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In the current age where advertising on the internet is marred with data leaks, Programmatic can be a step forward towards transparency, according to Matt Brocklehurst, programmatic and platforms marketing lead, Asia Pacific at Google.

Google has been pushing its Programmatic Guaranteed agenda in India to take advantage of the 400 million people who are online already and the number is set to increase to 650 million by 2020. Therefore for Google, the potential to add efficiency and scale with programmatic is immense.

Google recently ran a test, alongside Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Nielsen, to try to ascertain how much more efficient it is to run campaigns through a consolidated Programmatic Guarantee system.

BCG took a look at overall video display market across APAC. In 2017, the market was $14.5bn and it is estimated to be $19bn by 2020. In India, Programmatic Guaranteed’s market share of all video and display digital ad spend in India is expected to jump 3x from 6% to 17% by 2020. 

As to how Google is instilling confidence among the agencies and publishers, Brocklehurst says: “There are more conversations around transparency and we are taking it very seriously. Whether its India or other APAC countries, we are still a young industry. We are still developing ways to deliver better for advertisers and publishers. Programmatic is a step forward towards transparency if done properly. Earlier, there was lot of over processing and no one point of truth. The move to Programmatic Guaranteed has helped both agencies and publishers in terms of achieving transparency as they now have one single report for both side to see in  real time.

Deep diving into programmatic and opportunities in India market, Brocklehurst says: “One may think that there is a lot of jargon around programmatic, but in simple terms it’s just about using technology to serve ads automatically for the right user at right time, right message. And the opportunity in India is obviously quite massive.”

According to Matt, India doesn’t have the same sort of legacy issues as other industries and markets, companies can go straight into the programmatic environment. Sometimes there are real challenges with India in terms of where traditional ways of digital marketing issues such as bill payments and things like that, where he believes programmatic can really help.

Whether the interest is coming from media agencies, publishers ?or brands, he says: “The reason Programmatic Guaranteed is interesting from marketer's perspective is because it tackles a lot of misconceptions around programmatic. So publishers are quite reluctant to put their premium inventory into the programmatic space - premium inventory would mean a home-page, masthead, a more premium video for an audience that are fitness enthusiasts - so they wanted to get a guaranteed price and a guaranteed volume which you can get through direct reservation but traditionally within a programmatic environment, you can't do that. So they were concerned and didn't want to put their 'crown jewels' into programmatic environment."

With Programmatic Guaranteed, Google believes that publishers can get a fixed priced and fixed volume so they get both assurance and automation. Brocklehurst believes publishers are the key drivers and gives an example of the TrueCaller which is a big Swedish company coming to India which is one of their biggest market.

"They have managed to leapfrog into this environment so they traded pretty much 100% of their inventory programmatically, 20% of which is Programmatic Guaranteed. There is big savings efficiency for both publishers and agencies,”adds Brocklehurst.

Despite being fined Rs. 136.8 crore a (£15.2m) by fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) for abuse of its dominance and biased search practices in India, Google managed to enter the top 20 in TRA’s Brand Trust Report 2018 (BTR 2018).

As to what are the key challenges which Google faces in India, he says: “In terms of the uptake in India, there are more traditional companies like Times Internet which are embracing programmatic guarantee but on the flip side you see some of the big brands in India adopting programmatic like Maruti, Nissan, Ford, Unilever, Maxlife, Nestle etc. Some of the challenges which we see in Europe, we also see in India but obviously have a different flavour. Some of the things that the BCG report mentions is the opportunity of better management of data. How businesses in India can manage their data is an opportunity because they have islands of data and how they bring them together for effective advertising.

However, Matt believes that there has definitely been an uptake in terms of knowledge of programmatic in India which is why the expertise is growing. Despite this, people working in programmatic and direct advertising are not sharing knowledge with each other. BCG highlighted this as a big opportunity to spread programmatic knowledge within the organisation.