Times Internet has bucked the trend with homegrown Adtech Stack Colombia
In this article, Swapnil Shrivastav, CTO and Founder, Colombia, Times Internet, speaks about how US publishers are still (relatively) doing a much better job of able to move direct sales demand from offline to online in the same period.
India’s retail ecosystem is as vibrant as our cultures, cuisines and languages. The nuances of this were also reflected in the media landscape – every Newspaper/TV/Radio brand had a direct sales team that contributed to revenue gain and growth. However, as a significant number of advertisers have migrated towards an ROI-led digital-first approach to advertising, publishers have struggled to earn digital revenues as per their expectations. Interesting, US publishers have done a considerably better job at moving their direct sales demand from offline to online in the same time.
A new paradigm
Over the past half a decade, the bulk of ad spends from performance/ROI-based advertisers have moved to large adtech ecosystems like Google and Facebook. However, for brands looking to target a premium audience, there is considerable value for premium publishers globally via direct sales teams/agencies. Given the yield of CPM buys is typically 3-5 times of the network yield, even a 20% fill by direct/CPM can almost double revenue.
In US, its regular practice for savvy premium publishers to leverage data exchanges to buy and layer data (like age and gender) on the inventory. In India, most of this work is done by agencies who aggregate inventory from premium publishers to sell to brand marketers, both on paper IO or programmatic direct. In return, the direct sales at premium publishers has been relegated to Cost per Day sales or Solutions/Microsite, almost completely missing the CPM/premium audience revenue.
Digital advertising has been commoditised
One of the major reasons behind this is that Adtech plumbing has never proven to be cost-effective for individual publishers with effective costs being around 20% of the revenue back in 2012. Publisher Trading desks also had significant minimum monthly costs and data buying via traditional exchanges was prohibitive (almost 30% of the media CPM). Consequently, ad agencies took upon themselves to set up this infrastructure but that disconnected the direct sales teams of premium publishers who had long-term advertiser connects with state-of-the-art Adtech. Today we see open exchange floors for premium publishers in India at a third of where they were 3 years ago, validating this commoditization theory.
Times Internet is the only exception as we have been able to invest to build our entire AdTech stack in-house, Colombia, right from DMP, revenue automation, mediation to ad server to Machine Learning-driven performance buying. This gives our direct sales teams tools to deliver CPC/Cost Per Goal campaigns or ‘audience-layer’ buys across native, display and videos. Our massive distribution network of 450 million readers has helped support this ambition and has made premium performance compelling at scale. Today Colombia, our inhouse AdTech platform helps bring an additional 45 external premium publishers to come together, creating a cost-effective alternative outside of Google and Facebook.