May 27, 2019

"Programmatic is about effectiveness, not efficiencies" - FreakOut's Narayan Murthy Ivaturi

FreakOut’s Global COO, Adtech Business, on the future of programmatic video advertising

"We talk a lot about data in programmatic ad forms, but if you go deeper into it, I don’t think many people are actually using data. There is nothing happening at scale right now," Narayan Murthy Ivaturi

Programmatic ad spend is proliferating.

Advertisers will spend US$ 84 billion programmatically in 2019, up from US$70 billion in 2018, representing 62% of digital media ad, according to Zenith’s Programmatic Marketing Forecasts.
While US is still the biggest programmatic market, APAC is on the rise, in part bolstered by the dramatic increase in mobile internet penetration.

In 2020, half of the population will be mobile internet users, and that number is predicted to climb up to 63% 2025, or 2.7 billion people, says a GSMA Intelligence report. The same report notes that 4G has overtaken 2G to become the leading mobile technology by share of connections, and 4G growths will continue to happen in emerging markets like India.

This has huge implications for adtech companies with growing footprint in the region.

The 30-second rule, instream and transparency 

One such global adtech player is FreakOut, an international marketing technology company with presence in 19 countries including India, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
Narayan Murthy Ivaturi, FreakOut’s Global COO, Adtech Business, comments on the advancement of video programmatic in the region,

“India, Indonesia and Thailand are similar in that a lot of people [in these countries] didn’t have desktops - they started using internet on their mobiles. Their viewing habits are very different from people in say, the US or the UK. We usually say no to video campaigns that run for more than 30 seconds.”

The preponderance of mobile users in Southeast Asia and India also means that outstream videos are going to be a more popular format. Compared to desktop users, mobile users tend to scroll more on a page. If they see something that isn’t of any interest, they tend to scroll to the next item fairly quickly. If they see an outstream video that’s of interest, they’d stop scrolling, stay on the page a bit longer, perhaps,  But if they see one that isn’t of interest, they could just keep scrolling without having to click the ‘skip’ tab. 

Moreover, the outstream ad format frees advertisers from the need of having a content piece aka 'pretext; to run with their ad. Similarly it frees publishers from selling only when there is an existing video, for example, on Youtube.

All of this makes FreakOut, which specialises in outstream ads format, perfectly positioned to serve both premium publishers and advertisers globally. FreakOut’s strength also lies in the fact that it is a global company with a vast international network of premium publishers and an endorsement of its global partners.

"For the publisher’s audience, it's less intrusive. For the advertisers, it expands the reach of their target audience  across the web. Because of this, greater economies of scale can be passed to both, advertisers and publishers." 

The outstream ad format promises greater freedom

FreakOut’s immersion in the regional media landscape also means that the company has the capability to “go to the local populations”. 

“We understand the culture – their needs and viewing habits. Our completion ratios are 85%, which is significantly higher than the industry standards.”

As for the criticism that programmatic is detrimental to creativity?

“Programmatic and creativity used to be quite silo-ed but I think they’re starting to come together now. Programmatic has huge implications for storytelling, and vice versa.”

While publishers have always known to target the right customers with the right ad, programmatic provides an opportunity for addressable advertising at scale. 

“Say, you have a campaign, you create a hundred creatives to be placed in different places. Programmatic will be able to tell you how these individual videos are performing, and using this data, you might be able to narrow the 100 creatives to four. Programmatic is about effectiveness, not efficiencies.”

More partnerships, less silos

One thing that Ivaturi aims to change in the video programmatic world though, is the use of data.
“We talk a lot about data in programmatic ad forms, but if you go deeper into it, I don’t think many people are actually using data. There is nothing happening at scale right now,” says Ivaturi. “The problem isn’t the amount of data – we have a lot of it. It is that there is no unified data source. There needs to be a common language, a common syntax.”

To achieve that, there needs to be trust between adtech companies and publishers.

“What we provide is unique rich format, but publishers also need to open up their video inventories to us. And we find that our long-term partners are happy to do that.”

Campaign Asia

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