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India Ahead Of Many APAC Markets

With India witnessing a three-fold increase in the use of programmatic, Matt Brocklehurst, Programmatic & Platforms Marketing Lead, Asia Pacific at Google India tells Ruhail Amin about the factors that have enabled this robust growth and how its use has replaced the manual process with an automated process and brought efficient practices into the environment

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When it comes to the use of programmatic, how has the Indian market responded to its use and adoption?  
The current penetration of programmatic in India is 41 per cent. It is ahead of many Asia Pacific markets already. One of the drivers of this growth is a form of programmatic called the ‘programmatic guaranteed’. Earlier, there was not much research in Asia Pacific in terms of the state of the marketplace. We have worked with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Nielsen to look at how programmatic is affecting businesses globally and particularly in India. According to them, the penetration in India is going from 6 to 17 per cent, which is almost a 3x growth in programmatic guaranteed for India.

It is particularly interesting for India because here, there is a lot of engagement with programmatic guaranteed. Typically, when people look at programmatic from a publisher’s perspective, they look at premium inventories such as homepage, masthead or a premium video, which are all the crown jewels of a publisher. Usually publishers are not keen to put that in programmatic environment because they want a fixed price and guaranteed volume. What programmatic guarantee does is that it allows publishers to trade the price and have guaranteed volume with an agency. Moreover, what it has done is that it has replaced the manual with automated processes and brought efficient practices into the environment.

According to you, what are some of the major factors that have mainstreamed the use of programmatic?
There is no doubt that new technologies are seen with certain amount of scepticism by marketers, but programmatic appears to be the exception. The sheer transparency and efficiency that programmatic ensures have put this technology at the centrestage of today’s marketing practices. One of the biggest advantages of programmatic is that you are dealing in a very transparent environment. Though there are also some concerns around programmatic, we take them very seriously at Google. I would also like to mention that programmatic as a concept and product is still very young and we are looking at ways to improve. But at the same time everyone in this domain is committed to delivering maximum value and maximum transparency. Also, marketers are now getting a fair insight into the programmatic world.

While programmatic advertising has helped brand owners and brand manufacturers in driving better performance by leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and  Machine Learning (ML) in digital advertising, India in particular is witnessing a phenomenal rise in its use. Programmatic has brought in an era of automation, ridding the advertising industry of its complacency and successfully establishing itself as one of the cornerstones of the online advertising ecosystem.

Is marketing today more complicated? 
People may be far more connected now, but the irony is that marketing has become far more challenging since we are living in a multi-channel and multi-screen world. The challenge is how to connect with these people in a meaningful and engaging way.

What kinds of trends do we foresee in the programmatic space in coming time?    
There is no doubt that with digital, you can spend small, try new things and scale quickly. If we look at the India market specifically, there are 400 million people online, which should go to 650 million by 2020. The opportunity of connecting with these people has never been bigger. If we look at global trends, programmatic is entering its next stage of evolution — dynamic creatives gaining control, ad fraud being reduced and the potential to innovate has expanded by leaps and bounds within this space. Most importantly, we are seeing an increase in spends. It is around 40 per cent, globally, at the moment and will go up to 60 per cent. I think programmatic TV and programmatic outdoor will happen in the years to come as India is a good market for that. There is still a lot of work to be done. There’s also a lot of advantage for brands to get involved in this space. But further down the line, programmatic TV is a distinct possibility. In TV and outdoor, programmatic will start moving into those spaces as video on TV starts growing; stitching that together is another opportunity for marketers. The challenge is, how one makes sure of staying ahead of the competition and doing the best in a multi-channel world. We will also see the adoption of programmatic grow significantly in the next few years.

How is Google dealing with the issue of ad blocking and ad fraud?
Google takes ad blockers very seriously. We belong to the coalition of better ad standards. Ad fraud is an ongoing question that we have invested time and money and people to solve. It’s important to understand the nature of the problem. I think this issue can be resolved by looking at ads that are triggering the use of ad blockers. In fact, our entire focus is that the ads we support should add more value to the user.

How is India’s push towards digital economy helping the growth of programmatic in India?
India’s huge smartphone user base has opened up new possibilities and opportunities for the use of programmatic. Programmatic guaranteed  has already convinced players that this approach paves way for a more cost-effective and efficient process compared to the manual one. The increasing smartphone penetration in tier-1 and tier-2 cities in India is going to mainstream the use of programmatic even further. The fact that we are living in a highly connected world, mobile will continue to define the programmatic space and the new thinking that it requires. It will keep getting more mature with time.

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Magazine 31 March 2018 media and entertainment

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