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WPP's global client lead Gowthaman Ragothaman exits for programmatic blockchain startup


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

July 30, 2019 | 4 min read

Gowthaman Ragothaman, the global client lead at WPP who was spearheading programmatic blockchain at GroupM, has stepped down from his role.


Aqilliz was created in collaboration with Zilliqa, and will now be working with Zilliqa to develop its solutions.

Ragothaman, affectionately known in the industry as G’man, spent a bulk of his career at WPP agencies including Ogilvy and Mindshare. He spent the last five years at GroupM, where he was in charge of the PepsiCo account.

He has announced he will move into blockchain, launching a blockchain solutions provider called Aqilliz to create a fairer and more transparent ecosystem that can solve challenges in digital marketing.

Explaining his decision to leave WPP to The Drum, Ragothaman said: “The impact of technology in consumer understanding is rising in its importance and becoming profound. I personally believe that unifying the technology across all the three stakeholders - consumers, brands and platforms - is very critical for advertising and marketing.”

“To that extent, I am not really leaving advertising, but just stepping outside the agency world to play a meaningful role in the field of technology that benefits all the three stakeholders in a balanced manner.”

He added that Aqilliz is his passion born out of the conviction to unify across these parts. That is why he believes distributed ledger technology is one of the routes to get there.

When Ragothaman was leading the PepsiCo account, the Mindshare-driven blockchain programmatic alliance ‘Project Proton’ launched a test campaign with the FMCG giant that drove an increased 28% efficiency by using smart contracts.

The smart contracts were deployed via the Zilliqa’s blockchain platform, which was designed with security, scalability, and performance in mind to reconcile impressions from different data sources alongside payments.

This was done using a Native Alliance Token (NAT) in almost real-time, which drove the efficiency improvements as compared to the campaign being run without smart contracts, as well as creating total transparency for the brand.

Aqilliz was created in collaboration with Zilliqa, and will now be working with Zilliqa to develop its solutions for enterprise clients to address three key areas of reconciliation on the digital supply chain; verification and authentication of transaction parties; and risk mitigation in costs and consumer outcomes.

“It is my earnest endeavour to continue to work with Mindshare in scaling up Project Proton from Aqilliz, leveraging the power of Zilliqa's high throughput blockchain platform,” explained Ragothaman.

“There is no reason to believe otherwise. Project Proton will continue and there is every intention to scale it by bringing in more partners into the ecosystem.”

Ragothaman believed his decades-long experience in the ad industry will put him in good stead in the blockchain world, saying that there is no other industry that is as capricious as the advertising because marketers have to constantly observe, act and react to social developments; and those who are proactive, succeed.

“This is one trait, I will definitely keep it with me, wherever I go. To keenly observe, act, react and be proactive,” he said. “These traits will immensely help in playing a meaningful role in the field of technology that benefits consumers, brands and platforms, all in equal measure.”

The results of the Mindshare-PepsiCo blockchain test has seen other brands keen to the same with their agencies globally.

Nestlé, McDonald's and Virgin Media will join a blockchain pilot spearheaded by the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (Jicwebs) with their respective media agencies Zenith, OMD UK and Manning Gottlieb OMD.

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