Meta Turbulence: How India went from key focus market to leadership layoffs

Experts speculate that though Meta India clocked good earnings in FY22, it is quite possible that its FY23 ad revenues won't be as good

e4m by Kanchan Srivastava
Published: Jun 1, 2023 8:38 AM  | 7 min read

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is ''all in'' on India and the country is a “lighthouse” for Meta and at the “forefront” of innovation in areas such as Reels, business messaging and the WhatsApp JioMart partnership, said Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President, Global Business Group at Meta in an interview to a business publication in September 2022. 

Cut to 2023, the tech giant hands over pink slips to a bunch of India staff including top executives like India’s director of marketing Avinash Pant, director and head of media partnerships Saket Jha Sourabh and director of legal Amrita Mukherjee. This was reportedly the third round of layoffs at the company. Besides the latest round of layoffs, Meta India, over the past few months, has also witnessed some high-profile exits. Last year in November, Meta’s India head Ajit Mohan quit the company and joined rival Snap Inc as APAC President. Six months prior to that, Sandeep Bhushan, who was the Head of Global Marketing Solutions at Meta, called it quits. 

So, what is plaguing Meta India?

The latest layoffs are part of the company’s larger restructuring plan announced in March to eliminate 10,000 roles globally amid economic headwinds. While the number of total India staff and number of sacked employees in India is not immediately clear, it is believed that nearly three dozen people have lost their jobs suddenly. Some of them shared their layoff experience on LinkedIn as well which raises a serious question mark over the company’s Human Resource policy. 

The India development is part of Meta’s fresh round of layoffs that was set to impact about 6,000 employees globally. These job cuts were part of the company’s so-called “Year of Efficiency” in which Meta is being restructured to cut costs. 

The series of exits and layoffs at the tech giant’s India arm have shocked the entire media industry, especially since India is a very fast growing market and likely to be that for a few years. 

Meta India accumulated huge profits and ad revenues in FY22 in the country. Facebook India online services, the flagship registered entity for Meta in India, clocked gross ad revenues of Rs 16,189 crore in fiscal year 2021-22, a 74% year-on-year growth as per the latest regulatory filings by the company. The company's net profit grew by 132% year on year to Rs 297 crore during the same period. In contrast, Meta’s global revenue growth has almost stagnated over the past few quarters, ranging from 2-6 percent, necessitating the global layoffs. 

“Firing its senior-most staff from one of the most profitable markets raises a serious question over the long-term strategy of Meta which professes India to be a key market,” a senior industry analyst pointed out. 

India most important market: Meta officials said three weeks ago 

Interestingly, Arun Srinivas, Director & Head of the Ads Business of the US-based tech giant, told e4m on May 10 this year, “India is our largest user base across all three Meta plaftorms-Instagram, FaceBook and Whatsapp- and Reels feature has grown significantly since it was launched three years ago and now it is the fastest growing segment for Meta India.”

Facebook's user base in the country touched 440 million in FY22.

Meta Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had been calling India his “most important market” since his maiden town hall at IIT Delhi in 2015. Just a month before this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his trip to the United States in 2015, visited Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters in California.

Zuckerberg had set his sights firmly on India, a market that had illustrated a tremendous appetite for his offerings. Even in December 2020, during a fireside chat with Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Zuckerberg stated that India was a “very special and important country” with a remarkable entrepreneurship culture, as he sought to push deeper the just-launched payments services that allow users to make payments over WhatsApp.

“Facebook opened its first office in Hyderabad in 2010. From 2010 till Ajit Mohan’s departure in 2022, India used to be largely a sales office for Meta. With top level layoffs, it seems the company has gone back to being mere a sales office again,” analysts wonder. 

Impact on multiple ecosystems? 

Trimming of the workforce impacts innovation and growth. It also serves as a reminder of the human impact of layoffs and the long term strategy of the company for that particular region.

A tech expert said, “Such a crisis dashes the chances of Meta’s future investments in India, especially the content and curator ecosystems.”

Global phenomenon 

Dwindling ad dollars and declining growth in the post-pandemic world globally has forced many tech companies to trim their workforce. In 2023 alone, layoffs have cost tens of thousands of tech workers their jobs. The workforce reductions have been driven by the giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, Meta and Zoom. Startups, too, have announced cuts across all sectors, from crypto to enterprise SaaS. 

Most of these companies cite similar reasoning to justify the layoffs; such as “macroeconomic environment and a need to find discipline on a tumultuous path to profitability.”

Experts speculate that it is quite possible that despite earning huge profits and ad revenue in FY22, Meta India’s ad revenues are not as good in FY23 which turned out to be particularly bad for most platforms. The company has not filed its financial report for FY23 at the Registrar of Companies yet. 

Karan Taurani of analyst firm Elara Capital says, “The Meta financials seem to be strong for FY 22 because that time the market was not impacted by the macro uncertainty. The macro uncertainty started off in FY23, around the month of June-July, because of higher interest rates, and because of higher inflation in the US market. So, I think the impact will come in FY 23 India financials.”

“Going ahead in terms of FY24 also, there are concerns around innovation, there are concerns around the similar growth profile, and most of these companies have invested very aggressively in a market like India. So, maybe just some near term measure to just recheck the strategy”, Taurani explains. 

No comments, says Meta India

In response to e4m detailed questionnaire to understand the number of sacked employees and their roles and seeking reasons behind the layoff despite huge profits in India, Meta India official said, “We have no comments to offer.”

e4m was directed to check the Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s old blog dated March 24 which was addressed to Meta employees. Excerpts of the blog are: 

“Meta is building the future of human connection, and today I want to share some updates on our Year of Efficiency that will help us do that. The goals of this work are: (1) to make us a better technology company and (2) to improve our financial performance in a difficult environment so we can execute our long term vision.”

“Here’s the timeline you should expect: over the next couple of months, org leaders will announce restructuring plans focused on flattening our orgs, canceling lower priority projects, and reducing our hiring rates. With less hiring, I’ve made the difficult decision to further reduce the size of our recruiting team. We will let recruiting team members know tomorrow whether they’re impacted. We expect to announce restructurings and layoffs in our tech groups in late April, and then our business groups in late May. In a small number of cases, it may take through the end of the year to complete these changes. Our timelines for international teams will also look different, and local leaders will follow up with more details. Overall, we expect to reduce our team size by around 10,000 people and to close around 5,000 additional open roles that we haven’t yet hired.”

(With inputs from Nilanjana Basu)

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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:


  1. High ad-to-content ratio (Up to 30%)

  1. Rapidly auto-refreshing banner ads, autoplay video ads, slide shows forcing visitors to click through multiple ads to access content

  1. High percentage of paid traffic sourcing


  1. Generic low-quality content, often syndicated, dated and non-unique


  1. 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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Tech giants, ed tech cos face 18% IGST

These companies will be taxed for their services in the Online Information Database Access and Retrieval category

By e4m Staff | Sep 28, 2023 10:43 AM   |   1 min read


Google, Facebook and several ed tech firms may have to pay nearly 18% GST on services provided to the government and individuals, as the exemption is likely to end starting October, media networks have reported.

These companies will be taxed for their services in the Online Information Database Access and Retrieval category.

The integrated goods and services tax will be applicable to overseas companies providing advertising, cloud services, online education and some other services, media reports said quoting government officials.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has already decided to amend central and state laws from October 1 to implement a 28% tax on online gaming, casinos and horse racing.

The tax will be applied not to each value of the bets placed but to the entry amount that users pay.

There will be an income tax on winning as per the law. The GST Council also has decided to amend the integrated GST Act related to importing goods and services. Offshore money gaming platforms that do not comply with the requirement will also be blocked.

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Generative AI: Top e-comm players have a new ‘salesman’ for the festivals

From personalizing shopping experience to predicting product demand and automating recommendations, brands are working hard to enhance consumer experience this year

By Kanchan Srivastava | Sep 28, 2023 8:42 AM   |   5 min read


Leading e-commerce players are utilizing the potential of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) to gain deep insights into consumer expectations and preferences, enhance the shopping experience of buyers and predict demands based on past sales. 

Walmart-backed Flipkart, for instance, is set to introduce a range of advanced technology integrations to elevate the shopping experience of customers. 

“This involves the implementation of virtual assistants and generation of product descriptions, high-quality images, creative materials, and augmented reality visualizations, all aimed at enriching the user experience,” Mayur Datar, Chief Data Scientist at Flipkart, tells e4m. 

Datar explains, “With deeper integration of Generative AI, we are reimagining product recommendations based on customers' preferences and behaviours. Flipkart has also developed chat-driven interactions for both customers and sellers, enhanced search capabilities using semantic search technology, and created internal tools to boost productivity and efficiency.”

Ajio, an online fashion and lifestyle store from Reliance Group, has introduced a dreamlike sequence that transports influencers into an AI-Verse generated by artificial intelligence. 

“Within this virtual realm, influencers seamlessly transition between various outfits sourced from Ajio, before returning to their normal selves. This innovative approach to brand promotion is unparalleled,” says Rashi Agarwal, Founder, Megalodon, an AI firm that is working with Ajio to develop its generative AI capabilities. 

Ajio has also appointed influencer Aiyyo Shraddha as “Chief of Small Talk” to add humour into their branding proposition. Besides, the company’s prowess in the ‘moment marketing’ game would also be on display in the festive season. 

Amazon too has rolled out a new set of generative AI capabilities early this month at their premier annual seller conference-Accelerate 2023. 

“The generative AI tools will simplify how sellers create more thorough and captivating product descriptions, titles, and listing details. These new capabilities will make it faster and easier for sellers to list new products as well as enrich existing listings, helping customers more confidently make purchase decisions. The new tools can recognize, summarize, translate, predict, and generate text and other content, to build more comprehensive product descriptions,” the company announced at the conference.  

Top D2C brands too are enthusiastic about presenting engaging content that instantly connects with their target audience, utilizing methods ranging from computer-generated videos to AI creativity, Agarwal says. 


AI-Powered Designs

Traditionally, fashion designers have relied on their intuition and creativity to envision new collections. Now, they are increasingly collaborating with AI systems to generate unique patterns, colour combinations, and even entire garment designs. 

AI is also revolutionizing the supply chain, enabling fashion brands to streamline their operations and minimize waste. This data-driven approach ensures that brands produce the right amount of inventory, reducing excess stock and the need for heavy markdowns. 


Demand predictions 

Brands typically focus on the festive season due to the significant surge in traffic, translating into increased sales. They often overlook some critical aspects of user experience. 

Shashank Rathore, Vice President, E-commerce, Interactive Avenues (the digital arm of IPG Mediabrands India), explains, “As consumers, we've all encountered out-of-stock products during festive seasons, leaving us wondering why brands miss out on potential sales opportunities. However, this time around, brands are harnessing the power of generative AI to analyze historical data and accurately predict product demand.”

These initiatives extend far beyond the festive season as AI has evolved into a long-term sustainable strategy for growth in this digital marketplace, says Shubham Srivastava- AVP, D2CPro Powered by Team Pumpkin. 

He noted, “AI tools may assist in streamlining tasks like data analysis, strategic planning, trend forecasting, and improving customer buying experiences. Amazon, Google, and Shopify are already at the forefront of Gen AI and are utilizing its capability to understand and help with customer needs.”


“E-comm sales to touch Rs 90,000 Cr during fests”

A Redseer report predicts that the Gross Merchandise Value for the entire festive month of India’s eTailing in 2023 will reach approximately INR 90,000 crores, marking an impressive 18-20% growth compared to the previous year’s festive month sales. This growth is expected to be fuelled by a significant user base of around 140 million shoppers who are projected to make online transactions during this festive month. 

“We expect increasing GMV contributions from non-electronics categories like Fashion, BPC, Home & General Merchandise and more this festive period,” says Mrigank Gutgutia, Partner at Redseer Strategy Consultants. 


Separate budget 

Expecting a great festive season, Brands are not hesitant to allocate significant resources for AI. 

Rathore says, “Brands with large budgets are investing in AI by creating in-house AI research and development teams. Mid-sized e-commerce players are choosing to invest in third-party AI tools and platforms that offer ready-made solutions for personalization, recommendation systems, chatbots, and more. However, most of the ecommerce related companies are motivating current teams to learn AI by investing in training programs and educational resources for their employees to build AI knowledge and skills.”

They also allocate separate budgets for hiring data scientists, machine learning engineers, and AI experts who can develop, implement, and maintain AI solutions in future, Rathore noted. 


Will AI help lift consumption?

As per Gutgutia, generative AI will lead to better and novel consumer experiences and drive stronger growth momentum. Some experts are not very hopeful though. 

Rathore opines, “While AI is poised to have a notable impact on driving consumption this year, it's still just a single component in a multifaceted environment, and its effects must be evaluated within the larger framework of consumer behaviour and market dynamics. Furthermore, consumer actions during festive seasons can be shaped by a variety of factors, encompassing economic circumstances, cultural customs, and external occurrences.”

Attributing a direct influence on consumption can be challenging for brands at present, but as we move into the next year, we can anticipate more precise measurements of its impact, he added. 

Moreover, consistency remains a major hurdle in AI, with many AI video tools still in their beta stages yielding unprofessional results, experts point out. 


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Connected TV has emerged as the fastest growing screen for YouTube in 5 yrs: Google India

At Brandcast 2023, the internet giant also shared that YouTube Shorts’ average daily views have grown by over 120% year-on-year

By e4m Staff | Sep 27, 2023 4:02 PM   |   5 min read

Amidst the surge in digital video services, online Indians are curating personal video universes consisting of an average of 5 content platforms with YouTube emerging as their foremost choice for watching videos, according to Google.
“As the number of Internet enabled households equals TV households, viewers are bringing YouTube onto the large screens in their living spaces. With millions of viewers watching YouTube on their Connected TVs, it has emerged as the fastest growing screen for YouTube over the past five years. With creators using Shorts as another tool in their arsenal to express themselves, YouTube Shorts’ average daily views grew by over 120% year-on-year. Giving further definition to their content curation, 33% of Connected TV consumers in urban India do not watch linear TV at all[1], with logged-in viewers averaging 2.5 hours of YouTube watchtime per day,” stated a press release shared by the internet giant at Brandcast 2023.
Satya Raghavan, Director, Marketing Partners, Google India, said, “In the fifteen years since we launched YouTube in India, there has been an extraordinary all-round digital transformation, in connectivity and in content, and today, people have created a boundaryless viewer experience for themselves that straddles across their smartphones and their connected TVs.  We’re delighted that, in this rapidly evolving landscape, YouTube is the platform of choice for four out of every five people online[2]. This is a testament to the unflagging contribution and inventiveness of India’s vast and growing creator economy. Marketers have responded to this heterogeneity by tapping into YouTube’s unique environment to reach their consumers at the right time, in their preferred language, in the right need state, on the right device, with the right creative, and with their most appropriate products. Our AI-powered ads solutions that span the spectrum of creation, customization, and deployment will position businesses at the most rewarding intersection of mMedia, creative, technology and content that only YouTube offers, and help brands achieve their business objectives with the advantage of incrementality.”
YouTube Shorts grow in popularity
With an average of 70 billion daily views globally, YouTube Shorts continues to grow in popularity amongst viewers in India with 96% aged 18 to 44 using YouTube Shorts[3]. Shorts watchtime now also transcends devices with 88% of online 18-44-year-olds watching short-form video content on a TV over the past 12 months[4]. Viewers in India are also splitting their viewing time across many different video formats, spending no more than 21% of their viewing time watching one format[5].
Gen Z gravitates to YouTube
YouTube is Gen Z’s choice as the #1 place they would spend their entire viewing session, significantly more than social media platforms[6]. Driving this preference is that YouTube allows them to easily choose what they watch, offers access to a wide array of content types, and has the best music videos including clips and previews. Moreover, in purchase decisions too, Gen Z relies on YouTube for ads that are personally relevant to them and 88% agree it introduces them to new brands or products[7].
YouTube content uploads grow 40%
Together with the total hours of content uploaded to YouTube by channels in India growing by over 40% in June 2023 vs June 2022, 35+ adults averaged over 70 minutes of YouTube per day in this month. Watch times of videos on the "grwm" or "get ready with me" trend grew more than 500% in the last quarter of  2022, compared to the same period last year, and with "episode highlights" or "season recap" in the title by 120%. As creators begin to tap gen AI for new ideas and audiences, the year has seen over 1.7 Billion views of videos related to or using generative AI tools globally.70% of 18-44 year-old viewers online agree that they are open to watching content from creators that use AI to generate their content.
New AI-powered solutions to enhance ad creativity
Building on the commitment to integrate AI into the full spectrum of phases spanning ads creation, customisation and deployment to help marketers unlock YouTube’s unique multi-screen, multi-format viewer experience, and reach audiences with relevant context, engagement and results, YouTube today announced the launch of a suite of tools in its Ads Creative Studio. With these, marketers will now be able to easily create multiple versions of a single display or video ad customized for different audiences, locations, languages or contexts. Providing this never-before flexibility will be the AI-powered Flip Video, that will enable advertisers to build vertical assets, even when they were not planned for, and the Trim, which leverages machine learning to create 6-seconds bumper ads to help drive efficiencies in campaigns.
New ways to reach CTV viewers

With several significant shifts now well underway, and businesses navigating a rapidly evolving media landscape marked by “cord cutting”, YouTube has been investing in helping advertisers unlock overall media value through increasingly effective cross media campaign measurement. As part of these longstanding efforts, YouTube revealed that the Nielsen CPG meta analysis has shown that YouTube drives nearly 2.3X better ROI than Linear TV[13] with over 65% of 18+ audience reached on YouTube being incremental to TV[14].
With the goal of engaging this growing cohort of Connected TV viewers, over 50% of who watch content that is 21 min or longer on the large screen[15], marketers in India will now also have the ability to leverage two new advertising solutions specific to this audience. 
30-Second YouTube Select Non-Skips, only on Connected TV - Advertisers will soon be able to put a 30s non-skip ad in front of YouTube’s most popular content – from top creators to the biggest content moments iYouTube Connected TV Pause Experience: To help brands drive awareness and action during a user-initiated break in a viewer’s streaming session, YouTube will begin piloting new Pause experiences on Connected TV in 2024. This is seamless for viewers and allows them to learn more about a brand - while creating further opportunity to drive saliency with relevant audiences.

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The Marcom Avenue bags Performance mandate for Priya Gold

The agency will work on enhancing PriyaGold's brand visibility and market reach

By e4m Staff | Sep 27, 2023 2:55 PM   |   2 min read


The Marcom Avenue has announced that it has secured the performance marketing mandate for biscuit brand PriyaGold. The collaboration aims to amplify PriyaGold's digital presence and engagement with its diverse customer base.

“As part of this partnership, The Marcom Avenue will leverage its expertise in data-driven insights, creative content, and cutting-edge digital strategies to enhance PriyaGold's brand visibility and market reach. The agency will focus on driving measurable results, optimising customer acquisition, and increasing overall brand performance,” stated a press release.

"The Marcom Avenue is thrilled to have been entrusted with the performance marketing mandate for Priya Gold. We are excited to work with a brand that is synonymous with quality and innovation in the food industry," said Ms Divanshi Gupta, Director at The Marcom Avenue. "Our team is committed to delivering exceptional results, and we look forward to helping PriyaGold achieve new heights in the digital landscape."

Manas Agarwal, Director, Priya Gold, expressed satisfaction with the collaboration, stating, "Partnering with The Marcom Avenue would prove to be instrumental in leveraging our strengths, amplifying Priya Gold's narrative, and expanding our market reach to a remarkable audience. Their team has consistently demonstrated their expertise in the marketing field and has gone above and beyond to understand our unique requirements. Their efforts have played a significant role in positioning Priya Gold as a preferred choice for snacks and confectionery products. We are excited to continue this partnership and achieve new milestones together."



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Ditch the acronyms to focus on what CTV can really deliver

When did TV stop being TV? Prabhvir Sahmey, Senior Director Samsung Ads, writes how industry’s obsession with jargons is holding everyone, including brands, back

By Prabhvir Sahmey | Sep 27, 2023 8:33 AM   |   4 min read

samsung ads

The online viewing revolution means the word ‘TV’ no longer just describes purely linear TV. Increasing numbers are watching streamed content via Smart TVs and according to IDC over 4.5 million Smart televisions were shipped to India in 1H23, an increase of 8% year-over-year (YoY).

Samsung has been the leading TV manufacturer worldwide for the last 17 years, and this means the data we collate at glass level is representatively robust. In the first half of 2023, this data showed that Indian viewers on Samsung TVs spent almost 88% of their total TV time in streaming environments.

This sea change in viewing behaviour is important for advertisers as the data-driven insights we gather from connected TV (CTV) provide opportunities to deliver more relevant advertising, refine reach to find new audiences and reduce wastage.



Jargon is clouding our understanding of CTV

We are all guilty of over-complicating the TV landscape and reinforcing the fragmentation within the medium with an over-use of jargon. This is detrimental to agencies’ full understanding of how CTV can be utilised as part of an integrated media plan.

Streaming brings the data collation and targeting ability of digital to the world of TV but the disjointed way we talk about the ecosystem can be confusing. We have created an alphabet soup of categorisation. One that viewers do not care about and which muddies the waters in our own commercial conversations.

The original labels that initially accompanied the streaming revolution– Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD) and Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) – can be useful in identifying these two different streaming environments.

Viewers certainly understand if they are watching TV for free or paying for the experience - and we know most streamers in India are happy to watch advertisements in return for access to free content. Research we carried out with Verve shows 80% of people in India are happy with this trade off. On the other hand, subscription numbers are churning as people face increased economic pressures.

But we have since added to a growing list of acronyms FAST (Free Advertiser Supported Streaming TV), a descriptor to explain the proposition of a scheduled streaming channel, and we’re grappling with an acronym for Subscription with Advertising Tiers as the SVOD platforms look to new monetisation models.

Will HVOD (Hybrid Video on Demand) win out or SAVOD (Subscription Advertising Video on Demand) win out? This is exactly the kind of meaningless debate around terminology all involved in the TV industry need to put aside.

Step out of siloed thinking

Planners can find these acronyms useful but the lines between these different viewing environments are blurring so much that as an industry we risk creating a convoluted landscape for ourselves that will hold back overall CTV growth. Acronyms become out of date and can inhibit fresh thinking – the most creative solutions and TV buys come from stepping out of siloed thinking.

Agency buyers and planners who may be anxious about their streaming knowledge should be confident in the digital abilities they have honed across a range of media. If you understand how digital media is traded and the capabilities of programmatic then the fundamentals of how to plan and buy CTV will not be difficult to grasp.


Audience first approach

Instead, the focus should be on gaining a deeper knowledge of the viewer and how to reach them. Understanding what they watch, their preferences and how to deliver a positive, privacy compliant experience in which advertisements are welcomed as an integral part of the whole should be the goal. The data-driven insights surfaced by CTV are what is truly important, not the label categories.

This will come by breaking down the silos including the ones that might exist in agencies between audio-visual and digital teams – alignment across teams to focus on CTV’s strengths will deliver the best results for advertisers. These strengths include knowledge at the glass level of watch time,  awareness of favourite genres and the ability to identify audiences that have not been reached by a brand’s linear TV campaign.

These insights mean brands can devise complementary campaigns for advertisers that can reach fractured audiences, whether they are linear TV viewers or streaming enthusiasts. Planning against deterministic data rather than siloed viewing formats badged by acronyms  will lead to the media mix best optimised to meet marketing objectives.



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