HomeBusinessInterview: PivotRoots MD Shibu Shivanandan says, “Programmatic comes with the promise of transparency, efficiency and more balanced media buys outside of the duopoly

Interview: PivotRoots MD Shibu Shivanandan says, “Programmatic comes with the promise of transparency, efficiency and more balanced media buys outside of the duopoly



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Sandeep Balani, India Head – OutBrain has recently caught up with Shibu Shivanandan, Founder & Managing Director of PivotRoots – a leading agency and innovator in the digital advertising space for DigiTalks series.

Established 4 years ago, Pivot Roots is a true Indian success story with leading brands such as Amazon Prime, Disney, and Grofers amongst its many top clients. The agency made its mark in the very competitive advertising space by combining data with creativity. But before data comes people.

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Shibu reminds us what makes an agency or any business successful, “team, dedication, the right kind of people, doing good work for the client, and constant innovation”.

Looking beyond the success of the agency and what the future holds for the digital space, it’ no surprise that data, attribution models, Programmatic and Native were front and center.

Sandeep Balani: What can we expect next from Native Advertising?

Shibu Shivanandan: Up until now, the market has primarily looked at Native from a performance marketing lens. However Native as an advertising format should be looked at more from an experiential, top of the funnel, and engagement metrics point of view.

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We need to shift from just focusing on just taking users to a landing page to fill out a form.

The larger shift the industry has to make it how we leverage native programmatic. Programmatic has tapped into the top of the mind audience, the prospecting funnel, which is a much more valuable audience, especially if you can leverage all the first-party data.

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With programmatic, Native can be a fantastic branding and awareness platform and not just a performance solution.

With Native, you can start with content, and then seamlessly integrate solutions where the user can then go onto the site, complete a form, or a purchase.

Sandeep: Why marketers must invest in full-funnel attribution models?

Shibu: Taking Native as an example, it should be a top of the funnel solution, Native should help search and intent-based buys. Marketers should be measuring its Impact on paid search and how your marketing funnel is building up. With the right attribution model, you can track from the top of the funnel all the way through.

For marketers looking to invest in Native, it is very important that natives not only be measured from the bottom of the funnel but the whole way through, And that is where a good attribution model will help.

Sandeep: What impact will Programmatic have on media buys and the duopoly?

Shibu: When you consider the global programmatic trends it is hard to ignore the facts. The future of digital advertising is certainly programmatic (except for biddable platforms like Facebook and Google).

With programmatic comes the promise of transparency and efficiency, but it will also bring growth opportunities for non-biddable digital spend, i.e growth outside of Facebook and Google.

“Marketers will be able to have a more balanced digital strategy.”

I have ambitious goals for our agency and we aim to be as close to 100% programmatic soon, and when commenting on this new balancing of the digital ecosystem.

“I am hoping we are playing a very equal and important role,” he added.

Coming back to the topic of Native, Shibu also commented on the Programmatic impact there. “Native programmatic is the next evolution, now we will have access to an automated platform, where it can help you plug in your first-party data, deliver better creatives and better control of the inventory you are serving, and brand safety. Combined this will boost Native.”

Sandeep: What to expect from a cookieless world?

Shibu: With the changes not expected for another 2 years, there is still time for advertisers to leverage third-party data while they build up their first-party data said Shibu.

However, while a “cookieless world” is a hot topic of the industry, the reality is that in India the majority of spend is still happening on first-party data, India is still catching up on third party data, there are still some challenges around data validation.

But overall, the Indian advertising market is still very focused and very strong on first-party data strategies, such as creating lookalike audiences, segmented audiences, and custom campaigns.

The shift will impact a lot of DMPs for instance, but brands will figure out new ways to reaching audiences and Native will continue to be the main pipeline for reaching audiences.

Sandeep: Do we need DSPs?

Shibu: Our goal is to go 100% programmatic so ultimately we will route everything through DSPs. The goal is to be data first and having a single view of the customer which is why programmatic is the right platform. Transparency will help the whole ecosystem.


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Sandeep Balani
Sandeep Balanihttps://www.linkedin.com/in/sandeep-balani-3b6306b/
Sandeep Balani is the Head of India for Outbrain.

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