Sandeep Balani, Head of India, Outbrain, shares his opinion on the evolving nature of media spends alternatives to break the stereotype and build a digital media plan.
What once was is no more. Agencies across India are now seeking to diversify budgets away from the stereotype and expand the horizons of the digital advertising ecosystem. In order to protect brands and their dollars from brand safety risk, media buy has shifted to platforms that deliver ads in optimal placements alongside other credible and relevant content, with access to the right audiences. With a greater demand for transparency, the two ‘cookie monsters’ – Google and Facebook – have a major fight on their hands, as agencies look for independent data sources to better understand customers and create more personalised engagement.
Right person, right place, right time – that’s the recipe to quality advertising. While display once dominated publisher inventory, this traditional medium separates itself from other content on the page – and not fit to brand image. Native advertising, on the other hand, allows publishers to strike a chord with users through relevant content that runs seamlessly with the page, providing a consistent user experience. Indian publishers have observed an increase in CPMs from native platforms like Outbrain, signalling a changing of the guard when it comes to digital advertising – all in the name of quality.
With 493 million Indians online every day, and with different ways to reach them, native is thriving outside the walled gardens of Facebook and Google. Publishers in editorial environments are increasingly opening up their inventory due to its combination of quality content, reach, efficiency, and brand safety. Contextual targeting with editorial native ads is better controlled, whereas such control is limited with social or search advertising. Relying on this duopoly is not only a missed opportunity elsewhere, but it leaves you susceptible to its unpredictable environment. As audiences seek personalization, there is greater importance to deliver hyper-relevant content across the different channels where they engage without putting your brand at risk. As a result, native ad spend continues to emerge as the most dominating advertising format, and its 18% uplift in purchase intent is just one indicator of that.
Once upon a time in a digital era now outdated, publishers were relying on YouTube to upload their content and deliver revenue. The problem with YouTube? Its immense liability when it comes to brand safety, as ads can be easily served within controversial or inappropriate content. Today, publishers have turned to building their own platform – examples being the emergence of Hotstar, Voot, MXplayer, and SonyLiv. Furthermore, video platforms like JW player are now offering technology to publishers on a SaaS model to build their own offering. Video views on OTT channels were 63% year over year in 2016, and this pattern has been growing consistently since then. Hotstar currently stands as the country’s most accessed OTT platform, and ahead of even YouTube, which has about 265 million monthly active users.
Advertisers are now using this opportunity to target premium content via OTT apps and reach out to higher valued audiences. With this alternative, YouTube has taken a bit of a backseat as ad revenue via OTT is set to increase from 40% to 60% in the next decade.
Social Networking Applications and UGC content apps.
With the popularity of new applications to socialize, the user base is shifting from Facebook – millennials are starting to think it isn’t even “cool” anymore. Other applications, such as Pinterest, have entered the spotlight – 176 million registered users and 110 million of them active daily users – and, in India, Pinterest is the 6th most popular social networking site. Other applications like Snapchat have users that visit 25 times per day, and 63% of Snapchat users access the platform daily. Above all, with over 562 million users, is LinkedIn – the leading social channel for business-to-business (B2B) marketers. In fact, 92% of B2B marketers prefer to use this platform over everything else in the social space.
People have problems they need to be solved, and utility apps are one way to remedy those specific tasks. The market for in-application advertising is quickly developing with more applications becoming indispensable, but it is also important to keep the consumer experience in mind for proper monetization generation. The best way to engage consumers in the app is to incite them to keep coming back. Apps like Shareit, which is a file transferring app, have more than 300 million users in India. Truecaller is another that has more than 100 million active daily users. Such utility apps are useful because they capitalise on the user journey, as they are more need-based and more engaging for consumers to come back again and again. If less advertisers are spending their budget on Facebook and Google as a means to advertise, then revenue coming from the duopoly is soon to follow.
- News Aggregators
Users have increasingly begun to use single apps for all their desired news content consumption. Dailyhunt, as a result of this trend, has quickly become India’s number one in-app news and local language content application, and such news aggregators are an opportunity for advertisers to reach highly engaged users.
Ad tech and media is definitely getting more and more fragmented as users start using different apps for their daily consumption. With the evolution of these trending applications, there are many ad alternatives available, creating a world of opportunity that extends far beyond the duopoly of Google and Facebook.
Sandeep Balani is the Head of India for Outbrain, where he is responsible for advancing the market penetration of the entire range of Outbrain’s product portfolio, managing both the Publisher and Advertiser sides of the business.