'India is a breeding ground for players & opportunities in the in-app advertising space'

At e4m Xaxis Programmatic Summit, the panel shared their views on how programmatic can help brands adapt new modes of targeting & measurement in cookie-less world

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 24, 2021 9:57 AM  | 6 min read

The first edition of the e4m Programmatic Summit, held virtually on December 17, was a day of engaging, illuminating discussions and addresses by industry leaders, brand creators, marketing professionals and the entire spectrum of digital marketing within India, and beyond.

The e4m-Xaxis Report 2022 was released on the same day with an aim to help navigate the advertisers and digital agencies with technological insights, data-driven innovative strategies, and trends in the ever-evolving market. Given the explosion of digital marketing and its universe of applications, it has become necessary to keep a track of the constant evolution of this ecosystem and that’s precisely what the report intends to do.

With a majority of ad spends going in for mobile-first strategies and in-app marketing, programmatic enables a very secure and efficient delivery medium for brands, even as consumers seek more privacy and greater internet freedom.

The panel discussion on 'In-app marketing strategies for a cookie-less world' saw a diverse group of industry leaders gather to discuss the impact of some of these developments for all stakeholders involved. The session was chaired by Niraj Ruparel, Head of Mobile & Emerging Tech, GroupM, and featured Sachin Vashishtha, Director and Head of Digital Marketing, Paisabazaar; Saurabh Saini, Head, Digital Marketing & Communications, Havells India; Jayesh Ullattil, VP and GM - India, InMobi; and Charu Malhotra Bhatia, Vice President & Head of Marketing, Brilloca Limited.

Ruparel expressed his enthusiasm for the summit noting how the discussions there also had the advantage of finding potential solutions to challenges within the conversations the panellists had before the session itself.

Highlighting the importance of app marketing within the country, Ruparel said “I recently read a report that noted about 14% of the entire planet’s app downloads are in India, which makes it a very powerful eco-system for digital marketers, second only to China. And so, India is a breeding ground for all sorts of players and opportunities in the in-app advertising space.”

He pointed out that the pandemic has only accelerated the process of digitization and now even people who would never earlier have done any kind of commerce on their phone were using a variety of apps, from fitness to finance. Ruparel said as people looked for more hyper-personalisation as well as data protection, this new ‘ID-less world’ would be using a lot of emerging techs and tools to collect first party data so that brands could securely and directly collect data about their customers’ needs and preferences without involving any outside party.  

Vashishtha acknowledged that for many brands and advertisers, the cookie-less concept was a major challenge because of an over-reliance on third parties to collate and parse consumer data and choices. He said, “We’ve been relying mostly on first-party data from the very beginning. The first thing was to build a data deck, which we did a couple of years ago, and that could acquire data directly from consumers and so we could enrich the quality of data we were getting over time. The second thing is that advertisers are especially dependent on third party data collectors because they provide contextual data in real-time. So, that can become an issue in first-party data collection as there isn’t a direct way to compare users and market demands. We addressed this by building a propensity model and we use it to figure out a consumer’s most likely future needs based on their purchasing history and requirements. These are a couple of systems we’ve invested in and are getting good results.”

Bhatia agreed that the need for such systems was relevant, and even though most advertisers today are dependent on third-party data collectors, the future was indeed a cookie-less world. She said, “We’ve been using programmatic for both first-party and third-party data, but we’ve decided to focus more on first-party and figure out how we can optimize it and leverage it to grow our consumer insights. This will help us with contextual advertising and further help us personalise content for our customers.”

Addressing the 'sunset of the cookie world' and the challenges that lie ahead, Saini said that marketers have always used an arsenal of tools and systems to collect used data, and first and third party are just two among them, having become ubiquitous across the marketing world. He opined, “First-party is going to become increasingly crucial for every kind of brand, and not just because the world is going more cookie-less over time. Brands like ours (Havells India) have dozens of different categories and we need to know as much as possible about our customers because there are different locations, different market requirements, different seasonalities, and first-party thar help us get personalised information so that we can target them according to their needs, whether it’s buying new appliances or renovating electrical fittings and so much more. And basically once we find that data set out, we can multiply that by 50 and get a greater understanding of the market without having to go to third party vendors.”

Noting that in the last few years, almost 97% of first-time internet users in India access it through their smartphones, making India a mobile-first market for internet usage and digital marketing, Ullattil of InMobi also referred to statistics that say almost 80-85% of the time people spend online on their phone is on apps. He said that as mobile devices and software move towards ID-less and cookie-less systems, the utility of data collected from third parties by advertisers will become very limited, whether it’s in volume, attributions, frequencies and so many other factors, and that is why it was important for brands to develop their first-party data acquisition for the near future, by around 2025, when most systems would dispense with cookie collecting.

“Various companies, brands, marketers are at different stages of evolution of their party-data collection. Brands that have users who are primarily digital natives have a lot more data sets sitting with them, whereas for many FMCG companies that journey has only recently begun, because that data didn’t have much significance. Now it does. So that’s why companies across the board are going to be looking at building their Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) systems to have access to their customers’ data in the future,” concluded Ullattil.

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