‘In one year, not a single advertiser refused to buy programmatically’

Truecaller took the radical step of going completely programmatic with the launch of its in-app advertising platform. One year since the launch, Truecaller app advertising has registered a 300% growth. Tejinder Gill, Vice President Sales & India Operations, Truecaller, tells IMPACT why going completely programmatic was a great idea


Q] Truecaller went 100% programmatic last year. How has it been so far?

Programmatic was one of the three options we were looking at. We took a 30-day window and met the leadership teams of a few top agencies in the country along with 10 marketers and also partners like Google, who have been evangelizing programmatic. We realized that there was no other in-app player in the market that is 100% programmatic. We also realized that most of the top agencies have separate programmatic teams in place, a sign that the market is moving towards programmatic. Looking at the benefits of programmatic, from a publisher’s point of view, we were getting better yield, which meant we could maximize our inventory and get more dollars per inventory, per CPM, which was the first biggest advantage. Secondly, you get guaranteed deals through programmatic. Thirdly, the operational efficiency is very high. Currently, we have one person running the show nationally. On an average, we book around 30 deals in a month. Also, cash flow is an important part of our business, and so is getting timely payments. Programmatic gets all these aspects right. You don’t need to worry about billing or reporting.


Q] Why has India’s uptake of programmatic been so slack?

I would not say it’s slow, it’s all about evangelization. In the past 10-20 years, there was display, then came social media which was followed by mobile. Now there is mobile plus programmatic. The next few years will probably get better. The only challenge is the lack of education. Bu once they get into it, they start enjoying it. Programmatic gives you better control while finalizing the target audience. Through programmatic, one can target any device in the world, as long as it is connected to the Internet. You can bring in tons of optimizations, get better insights, change details by the hour, depending on what is working and what is not.


Q] Are advertisers opening up to the idea of programmatic?

Yes. Around 70% of our customers in the last one year are repeat customers. This happened because of two reasons – firstly, they are getting value out of the product and secondly, they are happy with the execution piece. The top 150-200 advertisers in the country are ready to experiment with programmatic.


Q] Being a publisher yourself, what are you doing to give programmatic a push?

Globally, we hire talent from the best companies. Our global ad operations head is a former Google employee and was part of the team that worked on DSP and DBM four years ago. Now he is the person who trains our people. We just hired our second ad operations person and sent him to Stockholm to get trained. We ask our teams to attend all the courses that are available on DSP and DBM. We push them once to spend 30-45 minutes once a week on the modules to keep them up to date.


Q] How do you see the future of programmatic play out in India?

In the past one year, we have not found a single advertiser who has refused to buy programmatically. Whenever a new wave starts, the first year is a little shaky when people are still trying to figure out whether something will work. Overall, some guidance will help people getting more excited. The ecosystem has to be evangelized by publishers, marketers and agencies. I am fully programmatic and almost 90% marketers want to buy programmatically. The 10% who are not yet there are willing to learn and try. Slowly, it is this 10% that will keep moving the bar up and bringing more people into the ecosystem.