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Interview of the week | Understanding Programmatic Marketing with John Thankamony, Head- Programmatic, Mindshare

John Thankamony, Head- Programmatic, Mindshare

Driving the programmatic adoption and embracing of programmatic tools by its clients, John Thankamony heads the Programmatic division of a leading global media agency network- Mindshare. With billings in excess of US$31.4 billion, the network consists of more than 7,000 employees, in 116 offices across 86 countries spread throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.

Development of FAST (Future Adaptive Specialist Teams), setting guidelines to work with partners, harnessing data and technology products to drive performance and business results for clients are some of the things that John takes care of at Mindshare.


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Being into the business of data and utilizing it to keep the clients engaged, we thought it to be a right opportunity to interact with John and know more about programmatic, how is Mindshare utilizing it, trends in analytics industry and much more. Here is the detailed interview of John with Analytics India Magazine.

Analytics India Magazine: How important is programmatic in the evolution of marketing industry?

John Thankamony: Technology usage to improve and better industries and personal lives has taken a steep rise since the inception of internet. Programmatic looks to improve and address challenges in the advertising and marketing domain by using technology. This becomes critical as audiences get increasingly fragmented with audiences themselves becoming very diverse. It is the next step in the evolution curve for media. While it started primarily for internet based advertising, it is being adopted in other media such as TV and OOH. The end goal is to be able to buy audiences from a single source of data at maximum efficiency.

AIM: How does Mindshare use programmatic advertising in its marketing strategy?

JT: Data and analytics are central to how media has been planned and bought at Mindshare for a long time.[quote]With additional data that programmatic brings into the equation, we have invested in building infrastructure and training to ensure our planners are equipped with the right data and tools to plan.[/quote] A key part of this is the Loop process, where our teams analyse search, social and other data to understand cultural aspects to be embedded. This is combined with online behaviour and becomes the base for understanding how to reach the right audiences at the right places. This is then activated through the programmatic arm of our Future Adaptive Specialist Teams (FAST).

AIM: When it comes to harnessing the power of data, how is Mindshare using programmatic for the same?

JT: Mindshare works in an open source manner to get the best solutions by working together. A lot of this comes down to the partnerships we have whether within the WPP ecosystem or through external partners. We are working on driving a single view of the end user, whether the data is online or offline. This becomes critical in India where there is still a large group of users who are not sending digital signals that can be used for audience creation. The end goal is to have an enriched single view of the user which can be used to drive better targeting to be used for programmatic. Programmatic also provides a lot of output and outcome, and this is continuously analysed and fed back into improving the understanding of audiences and their interaction with media.

AIM: What do you think of the future of programmatic? What new innovations are happening in this space?

JT: A lot has been said about the internet of things and how this will increase audience information. While we haven’t seen this completely play out, there is a quiet revolution happening. This will over a time allow us to understand audiences in more real life scenarios. This along with mobile and personalisation will be the tipping point, as brands will be able to engage in scaled conversations with their consumers via programmatic. There has been some interesting consolidation in the ad tech and marketing tech space in the last couple of years to help enable this.

AIM: How has Programmatic evolved in past few years?

JT: Programmatic has been around for a while as far as the technologies go. While it started as a way to pick up remnant inventory, it has evolved multi fold in terms of sophistication. [quote]There has been an increase in the amount of data available for targeting as well as the richness of this data.[/quote] With increasing adoption, inventory has increased, with publishers moving more inventory to be bought programmatically, with some even going 100% programmatic. This has led to an increase in creative formats available for buying. This along with the evolution has led to a number of large brands to move over 70% of their media to ensure efficiency and better insight.

AIM: Do you face any significant challenges in utilizing the data the right way? or Do you see challenges in Programmatic?

JT: Acceptance of new technology and patience to understand that there will be time and change in process involved to adopt this. Marketers should also focus on defining the outcomes that they need clearly and early, and plan programmatic adoption along with their annual media and tech requirement, while having quarterly assessments on shifts in targeting and measurement. An ecosystem challenge is data blindness, where insufficient or too much data or a combination of the two lead to incorrect readings and usage. Having a holistic test and learn process, with outcomes being measured, becomes critical to the success of programmatic and media in general.

AIM: What are key trends you see in the analytics industry in general?

JT: People, Platforms, Pace. I think the key trend which has started in the media industry in India this year is the increase in people in the analytics space. Having people who can understand media, data and analytics is key to data led solution and this is still a rare combination. Adoption of streamlining data into platforms, thus destroying silos, will pick up as it is key to have data in one place to understand all aspects of it. The analysis and more importantly application of data will have to have shorter turnaround times to show impact on business.

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Srishti Deoras
Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.

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