Maxus India, the media planning arm of the WPP advertising network's GroupM unit, is looking to expand its India business as marketers in China and several other countries tighten their purse strings in view of the global economic slowdown.

“India is a benchmark country and we have charted a growth plan based on consumer, content, data and collaboration,” Maxus global CEO Lindsay Pattison said. "Our focus in 2016 is to develop a diverse skill set which will make us future ready to take on any new challenge."

Pattison agreed that the slowdown in the Chinese market is an area of concern for the agency. “With money being scarce, a lot of focus is being given to data and innovation,” she added.

The agency counts Vodafone, Tata Sky, Fiat, HTC and Dulux as clients in India. Maxus generates billings of $750 million in India, it said, citing the global media billing firm RECMA. Globally, Maxus generates billing worth $11.3 billion.

The media agency declined to share the billing clocked by Maxus China, its largest agency in Asia.

Cashing in on the digital boom in India, the media agency in the past few years has rolled out many initiatives. The firm recently tied up with Internet of Things Bangalore to work closely on research with entrepreneurs, investors, students and researchers.

It also runs Maxus Metalworks, its innovation consulting unit. The unit works in areas of wearables, connected devices and other emerging technologies with startups across the country.

However, Ajit Varghese, chief executive, Maxus APAC, made it clear the agency has no plans to acquire an India-based startup. “WPP Group invests in startups through WPP Ventures, its investment division,” he said. “At GroupM we have had a successful run at creating businesses in-house, and will continue to focus on that.”

The agency this week launched Kaleidoscope, a mood-based audience segmentation tool. It also runs MESH, a marketing command centre and dialogue engine in partnership with Singapore-based social media marketing firm Vocanic. The command centre helps Maxus track brand health by reading environment signals in real time and provides insights on earned, owned and paid media.

According to Richard Stokes, worldwide chief development officer at Maxus, the media agency will continue to invest in research and development especially using data to bring about a change in media planning. Stokes didn't disclose the amount the company has invested in research and development over the past one-two years.

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