Launched in 2013, SonyLIV is an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service owned by Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited. They provide premium video-on-demand content and live sports to millions of Indian viewers via their website, app, and YouTube channel. In 2018, SonyLIV was India’s official mobile and internet broadcaster for the FIFA World Cup.
Choosing the right business model for growth
Video consumption in India has increased significantly over the last year, offering SonyLIV a valuable opportunity to boost its revenue. To take full advantage of this rapid growth, the company decided to monetize more of its content through advertising by building an ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) platform. But first, they needed to select the right technology partner for this sweeping initiative — a partner whose technology could scale over time and support large events like live sports and concerts.
Building an effective tech stack
By the fall of 2017, Google had emerged as the ideal match for SonyLIV’s needs and goals. Their unified ad platform, Google Ad Manager, offers an end-to-end solution for seamless, scalable ad serving. It gives publishers one central place for delivering a wide variety of ad formats, including display and video, to their sites and apps. It also includes advanced forecasting to help predict future inventory and real-time revenue optimization to make the most out of every ad impression.
“We are primarily an AVOD business, and seamless ad serving is the most critical component of our tech stack,” explains Amogh Dusad, Head of Content, Partnerships & News Initiatives, SonyLIV. “Ad delivery, scalability, and measurement are the fundamentals of an AVOD business. Google Ad Manager was our product of choice for ramping up on this.”
SonyLIV used key Ad Manager capabilities, including using rules to determine when, where, and how long ads played during a session; interactive video ads; and reporting on ad viewability. They also used Programmatic Guaranteed to reserve premium inventory.
“By working with Google, we’re able to offer advertisers more of the choices they want on SonyLIV’s platform,” says Rajiv Singh, Head of Ad Sales & Monetization. “This enables us to onboard new brands while experiencing the benefits of Programmatic Guaranteed deals, including operational efficiency and a seamless collection process.”
Scaling monetization for a rapidly growing audience
Since partnering with Google, SonyLIV has benefited from the efficiency and convenience of a consolidated and integrated technology stack that seamlessly serves all of their ad formats to any type of screen or device. Ad Manager has also enabled SonyLIV to scale their ad delivery platform to higher levels than ever before, achieving 500 percent growth in peak ad impressions per day. On a live match day, for example, the company delivered an unprecedented 72 million ad impressions.
Advertisers are happy with the programmatic AVOD platform as well. Mondelez India Foods Pvt. Ltd. (part of global packaged foods brand Mondelez International) was an early adopter of programmatic on SonyLIV. As Anjali Krishnan, Senior Media Manager for Mondelez notes, “India is one of our key markets, and programmatic has become pivotal to our deployment. SonyLIV is the first OTT platform to collaborate with us to drive efficient incremental reach. This collaboration has only grown stronger year over year while still adhering to the stringent qualitative parameters set globally by Mondelez.”
Furthermore, the migration has driven significant growth of Programmatic Guaranteed revenue, which has grown 3X in 2018 from 2017. Expanded access to programmatic buying has improved customer satisfaction, helping SonyLIV use rich insights to customize campaigns and develop creative solutions for brands.