Building the Indian Agency of the Future ft. Schbang’s Harshil Karia

At AgencyCon, Harshil Karia, Founder, Schbang delved into the Indian advertising industry's journey towards building the Agency of the Future, emphasizing the role of becoming data-driven, preserving creativity, driving outcomes for clients and embracing AI.

Shamita Islur
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Schbang's Harshil Karia

Harshil Karia, Founder, Schbang took the live stage at Social Samosa AgencyCon Festival & Indian Agency Awards pondering over how the advertising industry in India as a whole is collectively working on building the Indian Agency of the Future. In the discussion, he found himself asking a critical question: Which agency comes to your mind when you think of the largest Indian-managed agency? 

Karia went on to state, "The largest agencies in/from India are not more than 2000-3000 people when compared globally. We have a huge headway to grow and that's the challenge we need to crack."

There’s a potential to grow considering India is considered to be the largest talent market in the world, as per Karia. In a bid to take the Indian advertising industry global, Karia’s conversation steered toward what aspects deserve our attention as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of business. 

He shared Schbang's very own journey of growth following COVID-19 stating that despite facing a 50% decline in profit margins during 2022-2023, the agency directed its efforts towards revitalizing the bottom line. Through endeavours, the agency witnessed a 400% growth over the past year.

Karia mentioned the key focus on the levers of scale why the agency business is relevant and why we get hired - effectiveness, outcome and process.

So what can the Indian agencies do to crack the global mix?

"Become data-driven. Focus on the preservation of creativity. Drive outcomes for clients. Embrace AI."

Karia emphasised that recognizing the transformative potential of data analytics, into insights can make for informed strategic directions and optimize operational efficiency.

Furthermore, he believed that there needs to be a delicate balance between nurturing creativity and instituting organizational frameworks for scalability. Moreover, delivering tangible outcomes for clients and paying attention to client satisfaction is key to meeting expectations. 

Karia mentioned the code to crack a client in the business. 

"There are three things that make or break clients in the agency business - client satisfaction, meeting targets and managing the top line and bottom line and making sure our people are happy."

Clients also need an ownerable and consistent brand platform, Media distribution and marketing effectiveness and an added layer of technology. 

Karia commented that any company in the future is going to grow on the back of young talent that comes into the workplace, further pointing out that the ones that show potential need to be trained well.

Embracing the advent of artificial intelligence is equally important, Karia pointed out. Leveraging AI algorithms and predictive analytics can enhance productivity, streamline workflows, and unlock new avenues for growth.

"The agency that will win is the agency that will pack integration," said Karia.

While the internal structure of an agency matters when it comes to creating the agency of the future, going global requires agencies to serve India-in and India-out as per Karia. 

Furthermore, expansion into international markets requires agencies to capitalise on opportunities for strategic acquisitions and market penetration.

“As the agency of the future for India, we need to be able to create a new way of serving customers in Bhopal, Raipur, Ahmedabad and more because the needs of those customers are very different.”

Agencies need to look at systemised processes but customise them for India One, India Two, India Three and so on because that's where a lot of the growth is gonna come from.

By embracing a culture of innovation, harnessing the power of data, and prioritising client success, Karia mentioned will shape the agency of the future and create an impact on the global stage. 

He concluded, "The Indian Agency of the Future is the future. India-in and India-out is the opportunity. That's what we need to build the Agency of the Future."


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