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Tuesday, 11 July 2017 00:00

Mukundu Kumaran, Founder and CEO C1X

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.


Somany Ceramics Signs On Ogilvy & Mather as Its Advertising Agency

Somany Ceramics Limited, the leading player in the Indian ceramics industry, recently awarded its advertising mandate to the global advertising and marketing giant Ogilvy & Mather. The pitch was initiated a month ago where six other major advertising agencies also participated. The estimated advertising budget for Somany Ceramics for FY17-18 is 3 to 3.5% of the revenue. Ogilvy & Mather will manage Somany Ceramic Limited’s operations from their Gurgaon office and the mandate consists of the brand’s diverse product portfolio.

Commenting on the association, Mr. Abhishek Somany, MD, Somany Ceramics Limited, commented,” We are interested in exploring newer ways of targeting specific groups therefore, it became essential for us to collaborate with an agency who understand the dynamic media environment. Ogilvy & Mather comes with a fresh and progressive approach which will help us to focus on developing advertising and marketing campaigns to engage consumers with our products and brands.”

He further added,” To stay a youthful and trendy brand and expand our business and product portfolio, we need a partner and support team that understands how the brand communicates to the consumers in new and existing geographies.”

Speaking on the win, Chandana Agarwal, Managing Partner, Ogilvy & Mather “Somany is responsible for launching many firsts in the Indian Tile Industry. Innovation has clearly been at the heart of what they do and we see a great match of values between the two organisations. We are extremely excited about this partnership and look forward to creating some memorable work”.

Somany Ceramics has been a prominent name as a homegrown enterprise in the Indian corporate landscape since its inception almost five decades ago. They ventured into sanitaryware segment in FY 2011-12 and have recently trebled their sanitaryware production capacity from 3.03 lakh pieces per annum to up to 11.50 lakh pieces. The company has a robust distribution network with over 1,800 dealers and 12,000 touch points across India and plans to open 200 additional franchisee showrooms and experience centers by the end of FY 2017-18.

Omnicom Health Group and Illumina will host a provocative session showcasing the power of the human genome and the information it generates. Genomic medicine promises to transform healthcare and create personalized medical care targeted to each individual’s unique genetic makeup.

This dynamic presentation explores leading edge innovations and advancements in genomics and their influence on future healthcare communications. Genomics, which is at the center of personalized medicine, provides solutions by linking diagnostics and therapeutics with two of healthcare’s biggest problems - with the goal of driving new discoveries in cancer and rare disease.

Presenters Jo Ann Saitta, Chief Digital Officer for Omnicom Health Group, and Paula Dowdy, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Illumina, Europe, Middle East, and Africa will take to the stage to present “Getting to Genome You – The Potential Power of Personalized Medicine” at the annual Lions Health Festival in Cannes, France on June 17th from 12:00-12:45PM.

Saitta will deliver insights and observations on cutting edge digital health trends.

“Genomic medicine is a rapidly evolving medical discipline,” said Saitta. “The technologies have advanced, and what was once a vision for the future 15 years ago, is now becoming a reality. This acceleration is a result of the progress in technology and the ability to assess and analyze data in a much more precise way.”

Dowdy will share compelling genomic medicine stories that demonstrate the powerful intersection of advanced technologies, data and creativity. She currently leads Commercial Operations in EMEA for Illumina, and was part of the senior team behind the launch of the new sequencing system, NovaSeqTM. Illumina was named 3rd Smartest Company by MIT Technology Review in 2016.

“As a company committed to improving human health, we are delighted to be participating in Cannes Lions Health this year,” said Dowdy. “We believe passionately in unlocking the power of the genome to transform healthcare, and the festival reflects one of our key programs to connect genomics to the everyday lives of those living with cancer and rare diseases.”

“Lions Health brings together professionals from across the healthcare communications field. The festival is the perfect venue to ignite awareness around the topic of genomics. As technology and healthcare converge, healthcare communicators who are responsible for all facets of the care continuum will benefit from this knowledge that is changing the field of medicine and bringing a new dimension to our work on behalf of clients,” added Saitta.

Attendees will be inspired by the profound advancements that are taking place in genomics, as well as the impact that it is having on individualized therapies for a myriad of diseases. Presenters will provide data via case studies, videos and information gleaned from large-scale genomic initiatives launched by experts at the forefront of genomics.

For more information on “Getting to Genome You – The Potential Power of Personalized Medicine” taking place on Saturday, June 17, 12:00-12:45PM at the Inspiration Stage at Cannes, please visit: https://www.canneslions.com/festival/events-scheduled#/?activeDay=17%20June&activeFestival=Lions%20Health&event=14-20046

Amazon today announced an exclusive long-term content deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution which brings the biggest, latest and most popular movies and TV shows from the Warner Bros. repertoire to Amazon Prime members in India. Amazon Prime Video will now be the exclusive subscription screening home to some of the latest movies like Sully, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, The Conjuring 2, Lights Out along with evergreen titles like Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, Annabelle, Into the Storm to name a few. Apart from the movie library, hundreds of popular hit TV shows like Lethal Weapon, Supernatural, Blindspot, The Last Ship, 2 Broke Girls, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and more are also available at the same time as their US premiere to Prime members. The deal also includes the hit comedy, Two and a Half Men, which concluded its 12-season run in 2015.

Nitesh Kripalani, Director and Country Head, Amazon Prime Video India, said, “Amazon is thrilled to announce this groundbreaking deal with Warner Bros. International that adds some of the most in demand and searched movies and TV shows to our latest and exclusive content selection to Prime customers. With top TV shows soon after their US broadcast and classic ever-green movies and TV shows from the Warner Bros. studio, our Prime Video customers will see even further value in the Prime membership.”

"We are pleased that subscribers of Amazon Prime in India will have on-demand access to these high-quality films and first-rate television series." added Jeffrey Schlesinger, President, Warner Bros Worldwide Television Distribution. "We look forward to continuing to supply Amazon with our great content in India as we do in many other countries around the world."

To watch these and other new release Hollywood and Bollywood movies, US TV shows, kids’ programming and Amazon Originals, please visit www.PrimeVideo.com or download the Amazon Prime Video app today and sign-up for a 30-day free trial of Prime membership.

Our roles as marketer’s will be recast in the future as the inevitable technological forces, such as AI, will completely revolutionize the way we buy, work, learn and communicate, said media agency PHD India at the Predestination session held on June 1st at Zee Melt 2017 organised by Kyoorius. PHD emphasized that as marketers, we need to shift focus to brand ideas where scalability means millions of personalized messages delivered simultaneously using algorithms and as such technology will help to transform the future and not make us fearful.

PHD’s Predestination series - a result of a collaboration with the author, visionary, provocateur and Wired founder Kevin Kelly (and author of The Inevitable) to understand the technological forces shaping our future - explores the ubiquity of technologies such as AI that are taking us towards a Predestined destination, brimming with opportunities but equally disruptive and challenging.

PHD’s session was introduced by its India MD, Jyoti Bansal, who gave an overview of the trends -

cognifying, flowing, filtering and remixing - with a focus on how brands are actively exploring and engaging with them to deliver innovation and the topic was actively debated through a panel discussion featuring Arnab Goswami, Founder Republic TV, Raghav Bahl, Founder & Chairman at Quintillion Media, Samir Bangara, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Qyuki and moderated by Kel Hook, PHD APAC’s Regional Head of Global Account Management. The panellists debated if technology would make us dumb, killing our aptitude to question, or would it force us to be more creative and critical in our thinking.

The key takeaways:

1.Cognifying and Flowing -Technology is enabling companies to become smarter and access more and more data every day to evolve the way they develop their products and services. Brands are now embracing this future and understand that technology and data will open new opportunities and ideas.

2.Filtering and Remixing - Digital technology is changing the way Indian audiences respond to content. As time with mobile screens continues to increase, there is the need for brands & agencies to be able to deliver content and messages in real time. This challenges us to think more about what our audiences need and what they are seeking for.

3.Growth in Digital - Brands and agencies run the risk of underestimating the size and scale of India’s digital audience. It’s time for companies and brands to move into digital channels to cater to the existing audience who fall into the age group of 15 – 35 yrs.
Raghav Bahl mentioned how the new age of data is causing over-certainty, which could lead to us operating in echo-chambers, something marketers and media professionals need to be cautious about.

Arnab Goswami, who announced the launch of virtual reality journalism in Republic at the panel, emphasized that technology should not take over decision-making as the onus should be on human intuition leading change.

Samir Bangara spoke about how Qyuki is using filtering and remixing to leverage trends to gain insights for a mass audience and how technology will help consumers find what they need at a quicker rate.

Jyoti Bansal added, “Technology will only further help to enhance the marketing function; however, creativity will always remain at the core. The value of compelling,engaging and relevant content will only get bigger in this new age that is dawning on us.”

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