Ad land’s Young Guns: Venkata Gavaskar Dontha, iProspect India

With an extensive experience of around 10 years in the industry, Venkata Gavaskar Dontha is currently AVP - SEO at iProspect India. He has been with iProspect India for over six years now and successfully managed complex and large organic search campaigns with the help of his 35+ member team, winning key industry awards for most. Some of these include those for Myntra, Apollo Hospitals, Thomas Cook, Cleartrip, ICICI Lombard, Sharekhan, Maxlife Insurance, Indigo, Shopclues and JetAirways. His understanding of various digital channels allows him to co-optimise various digital campaigns for a brand, leveraging its benefits for better SEO performance. 

Prior to iProspect India, Dontha had worked with Progressive Media Group, one of the largest publishing groups in the UK with brands like Blueprint Magazine, New Statesman, etc. and Marvist Consulting. 

What does it takes to climb up the ladder in in this industry? Here’s Venkata Gavaskar Dontha in his own words... 

How did you get into the role you are serving?
Rewind to over 10 years back in time – I had just completed my MBA. A marketing fresher, I happened to join a SEO company through reference. I felt it was relevant to what I had studied in college and digital was just getting started. That’s where my love for the digital industry was first seeded and I haven’t looked back ever since. I eventually got on board iProspect India. Today, after 10 glorious years in the industry, and six of them at iProspect, I know I’m in the right place – every new day at work is a reminder of the same and I’m loving it! 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
While I’m personally excited about all things digital and the future that it’s going to bring along, my forte lies in SEO and Content Marketing. I was fortunate to identify these strengths early in the day. Through the years, I’ve made a dedicated effort to hone my skills on this front and believe it’s my happy place. 

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
I am extremely proud of all the work my team has done over the years at iProspect India. And at the risk of sounding clichéd, choosing any one from them all is a really difficult task. However, if I had to pick any one, I think it would have to be the campaign undertaken for Myntra. The campaign’s objective was to regain business performance to the level that they were at before they went to an app-only format. This was no piece of cake and what made it more challenging was that it has to be done in a six-month timeframe. This required us to go over and beyond the conventional approach of on page and off page. We, therefore, added an aggressive mix of content marketing activities, which helped us to achieve our targets and that too all in the given time period. 

While working on the creatives, how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
There are some key aspects that are integral to the making of any creative piece of work – the target audience tops this list, whether it’s an ad copy or writing a meta description for a page. Eventually it all boils down to how efficiently, for how long and how frequently you can engage with your target audience. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
Rand Fishkin (better known as Wizard of Moz) and marketing guru Philip Kotler are by far two great personalities who have influenced my professional work to a large extent. I have read their books multiple times and I’m an ardent disciple of their ideologies. Their philosophies continue to shape my thought process and actions till date. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?
1. Ensure the daily tracker is in place – being organised and having a to-do list, however basic it may seem, is 50 per cent of the work done well. 

2. I try to keep my meetings that take place out of office either first thing in the morning or then towards the end of the day – it’s a great way to save time. 

3. My team and people mean everything to me, their happiness is vital – I make it a point to spend around 10-15 minutes just on team building activities or sit and talk to them about anything fun. 

4. As a practice, I rely on online portals to read the news and be abreast with what’s happening in the world while commuting to work daily – helps me kill two birds with one stone! 

5. Call it me-time, making time for hobbies or taking time off, whatever you may – but it’s absolutely necessary for me to commit a part of the day to doing anything that relaxes my mind, be it watching a movie, or playing candy crush. 

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Absolutely! I’m a living example of the same. Jokes apart, the industry has seen several stalwarts who have made their mark and spent all their working years in advertising and marketing field itself. In fact, I have seen many of my friends in the IT industry changing jobs often or switching careers, but the cases of the same in advertising are far and few in between. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
I don’t think there can be a specific manual on this. Every advertising professional’s strengths unfold in their own way to make their own successful story. However, if I were to pen down one attribute that went a long way in moulding me as a professional in this industry, it would be continuous learning. The advertising space in particular is rapidly evolving, demanding absolute agility and quick adaption to changes, especially in algorithms and user behaviour. 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
My two cents of advice here would be that advertising is a great long term career option, provided you are a quick learner. Keep innovating your professional persona – read more stories online on the industry trends, watch lots of ads to see the work being done by your peers, etc. I’m sure this will help come up with your own innovative ideas for your campaigns and take your work to the next level. Always remember to be a story teller! 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Honestly, I can’t see myself anywhere but in the advertising and marketing industry. I’m sure five years down the line, things will be different – methods of doing things will change and I might adapt to newer formats, but the essence of advertising will still be the same. Technology is getting increasingly integrated in most of the work we do and I’m waiting to see how things unfold there – I will probably explore additional responsibilities and opportunities around that. 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
No way! It’s been an amazing journey with iProspect India for the last six years and I’m proud to be a part of the leadership team here. There’s so much more to achieve in this place and I truly believe that this is just the beginning – we have a lot more coming up!

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