Mr. Rajiv Kumar, Founder and CEO, RockeTalk
Rajiv Kumar, an IIT Mumbai alumni and a proven entrepreneur who previously built and sold Bluetooth® software company WIDCOMM to Broadcom in 2004, founded RockeTalk in 2005.<br><br> Prior to RockeTalk, Rajiv was the founder and CTO of Widcomm, a technology and market leader in Bluetooth solutions. Prior to Widcomm, Rajiv was a VP and CTO at Uniden’s San Diego research and development center, which he co-founded.<br><br> RockeTalk was founded in November 2005 and has developed and launched a social media platform where users can create any combination of text, voice, photo, and video messages, share with any contacts, join communities and chat with individuals and groups, and access a variety of entertainment and content.
Rajiv Kumar, an IIT Mumbai alumni and a proven entrepreneur who previously built and sold Bluetooth® software company WIDCOMM to Broadcom in 2004, founded RockeTalk in 2005.
Prior to RockeTalk, Rajiv was the founder and CTO of Widcomm, a technology and market leader in Bluetooth solutions. Prior to Widcomm, Rajiv was a VP and CTO at Uniden’s San Diego research and development center, which he co-founded.
RockeTalk was founded in November 2005 and has developed and launched a social media platform where users can create any combination of text, voice, photo, and video messages, share with any contacts, join communities and chat with individuals and groups, and access a variety of entertainment and content.
“We do not have revenue targets for 2010. We are not looking to make revenue at all this year. Our core focus is and will remain to get as many members as possible. We will make some revenue this year but that is going to be negligible… Our plans are very ambitious, though within the parameters of realism. Right now we are 2 million users in India. In the next 12 months it is expected to grow to 10 million. And we firmly believe we can get there, solely because it is not company driving growth but the current users inviting more users.” Q. Airtel said that RockeTalk is the most downloaded application in India. What is the scenario with other cellular providers in India? Airtel recorded this phenomenal surge in downloading RockeTalk because it has a dedicated applications store. Aircel is about to launch its own applications store. Vodafone too has an applications store but they have launched it in only two-three markets so we have the exact numbers for Vodafone. But RockeTalk is an application that can be used on a phone powered by any cellular service. Idea Service has realized that we are generating a lot of revenue for them so they have co-branded the application and now it is called Idea-RockeTalk. The colour theme is same as Idea.
Q. What are the revenue streams for RockeTalk? What are its strong and weak regions in India?
There are two revenue streams. One is a page on RockeTalk where there are links to sites like Hungama and Indiatimes. If our members go through our application to their content and furthermore to their paid content, like ringtones, a video, etc, then we get a share of the revenue earned. The second is mobile advertizing and that is still a section where we are testing waters.
The strongest regions are the Maharashtra and Gujarat belt. This is followed by UP and the surrounding Hindi belt. Delhi NCR region comes in third place. The weakest region has been the North-East states. We have been trying to identify reasons for this but we think it is primarily because of the limitation of data penetration because of the Government regulations.
Q. Could you name a few marketing initiatives that RockeTalk has undertaken? A large chunk of RockeTalk’s success has been viral but we have engaged BTL marketing often in the past. We have, in the past, gone to places where people gather traditionally. There we tried assessing their behavioral patterns and determined what people do with the data in their phones. And then we channelised communities around the findings. We are initiating beta groups in various demographics that will become larger sustainable groups over time.
Q. What are the revenue targets for 2010 financial year? How has the performance been in Q1 as compared to targets? We do not have revenue targets for 2010. We are not looking to make revenue at all this year. Our core focus is and will remain to get as many members as possible. We will make some revenue this year but that is going to be negligible. And as for the performance in Q1 in terms of the number of people added to our member-base the performance has exceeded expectations considerably. The trajectory has really taken off. This quarter we are adding more than 3 lakh users every month. We have already seen 20 per cent growth month on month. Although our target is 10-12 million by year end we know we will easily cross 15 million. And these are just Indian numbers.
Q. It has been 15 months since the launch of RockeTalk in India. How has the journey been so far? When did you start operations in India? When we started we were adding not more than 50 users a day. Now we have reached a point of adding ten to twelve thousand users each day. We have now totaled more than two million users of this application in India. It was a function of the coverage of the phones as well. Earlier there was a problem of catching up with the various GPRS enabled handsets that were available in the market. But now we have caught up and RockeTalk is supported on more than 500 different handset models. We are going to the US and launching our iPhone and Android applications as well. The largest chunk of our members is still in India and the next is in Indonesia.
Q. Where there any particular challenges that you faced when setting up shop in India? Were there any advantages as well regarding the Indian mobile market? Given the number of dialects and languages in India, it was always a challenge to use text services for mobile services. This has indeed turned out to be the biggest advantage because people have switched to using Rocketalk faster than we anticipated. The voice chat was the most compelling feature for the users. Mostly text messages are in English and in the tier-I cities everyone is ok typing in English. The greatest acceptability for RockeTalk came from Eastern UP, Bihar and Gujarat. This came as a revelation to us as well. What turned out to be a challenge for a typed chat has turned out to be an advantage for us. All the users of text messaging must be literate. But users of our application may be illiterate and still use it with ease. On the other hand, we faced a lot of challenges as well as initially there were a lot of phones in the market and almost all of them needed a different version of the application. Another big speed-bump that we faced was getting people aware about the access of data. People in the metros are up to par when it comes to mobile technology but going to semi-rural and rural places and a phone is primarily used for talking and nothing else. Thirdly, the cost of mobile internet was very high. Now it has comes down on the economies of scale and also because of the competition. When we started out the internet on mobiles was only available on postpaid connections. Now it is virtually available through all plans and all providers.
Q. Mobile social networking is a sphere that is yet to reach its full potential in a market like India. How do you perceive the next five years will be for RockeTalk? Our plans are very ambitious, though within the parameters of realism. Right now we are 2 million users in India. In the next 12 months it is expected to grow to 10 million. And we firmly believe we can get there, solely because it is not company driving growth but the current users inviting more users. The growth has been exponential and we are maintaining a 20 per cent growth rate. And it always helps a member to have as many people he knows on RockeTalk list. Another exceptional feature is that RockeTalk members can send voice and photo chats to people who are not on RockeTalk as messages and the receiver can then download it. Once we have reached this immediate goal then we can look at other destinations. There will be derivative applications and we are striving for that. We have already been asked to develop a location based application specifically for India, which is purely social in nature.
Q. What are the unique features that you have introduced with RockeTalk? All the features of RockeTalk are unique. The cellular voice chat feature, sending of photos and video clips are all unique to RockeTalk. There is absolutely no other application in the world like it. Users can also send song files (copyright protected) to others on RockeTalk. The community building is yet another unique feature of this application. And users have taken to communities with a storm. And these are unlike communities one sees on Orkut or Facebook. Every time someone adds a voice or a video clip all the members of the community get to know about it. Now, there are more than seventy thousand communities in India alone.
Q. Who are your competitors and what is your positioning against them and what is your USP? We do not have competitors anywhere in the world as we are one-of-a-kind application. But at the mind-space level there is competition as there is only going to be a limited number of applications one will download on his phone and we do compete with other applications to be one that is downloaded. Any company that has an application of a social media or social gaming kind is our direct competitors.
Q. What is your advertizing budget and what are the various media that you advertise with? We do not have a budget and we have not spent a dime on advertising. We haven’t engaged print, digital, TV, radio. What we have done is developed a team whose work is to identify websites and social platforms that have large number of members who might be interested in RockeTalk and plant the seed of RockeTalk and then the product and its features does all the talking. We already have access to data of mobile internet users so we are aware of websites they visit and the kind of info they share. Operators spend a lot on our marketing. Idea and Airtel have spent a lot on our marketing because our success invariably means their success.
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Apple to launch own search engine?
The tech giant is reportedly working on 'Pegasus,' which may bring Apple a new revenue stream
By e4m Staff | Oct 3, 2023 8:40 AM | 2 min read
Apple is creating its own search engine for its devices which may end its reliance on Google, according to the latest US media reports.
The internal name of the search engine is reportedly “Pegasus” which will be powered by generative AI tools to enhance it further. The company has not made any statement on this development so far.
Although Apple executive Eddy Cue has recently clarified that the firm doesn’t need to make its own search engine, the company had reportedly turned down an offer to buy Microsoft’s Bing in 2020.
Yet, the tech world is abuzz with speculations that Apple Inc. may bring its own search engine that could replace Google which dominates the market with nearly 90% share.
Apple has recently launched upgrades to its Spotlight search feature in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, which allows users to search for web results as well, going beyond documents, and app search. This has added fuel to the ongoing speculations.
Last year Apple launched Business Connect, a tool that helped strengthen its information database with details about businesses’ hours and locations in a way that could help it compete with Google.
Google has been the iPhone's default search engine for more than a decade. But the deal has come under the scanner of the US government as the latter dragged Google to the court alleging that the web giant reportedly pays Apple and other phone makers between $10 billion each year to maintain Google’s monopoly in search and online ads.
An Indian firm has recently launched "Veera" , a search engine for android mobile phones.
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How 2.5 million SMBs are fuelling Amazon India’s ad business
Thanks to the growth of SMBs over the past few years, advertising spends on e-comm platforms surpassed $1 billion in 2022 and is likely to expand faster than the whole digital advertising ecosystem
By Kanchan Srivastava | Oct 3, 2023 8:30 AM | 7 min read
It was June 2013, when Amazon, the world's largest e-commerce and cloud computing company, went live with its India marketplace. By 2016, the company had spent $5 billion to grow its e-commerce business in India. In January 2020, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos held ‘Amazon SMBhav’, a mega summit for SMBs (small and medium businesses) in India. At the summit, he said “I predict the 21st century will be the Indian century. This country has dynamism and energy and everywhere I go here, we see there is an improvement in growth. This country has something special.”
At the event, Bezos, who stepped down as CEO and became executive chairman in 2021, announced that he would invest $1 billion in digitizing SMBs in India. Bezos’ move turned out to be a boon as the pandemic struck soon after, prompting millions of SMBs and startups to join various ecommerce platforms in order to survive and grow amid lockdowns.
“Today, more than 2.5 million micro, small, and medium enterprises work with Amazon India, including sellers, artisans and weavers, delivery and logistics service people, and more,” Kapil Sharma, Director Advertiser Success at Amazon Ads India tells e4m with pride.
“Almost 30 years ago, Amazon was a small business founded on an entrepreneur’s vision and passion. While the company has grown over the years, Amazon has retained that same entrepreneurial spirit and has never lost sight of the importance of supporting SMBs,” Sharma further said, highlighting the significance of SMBs in the company’s growth in the world’s second largest consumer market after China.
The online retail giant has committed investments worth $6.5 billion in the country to date. Over the years, the company has also expanded its offerings in sectors like digital payments, music streaming, grocery delivery, video streaming, and education among others.
Sharma noted, “Amazon invests in the success of entrepreneurs, artisans, and small businesses selling in the Amazon Store. When they thrive, our customers benefit from the products and services they offer. That’s part of the reason Amazon has invested more than $30 billion globally in logistics, tools, services, programs and people to foster the growth of our sellers.”
In 2021, Amazon announced the $250 MM Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund to invest in tech startups. Over the last 24 months, Smbhav Venture Fund has made several investments, including companies like FreshtoHome, XYXX, Hopscotch, Fitterfly, Cashify, MyGlamm, M1xchange, and smallcase.
Amazon as an ad platform
There are about 700 million active internet users in the country. Of that, more than 200 million are shopping online, industry estimates say.
Thanks to the growth of SMBs over the past few years, the advertising spends on ecommerce platforms has also gone up significantly. It surpassed $1 billion in 2022 and is likely to expand faster than the whole digital advertising ecosystem in the coming years as more customers purchase online, industry leaders say.
Amazon India's advertisement revenue rose 63% to ₹4,170 crore in FY22. While the company doesn’t share the contribution of SMBs separately in its financial statements, it is believed that small and medium enterprises are driving the giant’s ad revenue.
Amazon India commands more than 8% of the overall online ad market, trailing Google India (Rs 24,000 Cr), and Facebook India (Rs 16,000 Cr).
Even the Walmart-backed Flipkart posted 50% year-on-year growth in ad revenue at ₹2,080 crore in FY22. The growth of Amazon and Flipkart Ads in India signals how ecommerce platforms are challenging the duopoly of Google and Meta who dominated India’s digital advertising ecosystem till a few years ago.
Both the e-tailers are yet to post their FY23 financial reports, but the duo is believed to have clocked higher ad revenues in FY23 compared to the previous year despite global economic headwinds.
“With Flipkart and Amazon operating their own data management programs, advertisers have a better-quality audience as it involves actual shopping behaviours and transactional data and hence a shift in spends is being observed towards ecommerce players,” digital head of a global agency said.
India’s ecommerce sector, which is currently valued over USD 100 billion, is expected to reach USD 350 billion by 2030, consultancy firm RedSeer said in its 2021 report. The government’s own estimate pegs it at US$ 350 billion by 2030. Clearly, etailers are set to gain further.
When asked about their ad growth in the Indian market in 2023, the Amazon Ad official merely said, “While we don’t provide country specific breakdowns of our advertising revenue, we continue to work hard all over the world, including in India, to help advertisers achieve their business goals.”
Making ad dollars stretch further
In the face of economic headwinds and stagnant consumption, advertisers, including SMBs, increasingly tighten their ad budgets and rather seek to stretch their ad dollars further. Amazon’s advertising wing-Amazon Ads-has worked hard on the measurement front to help brands understand the impact of their total investment, officials said.
“At Amazon Ads, we work to understand the biggest challenges SMBs are facing, using this insight to develop ad products and solutions to help them reach and engage millions of Amazon customers at every stage of their shopping journey,” Sharma explains.
From awareness and consideration to purchase, we offer self-service tools like Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products as well as Sponsored Display, which flex with customer intent to create useful shopping and discovery experiences, and help brands meet their goals, he noted.
The company runs a variety of webinars and workshops for SMBs to help educate them around their portfolio of ad solutions and give them guidance on how to get the best from their advertising investments. It also offers SMBs a range of advertising tools that are self-service and largely free.
Measurement is one of the advertising industry’s biggest challenges. Brands, especially SMBs, often struggle to understand how their multi-channel touchpoints impact their marketing investments. How is Amazon Ads working to help solve those issues?
“Amazon Ads is continually working to innovate with solutions that help advertisers to find more efficiencies and better insights. With Amazon’s Brand Lift studies, for example, we can help Amazon DSP advertisers quantify how their Amazon Ads campaigns are driving marketing objectives such as awareness, purchase intent and ad recall,” the spokesperson said.
Sharma underscored that the relevance of ads cannot be underestimated. “One way that advertisers are reaching their audiences in a meaningful way is by combining their first-party brand insights with first-party insights provided by marketplaces. Combining those two sets of insights is key in trying to make sure that audiences are seeing ads that are relevant and feel authentic to their shopping experiences”, he noted.
On average, brands that reach audiences based on Amazon’s first-party behavioral and demographic signals resulted in a 38% increase in consideration compared to demographics alone, the spokesperson claimed.
New ad formats
Apart from its DSP and its partnerships with third-party publishers, Fire TV and Alexa that enable advertisers to amplify their message, the e-tailer has also rolled out an innovative ad solution “on-box” in the Indian market.
The on-box advertising campaign involves converting delivery boxes into branded packaging with an experiential component to engage customers.
According to Sharma, the company has received positive response from its advertisers to these offerings.
Indian exporters on the Amazon Global Selling program are on track to cross $8 billion in cumulative e-commerce exports by the end of 2023. Notwithstanding, the company has pledged to digitize 10 million SMBs, enable $20 billion in e-commerce exports, and create 2 million jobs in India by 2025.
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Programmatic woes: Is unified data platform the solution?
Unified systems and platforms can bring together various tools and data sources to reduce complexity and prepare for the future, say industry players
By Shantanu David | Oct 2, 2023 8:06 AM | 7 min read
Data is the new oil has become a rather old saying at this point. But the fact is that as data sources continue to multiply, managing the complexity becomes a significant challenge. This is why some marketers are now questioning if a theoretical unified system can simplify the data ecosystem and reduce the complexity of managing multiple disparate tools, like DMPs (Data Management Platforms), CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) and CRMs (Customer Relationship Management).
This is because working with disparate tools and platforms can lead to inefficiencies, as data needs to be moved and transformed between them. A unified system can streamline data workflows, reducing the time and effort required to access and analyze data.
For Ramya Parashar, COO, MiQ, the foundational aspects of data quality, consistency, governance and security are critical for accurate analysis and decision-making. Having a centralized control over data access, permissions, and auditing, enhancing security and compliance is paramount.
“There is no doubt about a growing need for unified systems and platforms that can bring together various tools and data sources to reduce complexity and prepare for the future. As companies assess their specific needs, looking at existing infrastructure and data maturity before embarking on such a project is key,” she says.
Gopa Menon, Head of Digital – Mindshare South Asia, agrees that there is a growing need for unified systems that can bring together various data tools and platforms into a single cohesive ecosystem. “As data volumes continue to increase, organizations are faced with a number of challenges like data silos hindering data accessibility and sharing. Data consistency is also an issue if data is being accessed through various tools. And as we progress scalability and real time insights because of different data tools will also be a challenge.”
According to Menon, a unified system, often referred to as a Data Integration Platform or DataOps platform, can address these challenges by providing a centralized hub for data management, integration, analysis, and reporting. And indeed, even without a universal system in place yet, industry experts are looking at more accessible solutions in the interim.
Brands are increasingly embracing the concept of creating a unified data repository, whether, in the form of a data warehouse or a data lake, which consolidates all their data sources, including behavioral and transactional data. This approach is gaining traction as brands recognize the advantages of having a comprehensive data ecosystem. These consolidated data lakes serve as the cornerstone of data-driven decision-making, offering a singular source of truth for analysis. This strategy eliminates the complexities of managing multiple data silos.
Abhimanyu Vyas, Business Head of the MarTech arm of Havas, PivotConsult, says many are opting to build their own data lakes using cloud-based solutions like Data Databricks or Snowflake. “By doing so, brands streamline their data management processes, reducing reliance on disparate systems such as CRMs for transactional data, Analytics and DMP solutions for behavioral data, and CEM for user journey data.”
“In our work with clients in the BFSI (Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance) and QSR (Quick-Service Restaurant) sectors, we're actively involved in building and leveraging central data lakes. These data lakes play a pivotal role in various aspects, including measurement and reporting, advanced analytics, and the deployment of machine learning use cases,” he says.
“While some aspects of this approach are already in practice, they are not uniformly implemented across all channels,” says Paras Mehta, Business Head, Matterkind India, adding, “At IPG, we've recognized the significance of bridging this gap. Collaborating with our data experts at Acxiom and drawing upon the knowledge of various Adtech, Martech, and Analytics tools, we are actively educating our clients on the importance of adopting an integrated approach. We firmly believe that, with ongoing technological advancements, we are moving closer to the development of a unified solution that will empower our clients to make more informed marketing decisions."
Cost of Unity
In a world dominated by existing systems like CRMs, CDPs, and increasingly DMPs, Preetham Venkky, Chief Digital Officer at DDB Mudra Group, agrees that a unified data system is theoretically a good idea, but is chary about the practicality and mechanics of such a system; and perhaps most crucially, the cost.
“The thing is that, at its core, everyone is anchoring towards CDP, because that's the core engine where the customer data essentially sits. After that, there are multiple layers. There's obviously a data lake which sits beside it and where you're storing the CDP, which is the primary data point for you to essentially pick and pull the data set. And then you come to actionability. CRM is an actionability platform. But most people look at it as the maturity of the company. If the company is in the early maturity stage, then usually you will go with just a CRM platform, that's all you have to budget for. If you're in the mid majority stage, you will go for a DMP. And if you're at an extremely mature stage, we'll move to CDP. So, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution,” he says.
“Are all of the platforms useful and does it make sense to have one? The answer to that is yes. Should we integrate all the three into one? The answer to that is no. Largely because of cost infrastructure and capability infrastructure. CDP's capabilities are extremely wide, while CRM is used only very specifically,” he says, before elaborating.
For instance, MailChimp is a CRM platform. You can run a MailChimp platform for as low as $50 a month. So obviously, if you're an early startup, that's sufficient that's all you can afford. “But if I went directly for a CDP with Salesforce, the starting cost is about $10,000 a month. Clearly a startup can't afford it. So that's why from a capability as well as from just an economic standpoint, it makes sense to have all of the three because it's like having basic Windows Word versus one with all the features. So I don't think they're going to go away.”
Interestingly, Parashar has a different take on the price factor, noting, “As data volumes grow, the scalability of data infrastructure becomes essential along with managing multiple tools and platforms, which can be expensive in terms of licensing, maintenance, and infrastructure. Consolidating these tools into a unified system not only provides cost savings but also opportunities to optimize.”
That being said, she agrees that we also need to be wary of data integration, compatibility, and user adoption challenges that may arise during the implementation of a unified system. “We look at a hybrid approach, where we integrate and centralize certain critical data and processes while allowing flexibility for specialized tools and platforms to coexist. Ultimately, the goal is to strike a balance between unifying data operations and accommodating the diverse needs of different teams and functions within our organization,” she says.
“It's important to note that implementing a unified data system can be a complex undertaking, and organizations should carefully consider their specific needs, existing infrastructure, and budget constraints,” observes Menon, adding, “Data integration and migration can be challenging, so a well-thought-out strategy and proper planning are crucial for success. In summary, as data volumes and complexity continue to grow, the need for unified data systems is becoming increasingly important to streamline data management, improve efficiency, and enable data-driven decision-making across organizations.”
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Court restrains rogue websites from streaming ICC Cricket World Cup
The court reportedly issued the order in response to a plea by Star India Pvt Ltd and Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt Ltd, which operates Disney+ Hotstar
By e4m Staff | Sep 29, 2023 3:07 PM | 2 min read
The Delhi High Court has restrained online platforms from unauthorisedly streaming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, to be held from October 5 to November 19, according to media report.
The court reportedly issued the order in response to a plea by Star India Pvt Ltd and Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt Ltd, which operates Disney+ Hotstar platform.
In the plea, the petitioners are reported to have claimed that they have the exclusive global media rights for the world cup, but, the tournament being one of the most popular sporting events in the world, a large number of websites were likely to indulge in unauthorised dissemination of the content.
Announcing the order, the court, according to a media report, said, that undoubtedly the World Cup cricket matches were "extremely popular, especially in the Indian subcontinent" and rogue websites, which in the past have also indulged in piracy, were very likely to continue the authorised streaming.
"Thus, there is a need to restrain any rogue websites from disseminating and communicating to the public any part of the cricket match events without authorisation or license from the plaintiffs," the court said in a recent order.
"Accordingly, defendant Nos.1 to 9 (various rogue websites which are stated to be primarily hosting illegal and pirated content) are restrained by an ad-interim order from communicating, screening, making available or disseminating any part of the ICC World Cup Cricket matches on any electronic or digital platform in any manner whatsoever," ordered the court.
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e4m-Samsung Ads CTV Roundtable: Industry heads discuss leveraging the power of screen
The e4m-Samsung Ads CTV Roundtable saw industry experts deliberate on the increasing CTV viewership, India’s share in streaming content and more
By e4m Staff | Sep 29, 2023 2:08 PM | 6 min read
Maximising TV budgets and preparing for a larger addressable CTV universe has become critical for advertisers in today’s era. According to Statista, as of 2022, the number of households in India that owned connected TV sets amounted to 25 million. This figure was estimated to almost double by 2025. The viewership of CTV was found to have increased by over 30 per cent between 2021 and 2022.
To dwell more on the booming CTV landscape, a set of industry experts discussed how to leverage the ‘power of screen’, at e4m-Samsung Ads CTV Roundtable in Gurugram on Wednesday.
The speakers included Anupam Tripathi, Media Head, Lenskart; Anusha Srinivasan, Digital Media Activations Manager, Reckitt Health, Reckitt India; Archana Aggarwal, VP – Media, Airtel; Bhawna Sikka, Category Head; Oral Health Care, Haleon; Kunal Dhrangadharia, Global Brand Lead, Royal Enfield; Monika Mishra, Director – Marketing, Mobikwik; Sahil Rawal, Vice President - Brand Product Platforms Marketing, Max Life Insurance; Samir Sethi, VP and Head of Brand Marketing, Policybazaar.com and Syed Sibtain Imam, Media Head, Honasa Consumer Ltd (Mamaearth).
The discussion was moderated by Prabhvir Sahmey, Senior Director, Samsung Ads while Abbhishek Chadha, Executive Vice President, North & East, Interactive Avenues was the co-moderator.
Sahmey kickstarted the discussion with a presentation, where he highlighted that connected TV essentially started selling in India around 2017. Before this period, most televisions were not entirely internet-enabled. In 2022, India saw nearly 25 million monthly active CTV users. “Of all TVs that we see, about 80% of them are connected to the internet on a daily basis, we estimate this number to be around 40 million and expect it to be much higher by the time it is 2025,” Sahmey shared.
He also mentioned that a significant portion of Samsung TVs are spending time watching streaming content. In this regard, he said, “India is the only market where streaming content is the largest. US & Europe markets are just playing catch up.”
Consumer journey has seen its set of shifts pre, during and post Covid. Chadha addressed the same and posed to the experts that in this regard, how should CTV as a medium be evaluated.
Dhrangadharia chimed in here and mentioned that as an emerging media, it definitely is an avenue that one can explore. “But right now how things are structured is that we ask for a structure, a brief is floated on that basis and then a plan is given back to us with certain measurables in place,” he said.
He further highlighted that if the objective is to drive awareness, and if there is a certain audience that the brand is able to take care of on the basis of this medium, it needs to come automatically from the agency’s side that ‘this is the preferred medium’. “If that initial conviction is not there, as a brand I would not give a lot of organic precedence to this media,” Dhrangadharia added.
Speaking of what has happened in the past two - three years, Sikka shared that while CTV can be considered under digital, what it does within digital has evolved. “Now when you are looking at media, you are looking at a more integrated approach. When it comes to efficiencies for a mass plan, it will still be TV because it gives me the kind of reach it does. TV from an efficiency perspective would still remain dominant,” she said.
However, Sikka added, when it comes to effectiveness, CTV can come into play.
Mishra said that for a brand like MobiKwik, the view through rate is way more on a CTV than on any OTT platform or YouTube. “This may be because there is inertia in getting up and pressing the skip ad button. It is too early for us to say that it has worked for us, but that is one help that CTV has done for us. At Least for the last two campaigns, where we had planned for CTV, the VTR has been to tune of 98%,” she mentioned.
Aggarwal believes that for an emerging media like CTV, it is just a matter of getting enough scale. “Right now it is very fragmented in terms of everybody selling it separately and what is included in CTV, there is a lot of grey area on that part. That bit of clarity within the segment is also very critical,” she said.
Chadha pointed out that when one looks at the aspect of measurable business impact, that is where CTV would get a seat at the table. “Whether we have a sizable scale to measure the business impact, that is the question,” he said.
Rawal added that from a life insurance perspective, there are two ways to look at the CTV medium – branding and performance. At Max Life Insurance, he shared, the conversations have mostly been around allocating spends to branding. “TV is something that is definite and gives you a large reach. But eventually there is something called a CTV, which will have a bigger screen and immersive audience and also something that we can measure,” he said.
Tripathi pointed out that the reason why the view through rates are higher on CTV is the same reason why the clicks are lower. “So for us, it comes 100% under branding,” he mentioned. Speaking of challenges, Tripathi shared that while brand awareness is of importance to Lenskart, consideration and purchase intent are also very critical. And for that just being present with FCT or ad or CPMs doesn’t really help.
He also highlighted that the success of CTVs largely depends on the success of OTT platforms. “A majority of the programs shot today are being produced for TV. So the control of the OTT players to give you integration and hardcore brand value positioned in the content is very limited,” Tripathi said.
Sahmey feels that over the next 5 years, there will be a clear demarcation between what is being watched on mobile and what is being watched on TV. “CTV CPMs will be much higher than current linear CPMs that we are seeing today, because on CTV you can know exactly how many people watched that program. You have actual metrics which can be validated by any third party platform,” he said.
Imam highlighted that another challenge is consolidation. “If I have to make a CTV plan, wherein the objective is to reach 60-70 million audience, I have to plan YouTube separately, I will have to have a Sony LIV or a Hotstar or a Samsung TV. So if there is a way in which I can do a unified planning, that can help,” he mentioned.
Sethi acknowledged the discussions around how to best measure the effectiveness CTV advertising spends and how the various brands as well as the Samsung team shared what they have been seeing on this front. “I really hope measurability becomes a lot tighter in this space,” he mentioned.
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‘Made for Ad’ sites gobbling up big chunk of digital ad spends: Is there a way out?
These sites generate a whopping 21 percent of ad impressions and take away 15 percent ($13 billion) of digital ad spend of the Open Web Programmatic, which is a $88 billion global market
By Kanchan Srivastava | Sep 29, 2023 8:42 AM | 3 min read
Ad industry’s most influential trade organizations have come together to spell out new definitions for ‘made for advertising’ websites, which are designed solely to attract an influx of ad dollars and gobble up a significant portion of digital ad spends.
The consortium, which includes the Association of National Advertisers (ANA, US), the World Federation of Advertisers and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, this week released a detailed definition of “Made for Advertising” websites which lack organic audience and are instead highly dependent on visits sourced from clickbait ads that run on social networks and websites of reputable publishers.
These sites generate a whopping 21 percent of ad impressions and gobble up 15 percent ($13 billion) of digital ad spend of the Open Web Programmatic which is a $88 billion global market, the ANA said in a report released early this year. The report blamed data gaps, lack of ad viewability and a huge number of publishers (44,000 websites, mostly created for ads) for the massive ad-waste.
The move has come at a time when marketers are increasingly facing pressure to justify their ad spending, reduce wastage and deliver ROI.
“Advertisers are often not in control of their media placement decisions as much as they should be,” says an Indian CMO, adding that programmatic players should weed out such publishers.
While Google commands a significant portion of programmatic advertising, marketers are increasingly allocating more budgets for Open Web programmatic advertising to reduce their dependence on Google.
According to a densu report, programmatic contributes 42% of digital ad spends in India which corresponds to Rs 12,000 Cr.
MFA sites impact ad rates: Indian Publishers
Indian marketers expressed concerns over the extent to which MFA sites have grown and impacting their ad dollars.
Such websites affect genuine publishers as well, industry players say. “Excess supply of inventory created through such websites impacts ad rates. In India digital ad rates have either remained static or have declined since 1995. The same is not true for US and other markets,” says Pradeep Gairola, Digital Head of The Hindu.
Abhishek Karnani, Vice President of International Advertising Association (India chapter) and Director, The Free Press Journal Group of Newspapers, echoes the sentiments. “It is surely a cause of concern as it eats into the genuine publishers’ share in ad revenue. I am glad that the issue is coming to the forefront and being discussed,” says Karnani.
He added that Google is making its robot and crawlers smarter to wean these types of websites by regularly posting updates on the algorithm.
How to spot MFAs
As per trade organizations, MFA sites usually exhibit a combination of the following five characteristics:
- High ad-to-content ratio (Up to 30%)
- Rapidly auto-refreshing banner ads, autoplay video ads, slide shows forcing visitors to click through multiple ads to access content
- High percentage of paid traffic sourcing
- Generic low-quality content, often syndicated, dated and non-unique
- Poorly designed sites
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TRAI releases consultation paper on rating framework for digital connectivity in buildings
Comments from stakeholders invited by November10, 2023
By e4m Staff | Sep 28, 2023 6:34 PM | 2 min read
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on ‘Regulation on Rating Framework for Digital Connectivity in Buildings or Areas’. The comments on the issues raised in the consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by November10, 2023 and counter-comments, if any by November 24, 2023.
According to the authority, digital connectivity has become an integral part of personal, professional, and social life. The exponential growth in digitalization of services and manufacturing sectors has revolutionized the world, impacting everything, from economy, innovation, science, and education, to health, sustainability, governance, and lifestyle.
“The demand for digital connectivity has increased many folds in the recent years. The crucial role of digital connectivity has been acknowledged pandemic, witnessing a surge in the demand across all segments of users, irrespective of their locations,” stated TRAI.
The authority further stated that the TRAI has been monitoring the quality of service of telecom services across the country by conducting detailed studies and issuing suitable directions to the stakeholders, to improve the quality of service. While there have been significant improvements in coverage of telecom services on the street, there are still gaps observed in meeting the perceived quality of service demands of the users, especially inside the buildings, residential or commercial areas.
In an official release, TRAI said, “The quality of telecommunication services inside the buildings is an integral part of protection of the consumer interest. TRAI has already taken various policy initiatives including the Recommendation dated February20, 2023 on "Rating of Buildings or Areas for Digital Connectivity". These recommendations provide for introduction of Rating of Buildings framework to ensure good digital connectivity experience to the consumers through a collaborative and self-sustainable approach.”
The Consultation Paper on "Regulation on Rating Framework for Digital Connectivity in Buildings or Areas" is released to deliberate on regulation for implementation of rating framework for buildings and areas for digital connectivity to improve QoS inside buildings and for seamless consumer experience.
TRAI said that the paper highlights the need for Rating of Buildings or Areas for Digital Connectivity that meets not only the current expectations of the consumers but is also ready for future expansion or upgradation with the advancement of technologies or change in users' demand. This CP also discusses the benefits of the rating framework to the end-users, service providers and to the ecosystem.
“The consultation paper describes overview of the 'Rating framework for Digital Connectivity' based on the practices being followed internationally and rating frameworks like GRIHAor Credit Rating in India,” reads the official statement.
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