The state of programmatic in India – all things you must know.

Archaeologists claim that the earliest billboards were used during Egyptian times. Flyposting was practised in Europe as early as the 15th century, mini billboards, one could say. However, it was in the 1830s that Jared Bell placed the first billboard for a modern circus. This marked the beginning of OOH in modern times. 

Wouldn’t such a timeline make OOH the first mass media format, well,  I leave the answer to you?

Before you get curious why I am writing about the past in an article meant for something as advanced as programmatic…

 It is important to gain a sense of history before we talk about the contemporary or, dare I say get in the business of prediction. The trajectories of the past, if observed carefully could very well be the guidelines for the future.

OOH Programmatic and India

Now before we get gung ho and scream jai ho, allow me the burden of being a joy killer. India doesn’t have programmatic yet in its true sense. But we have begun the journey and are on our way.

What we have now is automation, which itself adds considerable value to the system. Increases efficiencies, possibly, and I say possibly at the moment, helps with better transparency.

For a system to qualify as programmatic in the true sense, we need to have this elusive thing called RTB or real-time buying. That my friends we do not have.

But only yet.

Real-time buying is a thing where an audience is served to the platform with some degree of understanding of the audience, and advertisers bid to show their ads to the audience. All happening within a fraction of a second.

I may have oversimplified the process, but you get the drift.

Why we don’t have RTB

Because we don’t have the data and the ecosystem yet, hope you have noticed  I continue to use ‘yet’.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am super optimistic about OOH and Programmatic in India. However, we must know the real state of things to realise where the journey is currently and where we need to head.

What is the role of data in Programmatic

Real-Time Bidding (RTB) in programmatic advertising depends heavily on data. To maximise ad relevance and effectiveness, RTB uses data collecting and analysis to guide bidding decisions.

What type of data?

User data: Information about the demographics, interests, and behaviours of individual users, which is used to target relevant ads.

Device data: Information about the device used to view the ad, including its type, operating system, and location.

Inventory data: Information about the ad space being sold, including the format, size, and placement of the ad.

Historical data: Information about past bidding and performance data, which is used to inform future bidding decisions.

The worth of each impression is calculated using data gathered by various tracking technologies, which are then analysed by computers to guide real-time bidding decisions. RTB can raise the effectiveness of advertising and increase its relevance by using data to target relevant ads, which benefits both advertisers and publishers.

What is the ecosystem required for RTB?

So here is a list of key factors that need to be present to make RTB possible. Allow me to share a brief summary. 

Real-Time Bidding (RTB) in programmatic advertising requires the following components:

Demand-side platform (DSP): A platform that allows advertisers to purchase ad impressions in real-time through RTB auctions.

Supply-side platform (SSP): A platform that allows publishers to sell their ad inventory to multiple buyers through RTB auctions.

Ad exchanges: A marketplace that connects DSPs and SSPs to facilitate real-time bidding.

Ad servers: Technology that serves and tracks ads and collects data to inform future bidding decisions.

Bidding algorithms: Automated systems that use data and algorithms to determine the bid price for each impression in real time.

Data: Information about users, devices, and ad inventory used by DSPs and SSPs to inform bidding decisions.

Payment systems: Payment solutions that facilitate funds transfer between buyers and sellers.

So when will we have it

Change is inevitable, but the speed of change depends on many aspects. We need to take into account the economic benefit, government policy, infrastructure,  early adopters and so on.

While I do not doubt that Programmatic, in the real sense, is set to work in India, there is still much to be done.

What could you do to make an impact? I say begin by getting educated on the subject. This is why I am passionate about my company Glocal Bridge as driving education about all things OOH and Programmatic is a key area we work on.

Thanks for reading

You can reach out to me at 

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