Screenage 2021: 'Mobile app advertising is on a growth path, but challenges persist'
Native advertising has not picked up due to the lack of the right kind of inventory & format, said Ahtesham Ali, NDTV and Tanushree Radhakrishnan, GroupM, in a fireside chat with Amit Yadav PubMatic
Mobile app advertising is still seeing a surge due to growth in consumption. Programmatic advertising on mobile has picked up significantly post the pandemic. However, programmatic advertising on digital news has its own set of challenges.
These are the key highlights of the fireside chat session titled ‘The New Frontier for Mobile App’ at exchange4media's mobile marketing conference Screenage 2021. The session had Ahtesham Ali - Vice President - Monetisation, Operations & Programmatic business, NDTV and Tanushree Radhakrishnan - Head Biddable, GroupM, while it was chaired by Amit Yadav - Country Manager, South Asia, PubMatic.
Tanushree Radhakrishnan noted that pandemic has done to digital what no CDO or CTO could do. She also said programmatic advertising traditionally followed the waterfall model of buying, in which developers typically request for bid sequentially from a hierarchy of networks. This model, she noted, lacked transparency, and it would often result in the lower price for publishers.
“In a web environment, we have auctions, header bidding, but apps still do not have that level of technical advancements. While we are using a variety of terms and processes in terms of bidding and app bidding, there is still a long way for us to go out there. It has faded in importance on the web front, mobile because of the technological challenges that exist whether it's around reconciling SDK and stuff, I think till the time we are not able to attribute each one of them individually until such time we will have to continue looking at it,” she stated.
Ahtesham Ali said that NDTV's app business is growing as the spends are increasing. He also said that programmatic advertising on news hasn't picked up that due to brand safety concerns. “While spends are happening on our app, but we haven't that kind of upliftment on programmatic from a news genre standpoint. Advertisers are cautious about what content they are present on. This has emerged as a big issue for advertisers. They don't want to associate with any content which is negative. Many advertisers are also treating Covid-19 news as negative news, that is also a challenge,” he added.
He also said that there has been growth in programmatic ads on the NDTV app, but that growth isn't that great. The platform is still figuring out which technology to invest on. It is working on header bidding with PubMatic.
Taking the brand safety point forward, Tanushree noted that the advertisers are worried about the quality of news content on which an ad is being played. “The fact remains that how do you instill that confidence among them in terms of what can be done. As long as we have sufficient hygiene as far as brand safety is concerned, viewability, ad frauds, etc I think if we are implementing those third-party measurements and blocking partners in place then this will not be a problem,” she noted.
According to her, the key is to have a mix of contextual and measurement partners that can supplement the DSPs with specific options. “That will give us the right ads at the right point of time. It will also be beneficial for client as they will get better ROIs,” she stated.
In terms of ad formats, she said that video is growing rapidly since people are spending a lot of time watching online videos. Video ad formats across 6-seconds, 10-seconds, and long formats have seen good growth. Native advertising is the only area that has not picked up due to the lack of the right kind of inventory and format.
“We are seeing a lot of growth in programmatic advertising there. It's way more than what we had anticipated initially. We have also seen a surge in contextual in-app advertising because we are in an era where we are not just able to look at third-party tracking in a cookieless world, I think the first-party data will become way more important now. Native has not picked upscale in India yet. That is one area where we want to see interesting content come into play,” she informed.
The conversation moved to privacy and first-party data. Tanushree noted that the agency has started working on first-party data. She also said choice-based marketing is the way to go. “When the duopoly moves into such a place, the markets will kind of cope. We will find ways around it to deliver on it. It will be similar to what we are working on cookie deprecation front,” she said on being asked about the likely impact if Google and Facebook replicate Apple's privacy measure which allows users to opt out of apps that track users across the web.
On challenges in in-app advertising, Ahtesham said that the biggest challenge is to build a good data point for an advertiser to come and buy. “There are limitations in-app in terms of how you pass on the data and stuff. We are also dependent on Google and Apple's of the world. Opt-in and opt-out are easy on web, but it is not that easy on app because users are not that aware.”
Tanushree believes that the real potential of app advertising will get unlocked when apps can be overlaid with different identifiers be it location, context because that's when AI-based model will begin to work.
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