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Stephen Lepitak
Editor at The Drum
Gracie Page
Emerging Technology Director at VMLY&R London

Digital advertising in India - a 2020 outlook

Sudipto Das is regional director SEA and India at PubMatic.

The Indian digital advertising market is one of the fastest growing in the world, buoyed by a gigantic middle class that is growing exponentially every year.

Media publishers are working closer with advertisers and agencies to deliver brand advertising solutions via programmatic, or data-driven media buying channels, across a multitude of devices and platforms.

We work with all players in the ad tech industry from publishers to advertising agencies and data providers. We asked seven of our partners how the programmatic market is progressing, and what 2020 and beyond will look like. Here are their views, including my own prediction.

Salil Kumar, chief operating officer, India Today

"We are now selling a sizeable chunk of our advertising inventory via programmatic. We have added a DMP (data management platform), and we are looking to build out our own first party data set. My prediction for programmatic advertising is that it will be one of the main sources of revenue for publishers. It’s going to be the largest revenue generator, as there are huge efficiencies for publishers and advertisers."

Abhigyan Shekhar, sales head - digital ventures, Viacom18

"We started exploring programmatic advertising sometime early last year, and it’s now 40% of our sales mix. We expect it to go to 60% next year.

"In the next 12 months I see publishers understanding data from end users a lot better, better collaboration between all the adtech players to create scale, and a viable alternative to the walled gardens. In the coming years, my main prediction is that online video will be a billion dollar opportunity."

Gaurav Seth, managing director India, Lotame

"A few years back when publishers and marketers were looking to run data driven campaigns, they would consider DMP’s as a first step. Fast forward to now, and DMP’s have become far more varied and sophisticated - they now being used for content personalisation, as well as ad targeting. Our prediction for programmatic advertising is that we’ll see far more publisher alliances, along with increased second party data, and transparency."

Salil Shanker, chief operating officer, Amnet

"In the complex digital media environment, it was important to create centralised service-based agencies to reduce media wastage, and to discover a new way of targeting. We have changed the concept of media buying with programmatic advertising, by introducing new business and trading models. I have three predictions. That brands are looking to consolidate their adtech stack with a limited mix of partners. That TV and OOH (out-of-home) will be increasingly traded programmatically. And finally, that 50% to 60% of digital will be traded programmatically."

Deepak Tahiliani, head of digital media investments, Group M India

"Programmatic is evolving, and we have to up-skill in a scattered and fragmented media environment. We are all in to create a fully transparent and clean media ecosystem. India is a big country with a large audience. Our goal is to create a proper data framework for advertisers in India to ensure we are reaching consumers in the right way."

Prabhvir Sahmey, marketing platform head, Google

"As we look at the next five years, DSPs will look at the way they automate marketing. From automating your SMS’s and email messages to optimising the way your website looks. The biggest opportunity of programmatic is that we are starting to see it expand into traditional media. We will see television, cinema and out-of-home come and be part of the programmatic ecosystem."

Vineet Singh, head of brand and marketing, WeWork

"The opportunities in programmatic are many, ranging from more data and insights, providing a unified view across all platforms, to more efficiency in media buying and better user acquisition. It is a one-stop-shop for all devices and media.

"For the next twelve months we are aiming to buy more brand-safe supply, consolidate our programmatic inventory, and invest more in quality rather than quantity buys. We are also working on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) project with our programmatic team in India."

Sudipto Das, regional director SEA and India, PubMatic

"Traditionally SSPs have been always been publisher focused, however in the last year we’ve also been working closely with large advertisers and agencies to deliver a trusted and brand-safe environment. The programmatic ecosystem is constantly growing and evolving as more brand dollars flow in – and we expect to see SSPs continuing to work more closely with agencies and advertisers as they seek to optimise their supply paths. Buyers will start buying inventory from fewer and fewer supply sources, and partners that provide buying efficiencies, fraud-free guarantees, and brand safe buying solutions, are the ones that will thrive."

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