“It is important to understand that in today’s complex and proliferated World Wide Web, getting to the right audience at the right time becomes the most important aspect .That is when you can claim to reach out to an audience when they are receptive. This whole process actually looks easy but complicated technically given you have multiple stakeholders within your stack, your publisher partners, your advertiser partners, your large DSP partners, ATDs etc; all of the mentioned have to be on the right time at the right place to ensure you have a process that is fully fool proof when it comes to intelligent buying. Platform like ours makes that possible.” Said Mukundu Kumaran, Founder and CEO C1X.
In an interview with MediAvataar India, Mukundu takes us on an insightful ride within the programmatic world. He answered question on various technical aspects of what all marketers are thinking and should adapt in order to make their life much straightforward and effortless digitally.
Here is the complete Q&A…..
MediAvataar: What made you start this venture in the first place?
Mukundu: I have been in the adtech space for over 10 years and prior to that in the CRM and Data ecosystem addressing some of the complex problems the industry was facing. With that experience on hand I thought there is a lot of problem solving opportunities in the adtech space which remained unanswered.
Thanks to my experience at Yahoo! where I was driving both product and engineering for Yahoo’s adtech offerings. During this period the complexity was constantly developing and not much had evolved in addressing the core aspects of the marketing community, which in today’s world attributed to data to make smart decisions in their advertising spends. I had to answer a few questions around these, which is when I realized the importance of transparency and audience discovery. These two points directly impacted smart decision making for marketers and I decided to focus on building a platform that had all aspects of the ecosystem covered in one roof, which is a very difficult thing to do.
With that as my bullets, I built my gun to shoot.
Given I knew data would address the audience discovery side of the problem, I decided to focus on bringing price efficiency as my core weapon to bridge the transparency issue. With that our offerings were born in 2014.
MediAvataar: What do you think is the USP of C1X and various platforms developed under it?
Mukundu: With the two core aspects addressed within the product my third vision of ease of use had to come up front. This is a key constituent in the mix given marketers are not technologists and if they had to become one then they needed to put in use a platform that had all the elements of technology and marketing embedded in one. So it became paramount that we built a UI that was super friendly and ensured even a peon in office could carry out instructions during emergencies.
With that we built our ease of use mantra into the front end of the stack and I believe that is a big USP today given you could build a great product but getting something great and not put to use would have been miserable. So today we have a great product and testimony is the number of marketers who use our products globally. We today address over 1000 brands globally.
MediAvataar: What it takes to facilitate intelligent buying?
Mukundu: You what we have built, that I have answered in the first two questions every aspect of intelligence gets addressed and therefore I can confidently say today that our platform enables intelligent buying.
Outside of that, it is important to understand that in today’s complex and proliferated World Wide Web getting to the right audience at the right time becomes the most important aspect that is when you can claim to reach out to an audience when they are receptive. This whole process actually looks easy but complicated technically given you have multiple stakeholders within your stack, your publisher partners, your advertiser partners, your large DSP partners, ATDs etc; all of the mentioned have to be on the right time at the right place to ensure you have a process that is fully fool proof when it comes to intelligent buying.
Platform like ours makes that possible.
MediAvataar: What drives you to take the business to the next level, product wise?
Mukundu: Innovation is a constant, it’s like life. One has to constantly look at innovating what is on the offer and on the table that particular day. Imitation is easy but to be one step ahead we have to constantly innovate and improve. So I am constantly working with my data and product teams on how we could innovate within or partner externally to bring in what would be break through offering for the advertising fraternity, sometimes even offline advertising fraternity. We already work with the largest holding company on some of their offline efforts and that’s where my energy is focused on.
To that effect we have launched a seller side solution for our ecommerce partners and have already some of the biggest names in the world like Shopclues and Zaastra in India and South Africa and announcing another 10 partners in the next quarter.
On the advertising front we are launching the world’s first SSP focusing on the fly contextual capabilities, which is 99.99% accurate and is disruptive in nature given that we will have over 350000 categories addressed and in over 20 languages in the first phase of our launch, which is on beta as we speak.
MediAvataar: Why do you think demand-side platform is the need of the hour?
Mukundu: I am not saying DSP is the need of the hour, I am saying that transparency, audience discovery and ease of use, is the need of the hour.
DSP is just one side of it, we can do the same on the SSP side too so neither of these are the need of the hour. Need of the hour are those three magical words which we have in our one stack offering that would remove the pain points from a marketer’s daily life when it comes to spends on digital advertising.
MediAvataar: How technology is transforming when it comes to programmatic and the way modern marketers should think?
Mukundu: How do you think all the above issues are getting sorted? It is only because of technology that these are getting sorted, right? Automation reduces costs and increases efficiency. And if that is brought into action in digital advertising then you get what you are seeing, which is programmatic advertising however when you see everything that gets addressed on a single stack then that is magic and we are producing magic on a daily basis with our offerings and modern marketers want magic.
It’s like how in today’s world pilots only monitor the plane and the actual flying is done by computers, right? That is how an A380 flies, fully automated and absolutely safe. Marketers are like pilots, they have to be on the seat to look at everything that is happening but the automation is the real hero unless you have some serious issues on automation and the pilots/marketers take over the controls, which is next to never in most cases.
MediAvataar: SPs, DSPs, ad exchanges and trading desks all working together to serve ads in an RTB environment, it is easy to lose sight on how all the pieces fit together. How do you keep it focused and still fragmented?
Mukundu: You never lose sight, which is why engineering writes such lovely codes on products that are detailed out. Without knowing the process how can you automate? That’s what is known as understanding the eco-system end to end, which is why it is very difficult to build something like what we have built and I am lucky to have a team that actually understands the entire ecosystem end to end and that is how we are able to address all the stake holders you have mentioned flawlessly on a single platform.
MediAvataar: Tell us more about Real Time Bidding (RTB).
Mukundu: Real Time Bidding is a process where buying and selling of online ad impressions through real-time auctions, occurs in the time it takes a webpage to load. Those auctions are often facilitated by adexchanges or supply side platforms.
MediAvataar: How the role of an entrepreneur changed the way you used to look at things professionally?
Mukundu: I continue to look at things professionally. You cannot mess around with a vision and when you have 15M$ that people have bet on your venture, everything becomes professional automatically, you are not only answerable to the ecosystem but also to the growing number of employees and above all your investors. So everything an entrepreneur deals with in his daily way of life on the professional front is mature, collected and focused.
MediAVataar: What is your vision for your company/product in five years to come?
Mukundu: First is to become the next unicorn in the adtech space. I don’t know what will happen in five years but our immediate goal is to expand into Australia, China and Europe in the next 12 months and in the next 24 months fully stabilize our offerings across board and in the next 36 months hit a top line of a billion dollars globally.
I will probably think of what we should do in our 60th month when we are in our 24th.