Fast Chat: Deutsch’s Anush Prabhu on Media’s Evolution

Why the industry needs to better harness data

Anush Prabhu, who is taking over Deutsch’s media department, has never made a TV or print buy in his career. But in fact, his data, analytics and communications planning background underscores the changing evolution of that one-time media world. In his new role at Deutsch, he oversees communications planning, media planning and buying, and data strategy—bringing a new perspective to media at an agency that still believes it’s important to have a bundled presence within. 

“He’s not just a numbers guy. That’s important to understanding why he’s right for this job,” explains Val DiFebo, CEO at Deutsch N.Y.  “He’s really a creative mind who has a skill set that takes everything that media is trying to do now, which is to reach targets, engage them in a dialogue, measure the impact of those things and then either course-correct or do more of the same. He’s perfect for that.” 

Prabhu, in his newly created role of chief channel planning and investment officer, spoke to Adweek about what happens when a data geek gets to play a larger role in media.

Adweek: What does your appointment say about how Deutsch’s media vision is changing?

Anush Prabhu: There’s all this data that is coming up front for us and we as an industry in media aren’t using all of it—we’re still spending all this equity on where people are spending time. Given that there is so much more data available, and we can harness it, speaks to where the future of media needs to go. The fact that Deutsch took the first step in actualizing this vision speaks to more than Deutsch’s vision but also to how we as an industry need to be more future-forward as an engine to drive what we are doing. There’s a lot of conversation in the industry about data but I also think it’s important that when we start to talk about data we start talking about it in the context of outcomes and outputs rather than the data itself.

What kind of changes do you expect to make in Deutsch’s media operations?

There’s a strong foundation upon which to build. (Former chief media officer) Peter (Gardiner) left good leadership behind. We have strong pillars in Karen Benson who leads up our media planning, Jay Baum and Maureen Burzynski who head up our buying. Deutsch has always been very integrated and very business-centric and if there are any changes I need to bring it is to re-engineer our processes. It’s more from the perspective of how do we draw from this larger data pool of insights, this broader and richer data, and how do we be more nimble to act on it? How do we bring some of that nimbleness even when it comes to television? Deutsch is very integrated and we sit together but how do we operationalize some of that integration with other aspects of media? How do I bring creative and media buyers together? Because that’s where a lot of the partnership can happen in coming up with solutions that are real value drivers in situations.

Will you be you be adding more specific expertise in any area?

If you include some of the data strategy and [communications] planning people, we have 80 people. I don’t have plans as of now to change the size or some of the dynamics because we have some really good talent in-house. It’s more about how can we get them to work with one another and get them to be more comfortable working in a way with a lot more data. That’s more the initial focus but as needs arise and we get more clients in, the dynamics will obviously change.