WATConsult Executive VP Sahil Shah says, “2020 is the year we will be 100% programmatic.”

Like everywhere else, the Indian digital market is very much controlled by the big three where most of the ad dollars get invested.

But India has started to see a huge shift which has led to the rise of new formats such as native.

In the first series of Digitalks, Sandeep Balani, Head of India for Outbrain, in partnership with JoshTalks explores the opportunity on “How some of the big themes advertisers in India and globally are wrestling with daily, starting with the battle between Branding and Performance,” with Sahil Shah, Executive VP at WATConsult.

A lot of marketers are moving more and more towards performance marketing vs branding, but what is the right mix? Sahil takes an interesting take on the matter and talks about “Brand-Formance”.

“I don’t think there is a huge amount of difference between branding and performance,” he said.

At WATConsult we take a “Brand-Formance” approach whereby they are less focused on actions that will drive results that day but will eventually drive results. This is an interesting take on building long-term brand equity while driving results by focusing on just one or the other in isolation.

Sahil goes on to say that “this is what TV advertising’s job is, this is what offline advertising’s job is, so why can’t it be digital’s job also?”

Sandeep goes on to explore “data”, an industry hot topic! There is no question that in the last 5 years, data has taken a leading role in how advertising is planned, executed and measured. Shahil goes even further to describe “Data as a service”.

“In the years to come, the agencies that stand out will be the agencies that consult based on data”.

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From data, they then naturally segwayed to Programmatic, another trending topic in the industry, and as Shahil rightly points out “Everybody offers programmatic, everybody has data, everybody has everything to offer, but how you use it, for what objectives, and then how you deploy it and measure it, is going to be what’s important.”

He goes on to describe the entire customer journey and highlights that “that journey has to be defined, has to be platform agnostic, and that programmatic will play a huge role in it”.

But ultimately what they are trying to do, as are most marketers today, is to find interesting and unique ways of making sure we make the best use of the platforms available such as Outbrain’s native DSP Zemanta.

Programmatic is not only here to stay but is well on its way to becoming the default media buying mechanism. Some estimate Display to already be 90% purchased programmatically and we expect to see that same trend with Native.

The year on year growth and success of Zemanta, the DSP built specifically for natives, is a testament to that trend.

Sahil confirms this trend when discussing the ambitions they have at Watconsult and goes as far as to say that “Our ambition, and we are already very close to it, is to be 100% programmatic”.

“I am a believer in the future, the future is data, the future is automation. It’s about time humans do what they are supposed to do, which adds value to existing ecosystems and let machines do the job of a machine. “

So what does this mean for programmatic in India? With only half a billion people on the internet, unlike mature markets like the US, India still has a huge potential to grow.

Sahil predicts that by 2023, there will be 1 billion users online…. In other words, a huge opportunity for advertisers in India.

But with opportunity comes responsibility “on this scale and this power, we must make sure we manage this responsibility of data and do it in the right way”.

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