33% of digital inventory in India is programmatic: Matt Brocklehurst, Google

Brocklehurst, Google APAC's programmatic and platforms marketing lead, talks about the trends and growth drivers of programmatic advertising in India

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Updated: Feb 26, 2019 8:17 AM
Matt Brocklehurst Google

The explosion of internet users in India is prompting publishers to choose programmatic advertising and open up premium inventory to programmatic bidding. Matt Brocklehurst, programmatic and platforms marketing lead-Asia Pacific at Google, says that around 33 per cent of video and display inventory is on programmatic in India. This is expected to further grow at the rate of 45 per cent YoY in 2019.  

While the Indian ad market’s share of programmatic inventory is healthy, “it is not as high as some other markets in the region,” says Brocklehurst. “One-third of India’s inventory is on programmatic. In comparison, China has 40 per cent of its inventory on programmatic and in Australia, it is as high as 60 per cent.” But the immense growth potential of the inventory “makes India an exciting market for programmatic,” he says.

Brocklehurst, who has worked across geographies, says that he finds the Indian market very interesting. “I used to think that MEA was quite diverse in terms of the different marketplaces. But then when you see APAC, it’s on a whole different level in terms of business maturity, cultural factors etc. It is very exciting market. Within APAC, one of the most interesting markets is India.”

He says this is because of India’s tremendous growth potential. “India is a crucial market because it is within the top 10 ad markets globally at around $11 bn. As per GroupM’s latest forecast, India will see an incremental growth of around $1.35 bn in 2019. This growth is bigger than the growth of Russia, Australia, and Brazil combined,” he points out.  

India has around 560 mn internet users (as per TRAI's September 2018 report)  and a forecast of reaching 650 mn by 2020, and advertisers will need to embrace programmatic if they want to reach the ever growing consumer population that is going digital.

“As digital activity is increasing across devices and consumers are searching for products online more and more, programmatic can now be used across the entire consumer journey,” he says. This is real big sea change in how programmatic is being used in India. “Until now, programmatic has been seen primarily as a performance vehicle.” But the changing consumer behaviour is turning programmatic into a viable option for brand communication too.   

Last year, Truecaller went 100 per cent programmatic and put all its ad inventory on programmatic advertising. It opted for Programmatic Guaranteed, a Google service, to get a fair price for its premium inventory while getting the efficiency of programmatic. Brocklehurst says that companies like Truecaller that are doing an excellent job with programmatic and pushing the envelope are quite often the challengers in the marketplace. “What is interesting about India is that companies are able to leapfrog into the programmatic space. Whereas if you see other markets like Australia, you have publishers that have legacy systems, legacy attitudes towards programmatic.”

As per Google, since implementing the automated process, Truecaller acquired more than 200 advertisers (70 per cent of which are repeat customers), and its business grew more than 100 per cent YoY. “Using programmatic has actually opened up more business for them,” says Brocklehurst. 
Even as some challenger brands are using programmatic, there is a lot of room to grow in India. “We are very happy with growth we are seeing in India, yet there are lots of publishers and advertisers who are not embracing programmatic fully and just experimenting. We have also noticed that there is a talent and knowledge gap in India. There is room for training and better understanding of programmatic,” Brocklehurst observes. 

Brocklehurst is of strong opinion that programmatic can help both advertisers and publishers achieve the best ROI. Publishers have traditionally been very reluctant towards trading premium inventory programmatically. This is because they can negotiate and demand high value for the inventory which is more or less the crown jewels of the publisher. 

“The way that premium inventory was traded traditionally was a very manual process with lots of interaction by email, calls, and face-to-face. It was estimated to be around 40 steps. That is a costly and time consuming process which could lead to mistakes. For publishers, especially in India, there were delays in payments. Due to this, publishers had to employ people just to chase invoices,” he explains.  

As per a BCG study, from insertion order to billing, media buyers spent 29 per cent less time on setup and ongoing campaign management with Programmatic Guaranteed compared to traditional reservations. And media owners spent 57 per cent less time on setup and ongoing management compared to traditional reservations. In a separate study by Nielsen, brands that consolidated their campaigns using Programmatic Guaranteed, experienced an 11% increase in reach efficiency. 

All these factors make programmatic a preferred option for greater reach for buyers and increased efficiency for both buyers and sellers, he says. 


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