Ruchika Jha

Moloco’s Indian growth trajectory: Navigating the intersection of innovation and opportunity

The company has about 30 to 50 clients in India, including Zupee and Jio.

The introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) has sparked discussions across various sectors. Several adtech platforms have begun offering AI solutions, reflecting the evolving landscape of technological integration in businesses and industries.

Moloco, which stands for Machine Learning Company, is a US-based adtech company focussed on machine learning. Some of Moloco’s global clients include Burger King, Bumble, DraftKings, and Playrix. The company’s global revenue stands at over a billion dollars.

The company currently boasts around 30-50 clients in India, including Zupee, Jio, and CityMall. Siddharth Jhawar, general manager, Moloco India, shares that Moloco mainly focusses on the gaming fraternity due to the nature of its work. It is working with 9 out of 11 major gaming companies in India. Additionally, e-commerce represents the second significant market for the adtech company.

Our company sees India as an innovation hub.

Journey to India

Moloco entered India in November 2022. Jhawar mentions that Moloco is also present in Europe, Japan, China, South Korea, Southeast Asia, some parts of South America, and Australia. Talking about the Indian market, he says that he was the first employee of the company in the country, and is quite optimistic about India as a market.

“India is not just a market for Moloco, but also a place where our new products will be created,” says Jhawar.

According to him, the size of the digital ads market in India is about $10 billion, and the total global market is around $800 billion to a trillion dollars. Therefore, India, in that sense, is small. But, he adds that even if India is a small market, many industry leaders still believe that the market is breaking out, and the spirit in which it is growing is encouraging.

“We are at $9 billion right now and are about to hit $10 billion soon. The digital ads market has surpassed the TV ads market in size. The movement is in the right direction, and in a matter of time, it will become a $20 billion market,” says Jhawar.

He also highlights that India is a great place to manufacture new products in a way that many other countries in the world cannot. He explains, “The ads that users are streaming right now have reached 30 million concurrency views, which is very rare for a product to achieve, and India provides this scale benefit. Our company sees India as an innovation hub.”

As per Jhawar, Moloco India has established a global engineering centre in Bangalore and hired a senior engineer from Google to lead the team. He has recruited a group of engineers based in India who will also be developing a product line for the company.

In recent developments, it has been observed that Indian digital agencies are increasingly targeting the Middle East market due to the region’s growing advertising industry. Since they bring expertise and technology to the table, they become attractive partners for brands seeking to tap into the market.

Utilising some of the technologies that big tech companies use is something we intend to build for a bunch of streamers in India and globally.

Jhawar believes that this expansion happens only from India’s perspective, but from a global market perspective, the Middle East is not as large a market. “Typically, the Middle East follows after the major markets, that is, the US, Europe, Japan, China, and South Korea. Moloco already operates there. However, as our company expands, we aspire to expand into most of the significant markets.”

Partnership with Viacom18 and JioCinema

In 2023, Moloco signed a multi-year partnership with Viacom18 and JioCinema. As part of this partnership, the company is using its advanced machine learning and ad-serving capabilities to build a monetisation solution for Viacom18/JioCinema, which began with the Tata IPL 2023.

Jhawar shares that initially, two big challenges had to be solved. One was at a large scale where Viacom18 operates, and the second was that cricket in India, including the IPL, is not becoming any bigger. Therefore, the company brought ads that are now targeted during live streams.

The more people question the effectiveness of every rupee spent, the industry overall will become more efficient.

He explains that if one utilises some of the technologies that big tech companies use today, they can enter newer advertiser pools and also increase their share of the wallet with existing advertisers. “You can also tap into more advertisers as well. This is something we intend to build for a bunch of streamers in India and globally.”

Adopting AdTech and MarTech trend practices

It is always good to learn and teach others what one possesses. Jhawar thinks a very good industry practice every Indian marketer should adopt from the global market is questioning the effectiveness of every rupee spent. Indian marketers usually say that half of their marketing budgets go to waste, but the problem is they do not know which half.

“You have to measure and evaluate. What happened to this money? Was it spent in the right place? Did someone defraud me? Did I get the right outcomes from that spend? The more people start asking these questions, the industry overall will become more efficient,” he asserts.

This is not the end of it. Jhawar also believes that global markets should learn the quality of agility from India. “India is entrepreneurial. Even large companies and Indian startups have an entrepreneurial mindset. We make things fast and do not over-plan; it is all very deep in our entrepreneurial DNA,” he conveys.

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