“The great accelerator,” Covid-19 has fast-tracked companies and individuals toward digitization beyond everyone’s imagination. While individuals have rapidly embraced new behavior, from online education to virtual fitness classes, they have also discovered new entertainment platforms beyond traditional social media channels. According to PwC, India is the fastest-growing OTT market in the world and is expected to have more than 500 million online video subscribers by 2023. In the meantime, brands have been confronted with the mammoth task of rethinking their marketing strategy on the fly with an aim to engage with their audience wherever they are.
While the year has been challenging, we witnessed renewed optimism as Diwali broke the 10-year record and generated business to the tune of ₹1.25 lakh crore, according to the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). The recent surge in consumer spending coupled with rapid Covid-19 vaccination will set us up for an exciting 2022. We review the year with learnings from India’s digital revolution and key trends to watch in the new year.
Critical real-time decisioning takes precedence
Faced with the reality that restrictions and market conditions could change at lighting speed, brands turned to programmatic advertising. This offered them the flexibility to take full control and leverage every data point available to purchase each impression based on its value relative to their short and long-term business objectives. Marketers can launch and pause campaigns in real-time; scale spending up or down at will; and swap creatives on the fly. Nimble companies fared better than others because they were able to adapt their businesses, pivot their messaging, and appeal to consumers even as their lives witnessed unprecedented disruption and change.
The pandemic has fast-forwarded the adoption of programmatic advertising in India as marketers realize the need to be more flexible and agile in a world where everything can change in a minute.
Earlier this year, some brands adopted “moment marketing” tactics. There would have been no need for “moment marketing” had their digital advertising plans been flexible and agile. In fact, the whole conversation on moment marketing underlines the need for marketers to approach data-driven advertising instead of resorting to attention-seeking tactics or immediacy. Programmatic advertising can, for instance, help brands double down on ad support when a sports game goes into overtime or serve creative ads dynamically when nail-biting events happen.
Connected TV is the next growth frontier
2021 represents the year where we began scratching the surface of TV’s transformation and what it means for advertising. According to a recent Mediasmart India CTV Report 2021, almost 70 percent of Indians now spend one to four hours on connected TV (CTV) and CTV consumption has increased by 31 percent over the past year. Moving forward, it will become increasingly difficult to predict who will watch which show or which “live” sports event. This means that linear viewership commitments are harder to predict as it is no longer about reaching an audience at a certain time on a certain show.
CTV advertising enables brands to apply data to their massive TV campaigns in a way that’s simply not possible with linear. While linear TV allows advertisers to target viewers only at a broad demographic level, CTV enables brands to apply data-driven insights to target specific audience segments based on their interests and preferences.
Now that TV sets have proven they’re not going anywhere, there’s no question of the immense opportunity that CTV, one of the fastest-growing channels in digital marketing, holds in 2022.
Connecting advertising more directly with business outcomes
Marketers have traditionally relied on KPIs such as CPMs, CPAs, and click-through rates to measure campaign performance. But these traditional KPIs don’t adequately reflect business growth goals. The pandemic has sharpened the focus on advertising measurement and underlined the importance of connecting campaign performance to real-world outcomes. This will gain even greater momentum next year as more marketers expect clearer ROIs in the form of in-store and online sales to store visits and brand perception.
Furthermore, as we emerge from the pandemic, brands will need to re-assess their measurement approach in a “phygital” environment as consumers move between online and offline. The Trade Desk’s recent industry-first collaboration with Lifesight, a customer intelligence company specializing in location-based measurement, enables marketers to measure how their campaigns drive in-store visits to complement other online campaign metrics. By leveraging location data insights, they can optimize campaigns on the go and use campaign insights to inform spend allocation and shape media strategies to drive better business outcomes.
Cookieless future is bright
2021 has been a rollercoaster ride for the cookie. While the ride may last a little longer than originally thought, the good news is that, as an industry, we now have a lot more clarity on what a cookieless future will look like.
New industry-wide identity solutions such as Unified ID 2.0 operate outside of the walled gardens and rely on consumer email logins to create identifiers. Unified ID 2.0 helps advertisers target their audiences with precision while enabling brands to measure and compare different ad opportunities and, in turn, manage advertising frequency across channels and devices.
This is the best time for brands to re-evaluate their strategies for the cookieless world. While third-party cookies are set to go away in 2023, brands have some time to understand the different identity solutions available and work with a trusted technology partner to test new approaches for leveraging data in a post-cookie world. Importantly, they have the opportunity to build consented, first-party relationships with consumers. After all, why “borrow” third-party data when you can build your very own?
This article is authored by Tejinder Gill, General Manager, The Trade Desk.