From detecting and blocking ad frauds to ensuring brand safe environments for advertisers to better optimise their campaigns, Integral Ad Science has made strides in the adtech space. A digital verification and media quality company, IAS technology allows advertisers to scale their ads in the digital as well as the connected TV space. In conversation with BrandWagon Online, Saurabh Khattar, commercial lead – India, and Laura Quigley, senior vice president – APAC, talk about contextual advertising, programmatic, and CTV’s future in India. (Edited Excerpts)
As per your report, Indian consumers are extremely receptive to contextual ads. What has been the translation into sales that brands have noticed?
Saurabh Khattar: We are talking about digital space when it comes to contextual ads. While the technology has existed for decades, it has gone from retro to revolutionary in recent years. With all the privacy laws that have come into play now such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) along with the cookie deprecation, contextual ads have become one of the most important targetted advertising tools for the marketers. We have developed cognitive semantic technology which reads the page just like a human brain and tries to understand the sentiments of the page. The algorithm analyses the emotions of the site/page and determines if the content has positive, negative or neutral sentiments. We go through all the verbs, adverbs, nouns, humors, and cultures to understand this, and accordingly we can determine what is the meaning of the page and where a brand should target and avoid segments. By deploying sentiments, the positive, negative, neutral, we are enabling advertisers to have more scale.This is our technology for the digital space as well as for connected TV (CTV).
What is new in programmatic?
Saurabh Khattar: India is a very nascent market in terms of digital. A lot of companies globally in the US and Europe have moved to programmatic already. A lot of our clients’ 50% ad budgets are allocated to programmatic. What has emerged as new in programmatic in brand safety and contextual. A lot of brands are talking about engagement metrics. They want to understand how their audience is reacting. Brands want to see metrics such as time spent, views, scroll rate, among others. So that’s also one new thing that’s coming within programmatic. As for India, programmatic is growing and will become big. A lot of brands are now starting to increase their digital ad spends budgets from 10% to programmatic to 40%. In fact, there are brands who have started diverting 30-40% of their digital ad spends towards programmatic while they were not investing in the space at all last year.
How do you go about curbing ad frauds?
Saurabh Khattar: There are nearly 20 types of ad frauds which take place on the digital platform from bot clicks to domain spoofing. It is important for brands to understand where the fraud is coming from. Through our technology, we can give brands a report on where the ad fraud is coming from and what type of ad fraud it is so that they can optimise the campaigns in a better manner. We share granular reports with brands on domain level/page level and relay fraud percentage which enable them to block the fraud. We have our own fraud lab to identify fraud and ethical hackers to reverse engineer the new types of frauds and create new solutions.
What is your client base like? Which sectors opt more for verification?
Saurabh Khattar: In the past year, we have seen a 30-40% rise in our clientele. Our clients are mostly multinational companies such as Coca-Cola, Johnson and Johnson, GaskoSmithKline (GSK). What we have seen in India is that companies associate IAS with return-on-investment (ROI). We have seen a lot of Indian startup brands showing interest in what we do and have started considering this as their brand hygiene factor.
Where do you see the market of CTV going in India and how do you see it evolve?
Laura Quigley: If we looked 18 months ago, the tragedy of covid brought about more video consumption. This trend probably accelerated CTV in the Indian market along with other markets. While I can’t put a number on the growth of CTV in India, I do think that we will probably see video overtaking display. And I think we’ll see it in different forms as well. We talked about CTV but I also think we’ll see a rise in investment in short form video as well. What is really interesting about CTV is retention. The biggest shift, and the biggest change is how marketers think about ROI when it comes to video.
What is the metric system designed when it comes to CTV and ROI?
Laura Quigley: So in CTV, the metric is on the basis of reach. Beyond this, engagement metrics is also a goal for advertisers. There are traditional metrics such as quartile completion data, view through rate, completion rates as well. But where it will get interesting is those engagement metrics such as sound on, sound off. These are indicative ideas of engagement.
How do you see the Indian adtech and martech market evolving?
Laura Quigley: For me, the biggest opportunity and biggest shift is around programmatic. It has been growing and evolving globally and there is an opportunity for expansion and automation around that. We expect a rise in ad verification. Currently, there are few local brands that use verification, but I predict it’s going to exponentially grow as well. I think there will be more awareness around areas like fraud.