Will 2019 be the Year of Programmatic Advertising in India?

Programmatic advertising isn’t particularly new, especially in developed markets. It has already transformed the world of advertising in advanced markets globally. Most top end and long tail content providers across the globe are leveraging programmatic advertising to get the most from their content inventory.

In the US, for example, programmatic advertising as a share of display advertising has been growing dramatically. It went from 24 percent in 2011 to 83 percent in 2017, if we consider both Real-Time-Bidding (RTB) and non-RTB advertising. A recent forecast from Zenith predicts that advertisers will likely spend $84bn on programmatic marketing in 2019, as compared to $70bn in 2018.

The picture in India is slightly different though. India is still at a nascent stage when it comes to adoption of programmatic advertising, since it was introduced only a couple of years ago. If global forecasts are any indication, we can expect a slow and steady growth in adoption in this year. But before Indian organisations fully embrace programmatic advertising, there will likely be a learning curve as they figure out ways to get the best out of their efforts. The organisations need to first put their own houses in order in terms of better strategies and superior in-house support. Education and awareness will become crucial in 2019. Having said that, here are a few trends that we can expect to see in the world of programmatic advertising in India.

Trend 1: Integration of Newer Avenues

While the number of advertising channels was earlier restricted to just a few such as television, radio, print etc., the list is far more expansive today. Apart from traditional channels, it ranges from OTT, VOD, to digital channels such as YouTube.

The ability to take an integrated approach that successfully leverages the potential strength of each new channel is key. Identifying the right mix for the ad inventory can help increase impact and ROI.

Trend 2: The Power of AI

Given that programmatic advertising involves several terabytes of data to sift through and analyse, AI can play a crucial role. It can not only facilitate quicker and better decision making, it can help offer personalisation and predictive capabilities to increase revenue and ROI. To get the most of any AI investment though, there needs to be clear strategy and vision. In addition, the organisation needs to facilitate clean data gathering and provide the necessary technology support.

Trend 3: In-App Advertising

We’ve seen a proliferation of mobile devices and usage of various apps in India. As per a recent report from technology research consulting firm techARC, Indians have an average of 51 apps installed on their smartphones. Not surprisingly, in-app advertising has become a popular choice among advertisers. This will continue to be a trend in 2019 with more targeted advertising for enhanced user engagement.

Trend 4: Momentum on Tackling Fraud

Globally, there has been an industry-wide push to tackle ad fraud through the use of technologies such as Blockchain. We can expect to see the issue of ad fraud arise in India as well, as adoption of programmatic advertising takes off. Technology providers in India need to rally together to find an industry wide solution to address this issue.

Trend 5: Serious investments in technology and talent

As the industry grows in India, we can expect to see a growing demand for experts who have deep knowledge of the underlying technology, data, marketing and consumer behaviour for programmatic advertising. Organisations will also seek people who are comfortable working with humungous amounts of data that needs to be analysed for programmatic advertising. Therefore, companies will need to make some serious investments in getting and grooming the right talent if they want to see their programmatic advertising efforts bear fruit.

Online content consumption in India is in a state of flux right now. As users become more mature, India’s content revenue landscape will see major changes. Users will not only be more willing to pay for quality content, they will also be more likely to view ad-supported content especially when ads are highly relevant to the user. Therefore, it is time for every content publisher to review their revenue strategy to ensure they are keeping up with the changing landscape. Not only should they strive to be more relevant and malleable, but they also need to make the right investments into resources and talent that can support their evolution.

Of course, there is no one size that fits all, but being nimble and responsive to changing customer and advertiser preferences is certainly the way to go.

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