Digital agencies Quasar and GroupM have joined forces to build what they’re calling “India’s largest Integrated Digital Media Agency Network.” An agency network? With this change, Quasar BMS and Blazar (which buy advertising on publications for clients), will report to GroupM Interactions Head Tushar Vyas, even though they’ll operate independently, and there is no change in leadership. The agency network will include both of these businesses, as well as agencies like Mindshare, Motivator, Maxus, MEC, Quasar BMS and Blazar. A few days ago, Quasar announced that its Quasar TWS (Technology and Web Solutions) unit will be integrated with Possible Worldwide.

What Does This Mean For Publishers & Advertisers?

Speaking with MediaNama, Quasar founder Manish Vij said that the partnership will afford Quasar common leverages and common media buying capabilities as the largest digital media shareholder; the announcement note states, in no uncertain terms, that the combination will “form a formidable force controlling a major share of India’s digital marketing spends“. Vij said that “if you’re buying more, you have more leverage on rates. GroupM has leverage in some cases, and Quasar also has competing buying rates. Now that we have more considerable buying scenario, the efficiencies for clients will increase.” He said it’s not possible to objectively define the cost of inventory for clients.

Vij, understandably, downplayed the impact on buying efficiencies, saying that the bigger impact is in terms of clients getting better platforms to work on, much more of a cross platform leverage, shared learning, and better search and creative capabilities. Some of this is going to be driven by the creation of cross-agency “Center of Excellence” teams for Creative, Mobile, Search and Social, which will work on optmised, larger spends, and leverage learning from clients across agencies, while at the same time, Vij hastened to add, maintaining confidentiality.

Our take on this: While creating cross-agency teams for leveraging learning and multiple platforms better is great, it’s the media buying consolidation piece that caught our attention: it’s not that agencies have had an insubstantial leverage in the advertising market; if anything, publishers are often left worse off. It’s strange that while agencies are combining forces and forming a network to bring down rates, publishers themselves have done little in terms of, pardon the phrase, cartelization. What happened to the big IAMAI-AAAI deal for publishers? We sent a note to the IAMAI President Subho Ray last week, requesting details on the operationalization of the deal, but haven’t from him so far.

What we’ve heard so far from discussions in the market, (i.e. unconfirmed gossip) is that several big publishers don’t want to say no to money, and unwilling to blacklist advertisers or agencies for poor practices related to other publishers.

We doubt that anyone will come on the record on this, but we’ll try and get something on this. In the meantime, if you want to share an opinion or your perspective on this anonymously (we need to know who you are, but we won’t tell anyone), email nikhil@medianama.com .