The second edition of the e4m Media ACE Awards was held at St. Regis Mumbai on August 11, 2016. These awards recognize the contribution of Indian media agencies and highlight the important role that they are playing to shape the future of advertising. The sponsors for the event included Colors, News18 Network, Nickledon, Lokmat, SonyMix, Surewaves, Blogmint and 24Frames.
A panel discussion on the topic--Programmatic Buying of Brands: Media Owners Vs Agencies was held during the event. The participants included Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO South Asia Dentsu Aegis Network, Chairman Posterscope and psLive - Asia Pacific, who was also the moderator of the discussion, Arun Anant, Director of Revenue and Strategy, HT Media Limited, Avinash Pandey, Chief Revenue Office, ANN & COO, ABP News, Ashish Sehgal, COO, Zee Unimedia, Partho Dasgupta, Chief Executive Officer, BARC India, Siddharth Banerjee, Senior Vice President- Marketing, Vodafone India Ltd, Sudip Ghose, Vice President- Marketing, VIP Industries and Sabyasachi Mitter, MD, ibs.
Sharing his thoughts on the subject, Partho Dasgupta, Chief Executive Officer, BARC India said, “There is not much awareness about data driven marketing in India. There is overall a lack of data in the industry and lot needs to be done, especially in terms of raising awareness about programmatic buying and data driven marketing.”
Getting in the news media perspective on programmatic buying into the debate, Avinash Pandey, Chief Revenue Office, ANN & COO, ABP News raised few concerns regarding its use. In his view the use of programmatic advertising kills the relation between the buyer and the media owner and the biggest casualty becomes the brand itself. He said, “At times programmatic buying completely finishes off the social relationship and the values that we have developed over the years. It completely demolishes them by being guided by random numbers which actually does not help.”
Arguing that programmatic advertising is about serving the right message in the right context, Siddharth Banerjee, Senior Vice President- Marketing, Vodafone India Ltd said, “As a brand owner I do think that we are about to scratch the surface of programmatic buying in India. The challenge that brand owners like me face is that we might have the maths of programmatic buying but what do we do with it. Am I actually serving different messages for different audiences? I think that is the journey that a lot of brand owners among us have yet to undertake. What programmatic actually means is that if you have a set of target audiences which you have been able to define, let’ say 50 different parts of it, you should actually be able to produce 50 different pieces of communication and targeting it by using the right context. I would say that we have just started the journey of programmatic in India.”
Explaining how programmatic is increasingly presenting a new business opportunity, Ashish Sehgal, COO, Zee Unimedia said, “I agree with Partho when he said that it is too early to discuss programmatic in India. Though it is common, as far as the digital platforms are concerned, but for us the big challenge is how to extend programmatic buying to TV in India. When you talk about programmatic, it is growing at a tremendous pace in the developed countries, since they have better access to technology and have the supporting infrastructure too. I think for programmatic to grow in India we have to focus on developing technology and infrastructure and it has to be contextual too. As far as our organisation is concerned, we are constantly thinking of ways to marry digital and TV.”
Accepting the fact that programmatic buying is the way forward, Arun Anant, Director of Revenue and Strategy, HT Media said that programmatic buying will not completely replace what is already there but it will definitely supplement what already exists in the media space.
“Programmatic buying helps to reach a wider audience and the splurge on it is justified as the inventory is not that costly,” commented Sudip Ghose, Vice President- Marketing, VIP Industries.
Highlighting the challenges and the opportunities of programmatic buying in India, Sabyasachi Mitter, MD, ibs said, “I think many people believe that programmatic is an extension of AdWords. What we need to do is to get behind the scene and understand programmatic buying in the right way. It is a science and media planners are not necessarily data scientists but they are still doing programmatic, even many clients do not understand it.”
“For programmatic to be effective, it is important to build capability ahead of the curve and India is a leap frog economy and in some cases it moves extremely fast,” added Banerjee.
Concluding the session, Bhasin said, “I believe that programmatic is going to be extremely important very soon, and as Siddharth said, it is important to invest ahead of the curve; I believe that programmatic will happen in a big way, not just in digital but in other media as well. As the panellists have pointed out, there is need to develop technology and infrastructure and make sure that it is used well. Moreover, as far as the agencies are concerned, efficiency and impact are going to become all the more important with the use of tools like programmatic buying.”