What makes India a curious market for online advertising and tech company MediaDonuts? Jim Kramp, Co-founder and Managing Partner, MediaDonuts and Vidhu Sagar, Managing Director, India answer that question and many more during a candid chat with Tasmayee Laha Roy
Digital advertising has hit its stride globally. From e-commerce players to traditional marketers, everyone has gone the digital way to tell their brand story to the consumer. Helping brands tell their tale better, online advertising and technology company MediaDonuts thinks India is a curious market, quite different from the others they operate in, both within APAC and beyond it in Europe and North America.
With its extensive technology stack - 103 ad exchanges with over 2500 private deals, six DSPs and over eight SDK partner integrations - MediaDonuts has been able to execute some of the most sophisticated digital media strategies that help advertisers achieve their business objectives.
Here are excerpts from our conversation with Jim Kramp, Co-founder and Managing Partner, MediaDonuts and Vidhu Sagar, Managing Director India.
Q] What brings you to India? Is there any new development here at MediaDonuts?
Kramp: Well, these are exciting times at MediaDonuts across all our 12 locations worldwide, but particularly in India, it’s almost like a new beginning. I say that because while we’ve been in the Indian market for upwards of five years now, we seem to be cracking the code finally, and that too by almost reinventing ourselves. India was one of the earliest markets we expanded to once MediaDonuts began in Belgium in 2010. We’ve always seen huge promise in India and have invested in the market with technology, people and all other resources. Now, it’s almost like a version 2.0 for us here.
So far, we were focusing on being a data-driven, digital planning and buying agency with full stack of technologies, including robust programmatic capabilities. We’ve been working with clients directly as well as with a variety of small and medium-sized agencies, supporting them with tools, technologies, insights and solutions across a plethora of categories very successfully. Now, we’ve expanded our range of services to include the media representation business too, which is almost like forward integration for us. Here, we’re official resellers for premium inventories from much-loved apps like Candy Crush and Call of Duty in the gaming genre plus the hottest dating app globally – Tinder. We’re also partnering the giant-killer video app TikTok in its monetisation efforts across the market. So, it’s a much more diverse and value-enriched basket of offerings from us now.
To manage growth and streamline operations, we have also restructured our company recently. We’re quite confident that our new Managing Director for the India market, Vidhu, with his rich, unique, cross-media experience, would be driving the next phase of growth for MediaDonuts in India.
Q] Tell us about the journey so far for MediaDonuts. What’s been the learnings and values from the India market?
Kramp: India, in our experience, has been a very curious market, quite different from the others that we operate in – within APAC as also Europe and North America. It’s a very competitive market and has always pushed us to innovate and optimise, wherever possible. While it may not necessarily be ahead of the curve strictly in matters of new developments digitally, but it’s very quickly there as soon as the world spots a new discovery. Whether it’s voice now or AI earliere, bots or blockchain, etc., whatever is on the bleeding edge of digital technology, India pounces on it hastily. With its tech prowess and strong talent base, India has also been the hub of our MediaDonuts APAC ad ops unit for long; thus it’s a key value centre for us.
In terms of size and business volume too, we all know the massive potential here. So far, we think that we’ve just scratched the surface. MediaDonuts has just opened its offices in two new locations of Delhi and Bangalore and we’re exploring a few other possibilities too. Vidhu and his fast-growing team have taken charge of the entire market, and particularly the reseller part of our business is looking to grow exponentially soon. There are big brands and advertisers who’ve shown tremendous interest in unique offerings like Candy Crush and Tinder.
Q] In terms of technology and digital expertise, what are your strengths? How do you see the Media Representation part of your business dove-tailing into it?
Kramp: MediaDonuts has been extremely strong on the digital technology front right from the word go. While the world was still waking up to the magic of SEM, Display and Social Media, we were already on to the programmatic technologies. Our proprietary Square One platform uses multiple global DSPs to deliver unmatched media solutions, aided by location intelligence and cross-device targeting. Again, in these times of heightened concerns regarding wasted exposures and lack of attribution, we have been championing the cause of holistic targeting by use of consumer ID-based planning which can bypass cross-device problems, and we can even connect it with offline sales. We can see who we show ads to and who we don’t show ads to, and then match the sales back. Similarly, in terms of viewability and quality of reach, MediaDonuts has always been rated far higher than others by the rigorous standards of IAS too. In
fact, our analytics across Asian markets has proven that we deliver twice as much value as the rest without affecting CPM.
Sagar: To your other question, the extension of reseller part of our business can be seen as us completing the loop in a way. On the one hand, we use differentiated tools and technologies to go bull’s-eye on our target audience most precisely, and on the other, through our vastly popular apps, we help brands connect with the highly engaged audiences in the most effective manner directly. With our unique, dual service portfolio, it’s almost as if a science-focused hospital has set up a retail pharmacy chain too, which would help deliver the fruits of digital discovery to the last mile audience, seamlessly.
Q] How do you see the digital media business evolving over the next five years? Where would you want to see MediaDonuts position itself in
Kramp: The overall industry is located at an interesting cusp right now. The old model is certainly out, and the new one is emerging. The exact contours of this new reality are not too clear at the moment. Lean back media has decidedly given way to lean-in media formats. Within digital too, there is an unending process of evolution. Unified consumer IDs, voice tech, AI/ML, bots, blockchain, video, vernacular…everything’s happening together.
Sagar: In parallel, consumer purchase journeys are changing. Longer decision journeys are crashing and turning circular. Media options are proliferating, consumers are faced with immense choice, there’s fragmentation all around. Brands need both push messaging as well as content that can be pulled. But most importantly, in this melee of alphanumeric cacophony, we must recognise that Digital is not a silo any more. It’s something that’s embedded into everything that you do. Seamlessly integrating everything. Yet, concurrently, severe challenges abound. In terms of viewability, ad blockers, ad fraud and so on. But we at MediaDonuts are quite confident that as a flag-bearer of intelligent, result-oriented, platform-agnostic digital delivery, our holistic and optimised solutions would forever keep us a step ahead of the world.
Q] Who do you see as your core competition in the business? How do you differentiate yourself?
Kramp: Without sounding arrogant or imperious, I’d say MediaDonuts is uniquely placed. Quite like what we said earlier in terms of our hospital and pharmacy chain analogy, there’s hardly anyone else who offers the duality, the balance that we offer. There’s data science on one side, aided by world’s best technologies, and on the other, there’s the unique charm and appeal of user platforms that are differentiated and sticky. So, MediaDonuts is equally adept at strategizing, buying and executing omni-channel campaigns that enable advertisers to achieve their branding or performance goals, most scientifically. At the same time, we are uniquely qualified to deliver cohesive, potent and exceedingly valuable audience cohorts that promise immediate as well as