Somewhere in the mid 80’s at an award ceremony, a young man was eagerly waiting for the announcer to be called onto the stage. As the announcer invited him to the stage, the crowd erupted in applause. The applause only got louder as the young man reached the stage.

Seated in the front row veteran actor Ashok Kumar had never heard of this young man. Out of his sheer curiosity, he asked Mahesh Bhatt seated next to him “Who is this young boy?” Mahesh replied, “He is a television actor, Rajesh Puri one of the key characters of television serial Hum Log.” Ashok replied, “My god I have been in this business for 60 years, and I have never got a standing ovation like this young boy got.”

Ashok like most of his peers in 80’s had just discovered the awesome power of television. With television, our hopes and aspirations grew. For the first time, the common man had a window to the world outside of his own. Television moved from analogue to digital, broadcast to unicast in next 35 years. All this while something remained unchanged – the way ad slots are bought and sold in this country.

Programmatic TV

Traditional TV buying model creates endless paperwork including endless spreadsheets, emails and not mention the regular follow-ups offline. Programmatic TV applies digital advertising’s efficiency models to TV advertising. Programmatic TV makes the entire buying and selling process better, simpler and faster.

Programmatic TV can be defined as an automated data-driven method for buying and delivering ads against TV content.

Sky launched the SkyAdSmart platform to allow advertisers to buy ad spots in real-time via their application in 2014. The platform has so far recorded 1,130 advertisers with 7,635 campaigns. The platform will enable advertisers to choose particular audience based on hundreds of criteria to reach the best possible audience.

Programmatic TV: India Opportunity

Programmatic TV is undoubtedly the next step towards the evolution of TV advertising in India.  Worldwide TV advertising volume is about $220 billion, which is about 40% of the total ad spending. The share of programmatic TV advertising in the overall TV ad spend is expected to grow to $17.3 billion by 2019, as per IDC reports.

The challenges for India when it comes to Programmatic TV remain the same when it comes to becoming a fully scalable offering.


Typically 50%+ of the premium inventory is sold upfront to advertisers in pre-committed contracts.  This leaves the spot, scatter and syndicate markets for potential programmatic transactions, which need to be aggregated to drive significant reach against target audiences. For larger advertisers, the absence of inventory in primetime could mean they will prefer the traditional buying model.


Limited inventory and high sell rates allow publishers to keep costs relatively high and maintain control of how ads are sold. Since programmatic is often associated with cheap — fairly or otherwise — networks are unsure of how this will affect their CPM rates, sales channel conflicts and revenue projections. Which results in only a few networks making their ad inventory available programmatically.


Programmatic is still at a nascent stage, and TV networks have had little incentive for technological innovation in their ad sales process. The majority of TV buying infrastructure has significant limitations in automation of ad delivery from advertisers to users TV screens.

There is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of advantage for brands to get involved in this space, but further down the line, programmatic TV is a distinct possibility. In TV and outdoor, programmatic will start moving into those spaces as video on TV starts growing; stitching that together is another opportunity for marketers. The challenge is, how one makes sure that they are staying ahead of the competition and doing the best in a multi-channel world — programmatic is the best way to get that edge.                         – Matt Brocklehurst, Platforms Marketing Lead, APAC, Google

The contribution of Smart TV to overall sales was just about 18-20% last year. With the explosion in OTT (over-the-top) content services and availability of VoD (video on demand) content platforms, users are bound to move to Smart TV in the near future.

Media planners, brand managers and channel executives have to be reskilled and educated on the value created by the Programmatic TV buying and selling process.


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