Sudipto Das
Guest Article

The future of Indian digital advertising is programmatic: PubMatic

According to Boston Consulting Group, programmatic will grow from a market value of US$2.7 billion to US$6.8 billion for APAC from 2017 to 2020.

The future of Indian digital advertising is increasingly becoming mobile, data-enabled and programmatic.

It is estimated that programmatic will grow from a market value of US$2.7 billion to US$6.8 billion for APAC from 2017 to 2020, according to Boston Consulting Group. And as more advertisers in India seek to benefit from the advantages of targetted data driven advertising, the sub-continent will be responsible for much of that growth.

As programmatic advertising matures in India, we have noticed several compelling trends emerge.

Rising importance of mobile

The availability of inexpensive smartphone technology coupled with increasingly fast internet speeds, and low data costs in India means we’re seeing an upwards mobile consumption trend.

According to eMarketer, in 2019, time spent on mobile devices will account for 76.5 per cent of all time spent online amongst adults in India. And this trend is set to continue to grow.

And where consumers go, advertisers follow. Mobile ad spending in India is skyrocketing – India saw 42.2 per cent growth in mobile ad spending in 2019, making it the fastest growing market for mobile ad spend – ahead of Russia, Brazil and Mexico (eMarketer).

However, in order to really capitalise on this opportunity, there are some areas of focus we believe advertisers need to consider:

Work with supply partners to eliminate fraud and instil better measurement

Advertisers remain fearful of investing their programmatic budgets into mobile channels, due to the perceived quality of mobile app inventory and rampant mobile ad fraud.

Additionally, the launch of Open Measurement SDK by IAB will create a standard measurement ground for all verification partners to better fight fraud. These initiatives will establish a path to quality inventory where advertisers can feel more confident in mobile advertising.

Create mobile-first formats

The mobile environment offers advertisers an incredible canvas to create really engaging ads. Mobile-first formats such as inter-scrollers and vertical videos, and interactive ads, such as gamified ads will help advertisers really drive engagement on mobile. These ads can generate an engagement rate that is two to three times higher than that of a standard display unit.

Add to that the incredible opportunity to use data to personalise ads that mobile affords – allowing marketers to micro-target based on device ID, utilising first-, second- and third-party data – and you’re onto a winner.

Continued demand for video supply

Given the accessibility of mobile devices and the low cost of 4G usage, it is no surprise that there is a shift from TV to mobile, as people in India consume more video on their devices. For sure, eMarketer predicts that India is soon set to beat the US in terms of digital video viewership, with mobile phone video viewers predicted to increase from 257.8 million in 2019, to 411 million in 2023.

With the huge surge in digital video consumption, it’s no surprise that big brands such as Unilever and Proctor & Gamble are increasingly shifting their programmatic focus to include video.

As growth in OTT video views continues in India, PubMatic has embarked on a strategy to onboard premium OTT publishers such as VOOT, Sony LIV and Zee5.

Growth of programmatic guaranteed and private marketplaces

As programmatic matures in India we have seen a steady growth in programmatic guaranteed (PG) and private marketplaces (PMP). A 2018 study by Boston Consulting Group predicts that PG as a buying mechanism is on the increase across APAC (accounting for 6 per cent of display and video ad spend in 2017, and set to rise to 11 per cent by 2020). In India, the same study found that PG spend will rise from 6 per cent of display and video ad spend in 2017 to 17 per cent by 2020 – outpacing the region as a whole.

We see that these buying mechanisms, PG and PMP, have gained popularity amongst media buyers. They are focussed on ensuring their ads run in brand-safe environments, and that they are able to secure premium inventory in environments where quality supply is scarce. Both PG and PMPs offer buyers an automated alternative to direct IO (insertion order) buying.

Additionally, advertisers who want more control over their programmatic buys can work with supply-side partners to build curated marketplaces around their verticals or audiences of choice.

And it’s not just the buy-side enjoying the benefits - publishers also prefer these models as they guarantee revenues and allows them to control the execution of their inventory.

In summary – the opportunity for programmatic advertisers in India is huge. By capitalising on the above trends and tailoring their approach to programmatic, buyers are set to see increasingly efficient returns on their investment in this channel – which is great for everyone in the ecosystem – buyers, publishers and tech partners alike.

(Sudipto Das is regional director, India and Southeast Asia, PubMatic a California headquartered company that develops and implements online advertising software and strategies for the publishing industry.)

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