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The Trade Desk has designed a solution that replaces cookies, upgrades privacy while preserving the value of relevant advertising for advertisers and publishers: Tejinder Gill of The Trade Desk
Marketers don’t get much say in what content they support and very little feedback on how their ads performed on walled gardens: Tejinder Gill of The Trade Desk
The Trade Desk’s Tejinder Gill on why CTV and open internet is the future of programmatic advertising in India
ad-tech

The Trade Desk has designed a solution that replaces cookies, upgrades privacy while preserving the value of relevant advertising for advertisers and publishers: Tejinder Gill of The Trade Desk

The Trade Desk’s Tejinder Gill on why CTV and open internet is the future of programmatic advertising in India
  • Global advertising technology major, The Trade Desk on Wednesday announced the launch of operations in India and said it has appointed Tejinder Gill as the Country General Manager.
  • The platform aims to help digital marketers unleash the full potential of the open internet.
  • We catch up with Tejinder Gill, General Manager, The Trade Desk, India to find out more about his role at his new job, difference between walled gardens and open internet, finding the right platform in a fragmented market and goals for this year
Due to the global pandemic, many businesses have altered their marketing strategies and started focusing more on digital advertising. Content consumption, especially, has grown multifold in India as corporate employees continue to work from home. Marketers are constantly on the lookout for new avenues and Global AdTech platform The Trade Desk has entered this ripe market while the iron is hot.

According to Statista, the digital advertising industry across India spent 38% on programmatic purchases in 2020. Overall, the projections indicate that the industry would increasingly change to programmatic media buying over the next few years, with a market share of almost 42% by 2022.

With cloud-based, data-driven platform The Trade Desk, marketers will now have the option of exploring the open internet outside of the known social media and search platforms that most people are familiar with. Open internet includes targeted display, video, Connected TV (CTV), OTT, online news platforms, audio, native, and social ads across every device.

Global Web Index’s latest report revealed that Indians, on average, are spending as many as eight hours a day online, 70% of which is spent on the open internet, which is a huge opportunity for marketers. Open internet has even surpassed social media’s growth trajectory in the last year.

We caught up with Tejinder Gill, General Manager, The Trade Desk, India who recently joined the company from Truecaller, to find out why open internet is an important marketplace, trends we can expect in digital advertising, how to find the perfect media mix in a highly fragmented market and goals for this year.

Excerpts:

Q. Why is it important for brands to explore the open internet in today's market?

Even though Indian consumers are spending 70 percent of their time on the open internet, almost 80 percent of India’s digital ad revenue still goes to the big tech platforms, which sit outside the open internet.

In these economically stressed times, brands and marketers are under pressure from their CFOs to prove the ROI of every advertising dollar. It is thus essential for them to leverage the fast-growing opportunities offered by the thriving open internet and reap the benefits of greater agility and flexibility needed in navigating today’s volatile environment.

Q. Almost 80% of India’s digital ad revenue still goes to the big tech platforms which sit outside the open internet. What is stopping marketers from exploring these platforms?

Brands and marketers are drawn to big tech platforms because of their dominant position and early mover advantage. We call them Walled Gardens because they keep their technology, information, and user data to itself, with no intention of sharing it. Brands and marketers don’t get much say in what content they support, and very little feedback on how their ads performed. But they go there because they have to.

However, Indian marketers are now looking for credible alternatives – those that offer them greater transparency and control. As a result, they are embracing data-driven advertising on platforms such as The Trade Desk more than ever. Ironically, this economic crisis has helped focus advertiser attention on the power of what we do as every dollar they spend needs to work harder.

We are here to bring the much-needed data-driven decisioning and transparency to India’s digital advertising ecosystem, offering marketers a credible choice where they can tap into the immense opportunities of the open internet.

Q. What are some of the formats of advertising that The Trade Desk would offer? How big is your CTV inventory in India currently?

With The Trade Desk’s data-driven capabilities, marketers can access a marketplace of premium advertising inventory across a wide range of websites, apps, podcasts and streaming OTT platforms.

Last year, CTV/OTT was the strongest growth channel for the global ad market and it was also the fastest growing on our platform globally. As a global leader in CTV/OTT, The Trade Desk is the only platform uniquely positioned to offer advertisers the ability to buy from all OTT platforms. We can help brands and marketers get holistic visibility across the user journey by unifying their buys across multiple OTT providers, leverage advanced targeting capabilities and help retarget users across devices/channels along with a universal frequency control across platforms.

Q. What is fuelling the open internet growth in India? How would you help expand its growth further in the country?

Over the last few years, rapid digitization of the media industry has provided a paradigm shift in the way Indians consume content online. In particular, with more people spending more time at home in the last 18 months, content consumption on the open internet has exploded.

Today, India’s marketers are operating in times of uncertainty and volatility. They are seeking agility and flexibility, and the ability to understand what’s working, in different markets, in real time, and this can be made possible only with data-driven strategies.

The Trade Desk is here to help India’s marketers capture these fast-growing opportunities on the open internet. Through its industry-leading cloud-based platform, marketers can access a marketplace of premium ad inventory on the open internet and reach relevant audiences across different devices (including computers, mobile devices, tablets and connected TV), and engage with them meaningfully along their entire digital journey.

Q. What kind of response have you seen from brands and agencies in India so far?

Brands and agencies are welcoming us with open arms as they are looking for a strategic partner who is agile, can operate across platforms and offers them valuable options beyond the walled gardens. We also have relationships with the world’s largest media agencies and all five of them have signed up with us here in India.

We have extensive partnerships with India’s leading publishers, data providers and industry players. Aside from leading publishers, we have also paved extensive inroads when it comes to OTT offerings with partners including Hotstar, Zee5, MX Player and Sony Liv. Some of our data partners include Zapr and Lifesight amongst others.

Q. The internet is so fragmented today. There are many platforms that buyers are looking to invest in, how do you suggest that they get the best bang for their buck?

Because media is so fragmented, programmatic advertising offers the best alternative to reach relevant audiences across different devices (including computers, mobile devices, tablets and connected TV), and engage with them meaningfully along their entire digital journey.

Over the last year, we’ve seen brands in India and around the world embracing programmatic advertising on platforms such as ours more aggressively than before. The rise of e-commerce has also led to the evolution of brands adopting programmatic, asking for a mix of brand and performance led digital marketing – radically different from the pre-Covid-19 era.

As more marketers experience the power of data, they want to embrace it more fully across advertising channels. Through The Trade Desk, they can measure and compare the performance of ad spots across the digital advertising spectrum, whether it’s streaming TV, audio, web, podcasts, etc., and report ROI in granular terms back to the CFO.

Q. The future of digital advertising is cookie-less. How are you helping your clients prepare for that?

The end of cookies is great news for the open internet. This is the time for the industry to create a new and better alternative to cookies - one that centers on consumer privacy and control.

The Trade Desk has designed a solution from the consumer’s perspective that replaces cookies, upgrades privacy and control for consumers, while preserving the value of relevant advertising for advertisers and publishers. Unified ID 2.0 is a new industry-wide approach to internet identity that is an upgraded alternative to third-party cookies.

Importantly, Unified ID 2.0 operates across advertising channels including mobile, audio, browsers, OTT/TV apps and devices with a single ID. This is critical as marketers and publishers look to understand their audience across platforms, while creating a better standard that gives consumers greater transparency and control.

Q. Tejinder, now that The Trade Desk is officially launching in India, what would be some of your focus areas?

As General Manager of The Trade Desk, India, I will be responsible for leading the India Operations with a focus on building monetization strategies, monitoring country growth and implementing new initiatives. In addition to executing The Trade Desk’s vision, I will be working to foster teams and building the culture from the ground up in India. In addition to this, I will also be responsible for strengthening The Trade Desk’s global client and partner relations, shaping India’s product strategy and driving effective engagement across the industry.

Q. You've expanded a platform's presence in another country during a global pandemic. What kind of challenges did you face in this process? What is your vision for The Trade Desk in India? Where do you want to see it by the end of this year?

We have always built our business based on the core principles of objectivity and transparency, and it’s that trust we have with advertisers – to always do what’s right for the industry, even if not always in our direct immediate interest – that has seen us continue to grow.

With our launch in India, we are fully committed to the business, and while the on-ground situation is fluid, we are focusing on building awareness and early adoption. Our long-term vision is to create a scalable open platform of choice for digital marketers. The focus is to educate the market about the fast-growing opportunities on the open internet which includes channels like OTT/CTV, audio streaming and online press. The success for us by the end of year is to build a solid team on the ground to serve our customers, build a transparent ecosystem across agencies, partners and advertisers, and help marketers take data-driven decisions to better business outcomes.

Q. What are some of the trends that you are expecting to see in programmatic advertising this year? What is the future of programmatic advertising?

Now more than ever, marketers are being more deliberate and data-driven with every advertising dollar, and as a result, they are gravitating to the advertising opportunities on the open internet. Programmatic, therefore, becomes all the more important in streamlining the ad buying process, serving more relevant ads, and delivering greater return on spends.

Programmatic spending has witnessed a rise from 26% in 2018 to 39% in 2020. While overall programmatic spending stood at Rs 3,014 crore in 2018, it quickly rose to Rs 6,610 crore in 2020. Studies also indicate that the industry would increasingly change to programmatic media buying over the next few years, with a market share of almost 74% by 2022.

Programmatic media buying gives advertisers increased flexibility and more control over their creatives and optimization capacities. The ultimate result is a more scalable way of serving ads that people are more likely to click. The next wave of programmatic advertising will be towards decisioning rather than fixed price buying.