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As a part of our #Outlook16 series, we asked online advertising companies – Tyroo, InMobi, Vizury and Vserv about their focus areas for 2016, and the challenges that the sector needs to address. Answers have been lightly edited for brevity.

What were the top developments in the online advertising segment in 2015? How has the sector changed from 2014 to 2015?

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

– Native ads, video ads have changed the formats in digital advertising (Desktop and Mobile).
– Targeting based on behavioral data and user analytics has made it more precise than before. This is impacting the ROI of advertisers in big way.
– One of the biggest breakthroughs in the online and mobile advertising space is the introduction of “viewable impression” technology.

Dippak Khurana, Vserv

– Mobile Advertising was driven by App Installs
– Native Advertising began to gain momentum

Arun Pattabhiraman, InMobi

– Location based advertising is seeing massive adoption today. Combining location with contextual content has boosted ad performance significantly.
– Massive adoption of programmatic advertisements.

Shiju Mathew

Shiju Mathew

Shiju Mathew, Vizury

– Mobile app contributed to 79% of the sales in 2015 as compared to a 37% the previous year.
– Brands transitioned from downloads to engagements on Mobile app.
– Cross device advertising gained more importance as brands still continued to invest on desktop web advertising.

What were the biggest challenges for the sector in 2015?

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

– International publishers reaching out to Indian advertisers directly rather than via local networks
– High per day volume expectation at very low install rate for installs by brands

Dippak Khurana, Vserv

For marketers: Biggest challenge was in terms of marketers having to decide on whether to go app only or have a mobile web + mobile app presence.

For publishers: Pricing pressure because of sudden excessive supply (app publishers) and market maturity not being there, it created short term pressure.

Arun Pattabhiraman, InMobi

In a world where mobile web still contributes a significant share, translating this to in-app conversions and measuring performance of networks was a key challenge this year. With most attribution partners taking numerous measures, this debate has largely settled down now, hopefully for good.

What trends surprised you in 2015?

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

– Metrics for evaluating campaign performance has evolved very quickly in mobile as compared to desktop.
– Brands have given post install KPI parameters like registrations/loyalty/retention/ARPU etc. which was not the case in 2014.

Arun Pattabhiraman, InMobi

Some of this data is from the InMobi network:

– China surpassed the US to become the #1 app destination of the world
– m-Commerce app installs grew by over 100% in one quarter
– Emerging economies are driving e-commerce growth (such as India, Indonesia etc)
– The sudden spurt in the number of apps and developers in the industry

Shiju Mathew, Vizury

– The growth of mobile apps- quite a number of brands went app only in mid 2015.
– The significance given to data-driven marketing by most leading brands- the speed at which this was adopted.
– The impact of offline data on online marketing and vice versa and brands taking steps toward it.

What were your key learnings in 2015?

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

Integration for post install events with tracking platforms is the key to run app install campaigns as no brand needs just an install but want user to engage with the app post install it in their phone.

Arun Pattabhiraman, InMobi

– Prioritize product curation to not overwhelm customers
– Mobile still holds immense untapped potential
– Emphasize on rich content delivery to ensure best user experience

What likely trends do you expect to see in 2016? Why?

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

As India is a mobile first country, there is no denying the fact that most of this growth will come through mobile. Here are the mobile marketing trends that will define the industry in 2016:

– Advertisers will focus on driving actual product discovery and move away from their strategy to grab just random eyeballs for their products.
– More e-commerce players will open up their own inventory for advertisement through programmatic/bidding system

. Throughout 2016, we will see the trend of e-retailers, brands across domains like OTA, classifieds etc. opening up their platforms for their own merchants and other brands in order to grow GMVs and control losses.

Dippak Khurana

Dippak Khurana

Dippak Khurana, Vserv

– Smarter data, sharper results
– ‘Apptimization’ is coming
– Re-emergence of ‘Mobile Web’
– ‘Mobile’ becomes the new ‘TV’
– More power to programmatic media buying

Arun Pattabhiraman, InMobi

Retailers, e-commerce and mobile first merchants will be trying to engage users more, not just inside their own app, but outside as well.

Shiju Mathew, Vizury

2016 will be a smart spending year for mobile marketers. Brands will recognize that doing Paid & Free channels separately is grossly inefficient and hence will synchronize paid + free channels.

What sectors are likely to be the key drivers of growth for the online advertising sector in 2016? Why?

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

Given the fact that India is the hot bed of digital only/digital first businesses currently we will see more contribution from sectors like e-commerce, services commerce (on-demand economy), content & streaming services and Telco (OEM) and telecom service providers.

Dippak Khurana, Vserv

– Consumer Internet Companies ranging from Retail, Food, Travel, Auto, etc. More categories are expected to emerge and once that happens, everything else will be a distant #2.
– Categories like Telecom, Auto, FMCG and BFSI would be leading the deck within everything else.

Arun Pattabhiraman, InMobi

E-commerce companies will be key drivers of growth for online advertising sector. App developers who facilitate online-to-offline services across food delivery, groceries and hyperlocal services will also boom with their specific focus on mobile.

What platforms are likely to be the key drivers of growth for the online advertising sector in 2016? Why?

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

From an India perspective, mobile as a medium and social as a platform is going to drive the next level of growth. Since mobile is a single user device and it provides deeper connectivity with the end user for any business along with far higher penetration than desktops and broadband it is going to drive faster growth. From a platform perspective, social will play a pivotal role since everything is moving towards developing sharing economies of different sizes.

Dippak Khurana, Vserv

Today, mobile is a major disruptor with 70% of social media traffic also coming from mobile. Additionally, we will see other key growth drivers of the mobile advertising sector in 2016.
They include –
– Video will have the highest growth in 2016, given that in 2015 it got a good kickstart.
– Content discovery is the next category which will do well.
– Native will continue to scale fast and display will hold its absolute dollar share.

Arun Pattabhiraman, InMobi

Video and social platforms have both seen enormous traction already, largely driven by the mobile platform itself. While social networks will continue to change the user experience through auto-play, pre-roll and gif formats, there is enough scope for innovation through more rich & curated user experiences. Mobile will be the biggest lever in 2016 as all advertisers continue to explore the power of the device more and look to leverage it better for more bang for the buck. Emerging markets will see parameters like handset type, network connectivity and screen sizes becoming significant factors in this boom.

Shiju Mathew, Vizury

Social and mobile will play a major role. Mobile apps have been dominating consistently in 2015. With personalised targeting and ROI driven advertising on app, mobile advertising is going to be more one to one than ever before.

What trends did you observe in local language digital ads in 2015? How has it changed since 2014? What are your expectations in 2016?

Sumit Kumar

Sumit Kumar

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

Lot of solutions in the ecosystem are now available to deliver communication in local/vernacular language, especially a display only solution like a digital banner. As we know that the next level of growth for any business is going to come from hundreds of smaller cities and towns spread across India, local language communication becomes very important. We have experienced this over last one year and in fact we also developed our platform to support ads in multiple Indian and foreign languages.

Dippak Khurana, Vserv

When it comes to digital ad spends in local languages, not much has changed. I hope 2016 will start seeing traction for language. The problem is app-ification of local language content is yet to come into play. I have not seen great local language apps across categories, however E-commerce will be the first to jump to local language.

Arun Pattabhiraman, InMobi

No particular data that points out the growth, but it’s evident to us that local language digital ads will go a long way in helping us deliver a better experience to users.

Shiju Mathew, Vizury

Industries like real estate and other offline dominated tier 2 advertisers find it more relevant when compared to huge brands

How big a problem are ad-blockers for the digital advertising industry? What changes will it bring about in the industry in 2016?

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

It’s not an India specific problem. This is an iOS specific issue and India is a market where Android has 90% penetration. Thus, we don’t think it is going to have any significance for India market.

Dippak Khurana, Vserv

I believe that Indian consumers find ads informative and like to see them, however when asked they don’t like accepting this fact. It is good that ad-blocking as a tool is available now, this will make publishers more responsible in terms of ad-placements. However, I don’t see it impacting India in 2016.

Arun Pattabhiraman

Arun Pattabhiraman

Arun Pattabhiraman, InMobi

Obtrusive and spammy ads will definitely be blocked by ad blockers. But these ads are the creation of ad tech companies aimed at carpet-bombing the customer with the objective of earning per impression rather than per conversion. Native ads, in-app ads and other high quality un-obtrusive ads remain unaffected by the ad blocker growth.

Shiju Mathew, Vizury

It isn’t. With ad blockers, personalisation will dominate advertising. With relevant content reaching the right audience, they don’t feel hassled. Data will be put to better use.

What are the challenges that need to be addressed in 2016? Please explain how can these be addressed.

Sumit Kumar, Tyroo

– No systematic/standardized metrics used to measure the ROI for the advertisers especially in the mobile domain. Unfortunately sometimes app owners also don’t know what metrics are critical for the health of their business, in turn the advertising partners also tend to get confused and do not deliver well.
– Presence of too many players and layers in the ecosystem with little clarity on platforms/networks value propositions is a great challenge for present day advertisers.
– Entry of foreign players (solution providers) in the Indian market is not good news for Indian players certainly, most of Indian players have started realizing the same after second half of 2015 when foreign solution providers started entering India in a big way.

Dippak Khurana, Vserv

– Convert TV advertisers to mobile advertisers.
– Focus on marketing solutions which offer scale, rather than new emerging trends in mobile ads.

Shiju Mathew, Vizury

Advertisers will adapt towards native inventory. They will also migrate to audiences from impressions thus paving way to more data led marketing instead of spray and pray impression marketing.

Image Credit: David Collins under CC BY SA 2.0