Ad:tech, New Delhi 2022 was a remarkable event for two reasons, a) it was the first in-person ad tech event since the pandemic, and b) it was a terrific opportunity to meet people from the industry and listen to industry leaders speaking, highlighting, and sharing opinions on the present and the future of ad tech. Our founders, Kavita Shenoy (CEO), Anand Gopal (COO), Anil Karat (CTO), and Jithin George (CPO), were present at the event and have helped us collect valuable takeaways from multiple keynotes and conversations. Here are nine takeaways from the event.
Metaverse is giving rise to frictionless sales and frictionless experiences. Sandeep Bhushan from Meta delivered a keynote on the Metaverse paving a new way for brands to engage with the audience. While it is a challenge, brands are more imaginative and focus on eliminating friction from commerce. The metaverse economy is already here, and consumers are crafting rich experiences. Marketers must follow suit and continue removing friction from commerce wherever consumers are.
The creators’ influence is helping brands get a deeper understanding of the closed-loop between brands and commerce. Akshat Sahu from Sharechat delivered a keynote on the massive opportunity in enabling creators and influencers. He argues that the popularity and adoption of apps like Sharechat and Moj in India’s tier 2 and tier 3 cities indicate a massive opportunity to enable creators to attract non-metro audiences. Creators are taking centre stage; GenZ is consuming nearly a third of its content via short video apps, which creates a massive opportunity for marketers.
Moving beyond demographics, Jio Ads’ Gulshan Verma’s keynote teased the idea of the physical world informing the digital one and how joining the dots can lead to a deeper understanding of audiences. Something far, far more than what demographics can tell. The end of third-party cookies only means that brands must rely on first-party data more than ever before. But are they ready?
Jio and Airtel have realised the gold mine of data they are sitting on, uncovered by the deprecation of third-party cookies. Technologies are being built (like Criteo) to bolster and layer first-party data at the other end.
Naturally, Jio is looking to leverage the Jio-Reliance universe and the potential access to a vast pool of customer data. This is a potential gold mine of first-party data in a world that will be void of third-party cookies soon. By joining the dots between offline and online data, marketers can deeply understand their consumers.
Sonia Khurana, Sumeet Singh, Rubeena Singh, and Monaz Todywalla had a panel discussion on the myth of the “single source of truth” for marketers, indicating that while multi-attribution is a step in the right direction, marketer’s must move common KPIs to the only common entity, the customer. It’s time to take steps towards this future and make it a reality.
Mitch Waters and Tejinder Gill from The Trade Desk touched upon the key questions to ask your programmatic partner. Probing their objectivity, media ownership, openness, and view on the cookie-less future looks like an approach to a sustainable identity strategy.
In Mitch’s books, shifting winds in our industry beholds us to educate the entire value chain. The belief is that a rising tide floats all boats. The emphasis is that programmatic buying is not a separate channel but a transaction medium—like how we buy products online.
Trade Desk’s panelists believe that once third-party cookies go away, it takes power to the big players and everyone, including brands, to be aware of this and invest in technologies that can continue to provide value to brands and consumers while keeping the ecosystem open. It’s essential to understand how your programmatic partners prepare for the future.
What is the future of CTV? Do the drawbacks outweigh the benefits? While there were several points of view on what CTV represented, the benefits of the technology far outweigh the cons.
Screen awareness, a multitude of choices, on-demand viewing, and serving niche audiences at scale were some of the benefits pointed out by Ranjana Mangla.
Nikhil from Media Smart made a pertinent point that we address consumers on a medium versus a channel. Being conscious of that could play to a brand’s advantage.
Voiro CTO Anil Karat made says, “would CTV make a difference to mass brands? These brands are the ones who are ploughing the majority of the ad money into the ecosystem. Everyone needs toothpaste.”
Overall, while CTV growth is slow, there is a steady climb in adoption, and the future most certainly belongs to it. Whether the consumer is watching linear or on-demand content, we can monitor and target it in real-time.
Audience segments that watch linear and on-demand are different. OTT platforms are getting themselves installed in Smart TVs so that both regular TV users and GenZ users are consuming content on TV.
The takeaway is that with the right tech, brands, TV manufacturers, service providers, and publishers can all add more value to the ecosystem.
Arjun Kolady from Spotify Advertising began his keynote by believing that audio is an intricate part of our lives, giving us a soundtrack to get ready, commute, work, focus, and unwind.
I remember when I was in college when a big part of our identity was our playlists.
In Arjun’s books, Spotify is working closely with advertisers to find a way to enter this most remarkable relationship between humans and sound gingerly.
While the world over, the split between subscription and advertising revenue is 60:40, India is predominantly an ad-driven market.
With a self-service platform coming out soon and the ability for advertisers to have Spotify create the audio creatives for them spells exciting things for the market.
Interestingly, India spends an average of 2.5 hrs on audio in a day. Listening to audio is an immersive experience that draws the listener into a bubble.
This medium indeed presents advertisers with various opportunities to find and interact with their audience in a meaningful way—raising the bar for quality and tone of content that has the potential to enable creators to talk to their listeners at their most engaged and immersed states. Marketers must find a way to consistently embrace audio as a new way to connect deeply with their audiences.
Resha Jain, Jabir Merchant, Prashant Puri, and Abhinav Gupta had a panel discussion about how platforms expand their short-form offerings and how this fits into their marketing strategy that drives results.
A few pertinent points from the discussion included how short-form video is gaining popularity, and its relationship with long-form is akin to IPL’s relationship with test cricket.
This means it’s popular, current, and where consumers are, so a brand’s dollars need to recognise it.
Additionally, Resha addressed the need for brands to understand the platform’s DNA and create content that blends in as per the platform, like educational content for Moj, entertainment content for Josh, etc.
Another crucial point raised was our ability to measure ROI, questioning the overreliance on metrics. But then, how do you justify the money brands are paying for CPMs? Maybe we need a different proxy and measure of value.
Tejas Apte from Unilever delivered a keynote where he showcased several ways in which multi-brand giants leverage industry trends to understand their consumers, build trust and, above all, solve problems for consumers to build lasting relationships.
He emphasised that brand marketing should be conscious and purposeful, reflecting one of the core values of Unilever as a company.
Tejas also highlighted the examples of branded content and the need to associate activities with quantifiable business outcomes.
One thing that struck us was a recurring theme that we heard across the event—over-indexing on metrics as a proxy for business outcomes, or ROI, and being careful about innovation for its sake and not to the consumer’s benefit.
Brands end up chasing one metric – Sales. We need publishers and ad tech stack owners who must leverage technology to achieve and track this.
As a result, Unilever strongly believes in live and local e-commerce and has conducted many pilots and collaborations in SEA.
Another segment of focus for Tejas (and Unilever) is gaming. Their experiments in gaming have shown promise, and they will continue to invest in this medium.
Tejas believes that first-party data collection through gamification is worth it. He emphasises that first-party data is becoming more critical, and brands need to figure out innovative ways to acquire it. He firmly believes that brands must craft their own story and purpose.
The road ahead for ad-tech is full of challenges in new avatars. This has always been the case and one that the ad world has always overcome with innovation and technology. Identity and measurement in a privacy-first world, new frontiers in the Metaverse and cryptocurrency, and closing the loop between marketers and commerce – are some trends that will pave the way forward. It was a fantastic experience listening to our industry’s leading thinkers as they illuminated the road ahead.