence

Karun Kambiri is Senior Media Planning Manager, India at Essence, a global data and measurement-driven media agency that is part of GroupM. Kambiri, who joined Essence in 2019, manages digital media planning across both brand and performance marketing campaigns for the agency’s clients in India. His skill sets in biddable and non-biddable media channels, content marketing, and influencer marketing, combined with his knowledge of digital marketing tools, help him to create data-driven, full-funnel media and marketing strategies for brands.

Prior to Essence, Kambiri had worked at Performics. He served in end-to-end account management roles, covering client servicing, strategy development, planning and execution for brands in the technology, telecommunications, hospitality and financial services sectors.

In conversion with Adgully, Karun Kambiri, Senior Media Planning Manager, India, Essence, speaks about the skill sets needed in this industry, advertising in the cookieless world, the virtual reality of the metaverse, and more.

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?

I started my career as a digital media planner, and over the course of 6 years I have evolved into an integrated media planning resource. My knowledge base covers the breadth of media channels and the depth of key media objectives across branding and performance. With end-to-end skills, including client servicing, strategy development, planning and execution, I have helped brands with their media needs in sectors such as technology, telecommunications and financial services. 

Whether it is leading my team or automating reports in times of a resource crunch, I strive to go beyond the basics. My travels across multiple states and interactions with people of different ethnicities also help me to connect and be empathetic towards colleagues, irrespective of their cultural backgrounds. 

How did you join your current organisation?

After specialising in media and advertising in my post-graduate studies, I started my professional career with a media agency. There, I got the chance to work across various brands and learn the nuances of different media channels.

Having covered the broad pillars of digital media in my first organisation, I was looking to further expand my knowledge base and that was when I came across Essence – its global data and measurement-driven media solutions provided the right opportunity I needed to upskill myself. Additionally, Google has always inspired me as a service company and with Essence, I had the opportunity to contribute to Google’s media initiatives.

Icons in this field you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?

I have learnt and continue to learn from many people around me.

There were leaders who showed me that the best way to inspire is not by leading from a pedestal, but by being approachable and accessible, with the most recent example being Sonali Malaviya. Her success in the industry is something to behold, but it was equally inspirational to see how she genuinely connects with her team, especially when we had to work from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She engaged with all of us in a weekly ‘catch-up with a difference’, and true to its name, it made a positive impact and kept our spirits high.

In addition, some great managers taught me that a manager’s role is to not just manage people but to be a mentor to each member of the team, while my colleagues teach me something new about this industry every day.

Lastly, I am vastly influenced by the person that I could be tomorrow and I strive to work towards that today.

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

  1. I start my day with physical training using a resistance band, which keeps me motivated and energised throughout the day.
  2. During the day, I strive towards delivering a 100 per cent in my job, because by the end of each day, knowing that I have done justice to my work is essential to me.
  3. You are what you eat, so I ensure that I eat healthily every day to achieve not only a healthy body but a healthy mind too.
  4. Apart from proteins, carbohydrates and fats, creativity is the fourth macronutrient that I need to fuel my day. Be it an abstract picture or a combination of words, I use any medium possible to embody my thoughts outside of my mind.
  5. Finally, I end my day with dinner, in bed and watching TV with the most important people in my life - my family.

Do you think a career in this field is a viable one in the long term?

Yes, I do feel a long-term career in this field is feasible, but it demands that you are constantly augmenting your point of view towards what media is. From the medieval days when town criers were appointed to announce official news before the advent of mass media, to the present day when digital technology is driving performance media, this industry keeps evolving. To stay in it for the long term, one needs to continuously ride the waves of change. Advertising in the cookieless world and the virtual reality of the metaverse are just a few examples of the current trends in the media landscape. 

What does it take to succeed in a career?

  • In-depth knowledge of key tools and platforms relevant to the industry.
  • Attention to detail, sometimes not far from obsession.
  • An understanding of the consumer who will use the product or service.

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?

Shed any personal biases, stereotypes or preconceived notions that you have. Be open to understanding the diversity of thoughts, perspectives, feelings and priorities of different people, and ensure your media solutions do not exclude anyone.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

With my current knowledge and experience in media planning across channels, my next goal in five years’ time is to work on the brand side and get a meta understanding of how brands arrive at the need for media and advertising for a product or service.

Is there any organisation that you would like to work with in the future?

Google. Someone once asked me to describe what Google is to me, and I said it is like water. We all need water, but we do not appreciate it enough until it becomes scarce. Google, and especially Google Search, satiates our everyday lives with information, and I respect and look up to that. I have learnt and contributed to Google’s media solutions from the agency side, and someday, I would like to contribute from the brand side as well.


News in the domain of Advertising, Marketing, Media and Business of Entertainment

More in Media