India will see hockey stick growth in programmatic: CDO, Mindshare South Asia

Vinod Thadani, Chief Digital Officer, Mindshare South Asia, talks to exchange4media on all the digital hot topics: programmatic, blockchain, data privacy and more

by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Published - May 1, 2018 8:58 AM Updated: May 1, 2018 8:58 AM

The ever-evolving and growing world of digital marketing is posing as many opportunities as challenges to marketers and media buyers alike. exchange4media caught up with Vinod Thadani, Chief Digital Officer, Mindshare South Asia, for a quick chat on all the new digital buzzwords and developments that may impact digital marketing.

Thadani said that while blockchain is surely the new buzzword in town, he has hardly come across any solutions that address the complete marketing chain. About the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation that is all set to come into effect from May 25, 2018, in Europe, he said it will have very little or no implications on digital marketers in India.

Thadani who has been meeting with the Facebook team post the recent Data Breach Scandal said that Mindshare has been working with clients to understand the issues and find solutions. “In the past, when Mindshare and its clients have been faced with issues of brand safety or viewability etc. it has worked with the publishers and clients to improve processes,” he said.

Here's what he had to say:

On Brand Safety, Viewability, Data Privacy, etc: With each of these incidents, Mindshare worked to understand and address these issues. For example, in the case of brand safety, we had come up with a negative keyword list and decided that out of some 10,000 odd sites, we would advertise only on a select 100 brand-safe sites. As an agency, we are always prepared for situations like these and work with all our stakeholders to find a solution.

These issues have always been there. They are more visible now because digital has become more measurable.

Using Third-Party Data: People get scared of the “data” word. No matter which portal you approach, be that a social media site, e-commerce site or a grocery app, everyone is very cautious about how their first-party data is used.

With the ban on third-party data partners, I may not be able to do the targeting on Facebook that I could earlier. That’s because Facebook is still evolving and developing the platform.

That said, there are other ways and means to target better. For example, I can do everything that I can do on Facebook using programmatic advertising.

Betting big on programmatic: We are hand-holding clients and educating them to actually see the advantages of why programmatic set-up is better than the impression-buy set-up. We are moving from going after impressions to the audience, which is always better. We are also presenting to the client proof that when it comes to costs, programmatic is much better value-wise. We run pilot campaigns to show clients how and why programmatic is better.

Our evolved clients have understood that programmatic is the way forward. India is at such stage that programmatic will not see a linear growth in investments; it will be hockey stick growth. Today if the investment in programmatic is 7-10 per cent, in the next couple of years this could leapfrog all the way to 50 per cent and soon even 90 per cent.

On blockchain: Blockchain is surely the new buzzword. It is being discussed in boardrooms. But I don’t see any immediate effect on advertising. Blockchain will bring in the transparency of course, but currently, we already work on the open disclose model on programmatic. So if an advertiser wants to run a campaign on the disclosed model he knows exactly what the licensing fee, media, ad tech and resource cost. Blockchain can improve this, but we are yet to see the effect of blockchain in India for the end-to-end operation.

There are some companies that are experts in say targeting or understanding audience clusters, but there is no one covering the complete chain from impression to sale.

Technology firms, a threat? Going back to traditional days, I am sure if a client recruited a TV planner to run a campaign, they could have done it themselves. The idea of having an agency partner is that we have the ability to use ad:tech properly, we cannot just execute a media plan but also know the science behind the plan, we also understand the current eco-system and deliver the right objectives set by the client. These are all the ways in which agencies add value to the client. If I was just an execution arm for the client, I could be replaced. But if I am a partner who understands their business and answers their business objectives, I cannot be replaced.

That said, we partner with most ad:tech companies. Partnering with them adds on to what we deliver to our clients.

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