Benita Chacko

“Our vision is to become an important direct source of revenue for publishers”: Parva’s Raghu Seelamsetty

The founder and CEO of the publisher-owned adtech platform says Parva aims to become a viable option for agencies, advertisers and publishers.

For over a year now, digital publishers in India have been asking Google and Facebook to ensure a fair share of advertising revenue for them. The publishers are seeing their share of the advertising pie shrinking, even as the internet giants are taking a giant share of the advertising spends.

The Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) has filed a complaint with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Google for its unfair share of advertising revenue. The matter is still pending.

Parva, a newly launched adtech platform, aims to help publishers gain a better share of the ad revenue. A publisher-owned consortium, its members include Times Internet (TIL) and Marathi daily Sakal.

In an interview with afaqs!, Raghu Seelamsetty, founder and CEO of Parva, says his vision is to create not only a third pillar for the Indian ad ecosystem, but also more alternatives, both on the audience and technology side. He wants Parva to become a meaningful and viable option for agencies, advertisers and publishers.

“There is too much consolidation in this industry. So, 80-85 per cent of Rs Rs 21,353 crore digital media spends, goes to Google and Facebook. As more budgets are moving to digital media, agencies want more options beyond Google and Facebook. They want to have more platforms to take to their clients.”

“Advertisers need a lot of support, as there is tremendous price escalation. For publishers, money wasn't flowing to them. One, because most don't have the scale. And two, not many have invested in technology. So, that's how this whole thought process started.”

Seelamsetty decided to bring together a consortium of some of the largest publishers, create a platform that has a similar scale to Google and Facebook, and provide technology with which a media buyer can execute on the platform, just like he can with the tech giants.

Parva’s vision is to become a really important direct source of revenue for the publishers.

“Some publishers are unable to scale up their direct channel because it's very expensive to build the right technology stack. So, we're going to our publisher partners with the technology stack and salesforce, and directly sell the inventory to agencies and advertisers. And, because of the nature of the business model itself, this is going to yield better revenues for our publisher partners,” Seelamsetty mentions.

“Our goal is to support trustworthy, high quality journalism. Our industry is going to grow by leaps and bounds. And, we want to make sure our publisher partners get a fair share of that growth,” he adds.

In programmatic advertising, for every Rs 100 spent by the media buyer, the publisher can get around Rs 35-45. With Parva, they can expect to receive 20-30 per cent more.

“A lot of the value is taken away by the middlemen, who make this ecosystem work. There is no transparency in programmatic advertising. We are providing the publishers a transparent model. From the beginning, we're clear about how the revenue will be shared. We will use this as an opportunity to generate better revenues for the publishers as well,” Seelamsetty says.

Parva assures advertisers of brand safety. “There are two ways. One is through the nature of publishers we bring on board. We bring premium, high-quality publishers and they carry brand-safe content on their platform. Second, we leverage third-party technology platforms as a second level of check to ensure that the ads appear next to brand-safe content,” Seelamsetty adds.

Parva claims to be the first publisher-owned adtech platform. “The innovation is more on the business model side, and not necessarily on the technical side,” Seelamsetty concludes.

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