Where is India programmatically?

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A brief background about myself – I have worked in the Digital Media industry for about 6 years now. I have had the opportunity to work across multiple businesses and roles – operations, buying, sales, ad network, social media, SAAS platform business, demand side platform and now audience on programmatic.

So what is programmatic going to change in India? Some of the most common questions that I see people asking –

  1. Will the sales guys lose their jobs?
  2. Now the inventory will lose its premium value command?
  3. No need to block big deals, small ticket will be the new mantra.
  4. How will TV and traditional become programmatic, it’s not even digital?
  5. Only the Big 4 will benefit – Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple?
  6. Where is this “Walled garden”?
  7. Mobile will take time to come on programmatic.
  8. Why I can’t buy on CPC, CPL?
  9. Which platform/DSP to use and why are they so expensive?
  1. Will the sales guys lose their jobs?

This is the most common question. This is the reason many guys find it difficult to accept the fact the Programmatic is the new way to buy. In fact it’s better for all. If I were to look at it, it might make the media buyer’s job redundant. Sales guys will perhaps move from selling inventory to selling license to buy or the platform technology.

Selling is always needed!” If any organization plays it well in terms of sales channel – there can be a huge demand created by giving birth to a new set of species in our industry – Media Traders. Exactly what we see in the stock market can be replicated here. So for that there will always be a selling team needed. Thank God I am a sales guy 😉

2. Now the inventory will lose its premium value command?

Many early guys who got on to programmatic buying specially in India are smiling away to glory as there are some premium inventories available for a very cheap price. But let’s look at some facts here – India is one of the markets which has the most significant supply available on programmatic. India is a market where supply has come in much early than demand. Once we have all the leading agencies and top advertisers using programmatic platforms and tools, it will a different picture.

3. No need to block big deals, small ticket will be the new mantra – Mini Recharge!

Programmatic platform does give you the liberty of buying as per your need. But the premium deals will continue to happen the way they do, but will just operate via the platform instead as it’s a much cleaner and smoother way to function. Moral of the story – both Ambani and Bambani will co-exist together on one platform.

4. How will TV and traditional become programmatic, it’s not even Digital?

Well it’s true that in the US there are some trials already run where TV and OOH is being bought via programmatic. India by nature is so heavy on TV and even OOH is growing, programmatic can only be a boon. Especially for players who do all channels of marketing. Back in the day it made sense to have separate agency do your traditional and separate agency do your digital. But with the technology moving so fast and with platforms one can centralize all buying – TV, OOH, Digital. Then why not?

5. Only the Big 4 will benefit – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple?

Someone once told me that these Big 4 companies are the East India Company of today’s time. It did made a lot of sense 🙂 But I see programmatic enabling small business too. As in 2006-07 India saw a period where there were many Ad networks starting (Komli, Ozone, Tyroo, and Admagnet), today we see many independent trading desks starting shop all thanks to the liberation programmatic brings with it. You can buy a license of DSP’s and/or ad platforms and start your trading business today. Apart from the Big 4 companies, there are many companies which are pretty successful like – Appnexus, Pubmatic, Rubicon, and Mediamath. They do sit on Google and FB but they are certainly building an eco-system which is enabling a lot of businesses.

6. Where is this “Walled garden”?

Walled garden! Suddenly this word is trending in the Adtech circle. Every company like Google, Facebook, and Apple are creating their own eco-system which will lead to having more control over their users. Some companies in India are also doing this. So everybody will make their own walled garden and have specific channels to buy and target their users. But none of these companies are ever going to limit their channel of sales. They will only add more channels. So the walled garden will probably only create some hype around the value of the user, but gradually it will all merge through various channels.

7. Mobile will take time to come on programmatic.

In India, Search advertising took about 5-7 years to take ground. Social took about 3 years or so. Display never really took ground as it didn’t have a science behind it. Re-targeting and Contextual to some extent did, but without transparency, measurement and attribution tools it’s going to be difficult to take off from here. Mobile is clearly accepted and being consumed, but it’s yet in a very grey area. Today we can buy and sell programmatically on mobile. But the transparency and measurement one can do with web, is not possible with mobile. At least it is not as commonly used. One reason could be that there are a lot more users of mobile and growing. Also mobile is more strictly governed by privacy laws hence giving some companies an extended black box time.

8. Why I cant buy on CPC, CPL?

Programmatic bridges a lot of corners of the eco-system which needs to have one common language. Hence CPM becomes the language to talk in, not sure if this will change for some time. But at the same time this does open opportunities for companies to play on this, because if someone can decode this language and make it work successfully for the trading community it will be a boon to the system. Not necessary that if something is not done and executed by the Big-4, it’s not worth trying 🙂

9. Which platform/DSP to use and why are they so expensive?

Back in the day agencies used to charge 15% or so for handling campaigns on Search and digital where it was all manually operated. With time it has only come down. Over these last 7-8 years there has been billions of dollars of investment in Ad-tech bringing in so much sophistication and opening of an eco-system. Some of these platforms and DSP’s would chalk out their commercials as 15% ++ and buyers in India demand 5% all inclusive or even lesser. May be that’s the reason programmatic is coming slow to India. May be the top guys sitting out there are scared of the next era being ruled and dominated by tech and not relations, by open eco-systems and not closed door lobbies, results and not just promises, white board and not black-box. If anyone is looking to start a trading business they say Appnexus is the most commonly used. Mediamath has gained fast adoption in SEA in very less time. DBM too is here to stay as it gains more traction in this side world.

All of the above is just my personal view. I could be wrong with some facts. Would love to know what you think.

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