Programmatic & Plat­forms Mar­ket­ing Lead, Asia Pa­cific at Google, talks to Samarpita Baner­jee about the evolv­ing ecosys­tem of programmatic me­dia buy­ing and what lies ahead

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Q] Why has programmatic me­dia buy­ing gained promi­nence over the last few years?

In­dia has 400 mil­lion peo­ple on the In­ter­net, 300 mil­lion on smart­phones, and by 2020, the num­ber will go up to 650 mil­lion and 500 mil­lion re­spec­tively. We are more con­nected now than we have ever been, whether it’s In­dia or glob­ally. But that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean it’s eas­ier to con­nect with peo­ple. From a mar­keter’s per­spec­tive, it’s far more dif­fi­cult be­cause it’s a mul­ti­screen, multi-plat­form world. That’s what makes programmatic so at­trac­tive. It makes a mar­keter’s life eas­ier and more ef­fi­cient. It’s sim­ply the use of tech­nol­ogy for hit­ting the right per­son with the right mes­sage at the right time, but do­ing it ef­fi­ciently and at scale.

Q] How do you see pro­lif­er­a­tion of data im­pact­ing the me­dia buy­ing func­tion?

To­day, it’s all about data-driven creativ­ity. Ini­tially, the equa­tion was cre­ative plus me­dia. While it still holds true, data has been added as the third part of the equa­tion. Data is crit­i­cal, but it shouldn’t be data for data’s sake. Com­pa­nies get­ting it right fol­low three steps. First is to un­der­stand what’s the best data source for the busi­ness prob­lem at hand. Se­condly, have the cre­ative team, the me­dia agency and the mar­ket­ing team, all work­ing to­gether to un­der­stand what a cam­paign should look like. Thirdly, you keep that team to­gether, and learn from the cam­paigns. Th­ese steps make data-driven creativ­ity work well.

Q] In­dia hasn’t been as fast in its up­take of programmatic buy­ing as the West…

Many com­pa­nies in In­dia are em­brac­ing it, and see­ing good growth and progress in the use of programmatic. Def­i­nitely, there is room for up­side. I wouldn’t just re­strict this to In­dia, but there has to be a leap of faith. Once you get into it, it’s about hit­ting the right per­son at the right time with the right mes­sage, and tech­nol­ogy is the en­abler. We are in the programmatic jour­ney to­day where we were in the early days of search. In the early days, brands would have a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of search, and would rely on the me­dia plan. Now, as brands and mar­keters are far more fa­mil­iar with search, they are div­ing deeper and thereby hav­ing far more in­formed and pro­duc­tive con­ver­sa­tions. Programmatic is where search was about 10 years ago. As mar­keters get more un­der­stand­ing of programmatic, they will have bet­ter con­ver­sa­tions with agen­cies, and will get bet­ter re­sults. We have some brands that are in­vest­ing 70-100% of their digital bud­gets on programmatic. The value is so ob­vi­ous and im­me­di­ate, that peo­ple are re­al­iz­ing its im­por­tance.

With ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy, the jobs tend to change rather than get­ting lost. There will al­ways be an agency, and a me­dia plan­ner but the way they op­er­ate might change. With the adop­tion of plat­forms like Programmatic Guar­an­teed, the ad-ops per­son and even the agen­cies are get­ting freed up.

Q] What is Google do­ing to give the adop­tion of programmatic a push?

I look after mar­ket­ing for Asia-Pac and In­dia is a big op­por­tu­nity. It’s a two-way thing. We are here to help share the in­no­va­tions that we are de­vel­op­ing to help busi­nesses, whether it’s a publisher or an ad­ver­tiser or an agency, to do bet­ter in programmatic. We are also look­ing at some of the con­cerns that ad­ver­tis­ers have, like ad frauds and view­ablilty, etc. Events like Think Plat­form are also or­ga­nized so that we could lis­ten, share and ed­u­cate. Google has a grow­ing team for the programmatic busi­ness in In­dia, both on the buy and sell sides. That points to the ef­fort that we are putting in, as well as scale that we see in the mar­ket.

Q] How do you rate the scale of the programmatic ecosys­tem in In­dia?

Un­for­tu­nately, we haven’t seen any third party es­ti­mate. It’s hard for us to es­ti­mate as we are not the en­tire mar­ket. This is a work that needs to be done by re­search agen­cies or the me­dia agen­cies in the coun­try.

Q] Re­liance on au­to­ma­tion and ma­chines also brings with it a set of chal­lenges like the re­cent ad fraud that hap­pened. What is Google do­ing to en­sure that such things don’t hap­pen again in the fu­ture?

We are tak­ing this very se­ri­ously. We have a ded­i­cated team look­ing into th­ese chal­lenges.

Our teams across the globe are fo­cus­ing on the fac­tors that are caus­ing ad frauds and what we can do to ad­dress that. We are in a priv­i­leged po­si­tion as Google be­cause we have re­la­tion­ships on the ad­ver­tis­ing as well as the publisher side and we have scale. Se­condly, we are us­ing ma­chine­learn­ing to ad­dress th­ese prob­lems. Thirdly, we sup­port in­no­va­tions from the in­dus­try, like the ‘Ads.txt’ ini­tia­tive by In­ter­ac­tive Ad­ver­tis­ing Bureau (IAB) which is stop­ping coun­ter­feit pub­lish­ing. It’s an on­go­ing pur­suit.

Q] What do you think the role of a plan­ner will be in the fu­ture?

With ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy, the jobs tend to change rather than get­ting lost. There will al­ways be an agency, and a me­dia plan­ner but the way they op­er­ate might change. I can’t spec­u­late on how it will change. With the adop­tion of plat­forms like Programmatic Guar­an­teed, the ad-ops per­son and even the agen­cies are get­ting freed up.

They are do­ing less of the man­ual, ad­min­is­tra­tive work which al­lows them to spend time on more pro­duc­tive things like cross-cam­paign anal­y­sis, post-cam­paign anal­y­sis and strate­gic con­ver­sa­tions.

Q] What is the next big step in programmatic? What can we look for­ward to?

The line be­tween TV and video is blur­ring, so fur­ther down the line, you will soon see programmatic TV and Out­door. We are hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions in In­dia and the coun­try def­i­nitely has po­ten­tial for programmatic TV. There is more to come. We are also see­ing programmatic get­ting into In­ter­net Ra­dio in the West. If there is a digital as­pect to it, there is an op­por­tu­nity for programmatic there. The more programmatic gets into other medi­ums, the bet­ter it is in terms of ex­pe­ri­ence for the mar­keter as well as the user.

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