Performance Marketing

Performance marketing in India: How to differentiate in a unique market

Becky Doles

performance marketing in india

India is a unique market in the performance marketing world, and TUNE is proud to have been an integral part since the early days. Over the past five-plus years, we’ve watched the market progress — first with hyper-growth in spending from enormous amounts of funding, followed by an increase in rationalization which has led to its own set of challenges. In this blog post, we’ll look at a few things that make the Indian performance market so unique, then dive into the secret sauce to being successful on a consistent basis in the Indian market.

7 ways the Indian performance marketing industry is unique

  • Plenty of funding: In 2016, Indian startups saw $4 billion of funding spread across 1,000+ deals. This is much lower than the heyday of 2015, where $9 billion was invested in a single year, but it still points to a lot of action in the market.
  • A vibrant adtech ecosystem: India has never had a paucity of intellectual capacity and resources. Many adtech startups were founded by folks who’ve come back from the U.S. and E.U. since the mid 2000s. While not all of these startups  have gone on to be hugely successful, the influx of talent built a massive base of employees who have worked on platforms and technologies that are perfectly in sync for performance marketing. If you look at the graphic below, India probably has a few homegrown players for almost each of the categories.

performance marketing in india

  • Leadership in key trends: Because of the two factors discussed above, India has been a leader in international trends in performance marketing, whether it be leveraging programmatic, remarketing, or driving installs with strong KPIs.
  • A competitive market: This great mix of funding has resulted in a robust advertiser mix and teams that understand and excel at performance marketing — coupled with the ever present Indian entrepreneurial spirit. This gave birth to a very large number of players offering similar services, resulting in competition at every level.
  • A low technology barrier: India is one of HasOffers’ top markets, both by revenue and number of clients. Since the platform offers all that someone in the performance marketing ecosystem needs to get started, this has resulted in hundreds of new and existing players leveraging the technology to stand out.
  • A mobile-first market: We have a great homegrown market to play in! India has 1 billion mobile subscribers, blazing growth in smartphone sales, and about 10% of total app installs globally, making it an amazing base to build on.
  • Challenges with fraud: India is #2 on the Global Click Fraud Index for mobile app installs, which is challenging and puts a dark cloud over performance marketing in India.

Now that we’ve seen some of the major factors which make India special from a performance marketing standpoint, let’s look at how business operating in this environment can strive for long term success.

How to differentiate yourself in the Indian performance marketing industry

A performance marketer can differentiate on the basis of the following:

    • Great and unique supply
    • Large and exclusive demand
    • A platform which delivers scale and quality at a competitive price
    • Amazing service

Ultimately, performance marketers should build on their strength in any (or all) of the above. Whichever you choose, remember to consider:

  • At any point in time, there are 25-30 large to medium campaigns in a performance marketing system. These bring in the majority of the revenue, but their popularity is going to make sure that all of your competition has them as well (or is working towards acquiring them).
  • The same applies on the supply side as well. The easiest approach may be working with the largest publishers and networks, but the question one has to ask is, “How stable is this supply?” And, “What is there to guarantee that this supply will be available forever?”
  • Performance marketers have to always be on the lookout for niche opportunities, e.g. smaller advertisers and publishers who are looking at support and help in getting started. The ramp-up period here might be more, but this is usually a big differentiator to build on.

Questions performance marketers in India should consider  

As a performance marketing company in India looking to differentiate, one should consider the following questions:

On standing out to advertisers

  • Are we providing a differentiated enough offering from our competitors?
  • Are we giving them custom and interesting insights?
  • Are we giving them the right analytics and data about their campaigns?
  • Are we offering them greater transparency?

On standing out to publishers

  • Are we offering the best margins?
  • Are we looking at them as a long-term partner, or are we trying to make the maximum margins for ourselves?
  • Are we offering valuable insights on how they can send more relevant traffic (which, in turn, translates to more revenue and less wasted traffic)?
  • Are we being transparent with them, passing data about client KPIs so they can optimize?
  • Do we offer them a variety of ways to integrate with us?

On choosing the right technology: Building your own tech stacks vs. out-of-the-box solutions

Lastly, as a company, you need to make the  call on whether you have the product and engineering bandwidth to have a strong and differentiated product offering. Would you be able to dedicate time, money and resources to make sure that your product remains up to date and relevant with the changing times?  

If the answer is no, there are plenty of world-class and cutting-edge platforms that will allow you to  focus on doing business, versus just preparing to do business while rolling out a product. When deciding on a platform, ask yourself:

  • Does it have all the key features you need?
  • Does it have a history of always refreshing the product, and on time?
  • Is there technical and business support for your region?
  • Is there an account management team, with specific people that you can reach out to?
  • Is white labeling available, so that you can change the look, feel, and features of the platform?
  • Are there existing integrations with other key technology players that provide services like fraud management tools, billing and invoicing platforms, publisher payment solutions, and more?
  • Are there features that allow you to differentiate? For example, HasOffers has close to 600 features, which are constantly upgraded and updated. Our 2,000+ clients across the globe use a combination of these features.
  • Do they have a track record of being there for you?
  • Does the platform allow for development on top of it by your developers or third parties? TUNE provides this via the TUNE Marketplace.

Succeeding in India: A final word

The bottom line is that India is an amazing and diverse market, and the constant change makes for a really exciting story for those who are out there to attain success in the field of performance marketing.

I commented earlier about whether there is a secret sauce for success in India. Ultimately, I’d like to close with that answer being that no one thing is going to guarantee success. Rather, it is a combination of how you as a business do some of things we have discussed in unique ways, to make for a profitable and successful business.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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