Self-declaration mandate throws programmatic advertisers into disarray

The industry scrambles for solutions as new regulations threaten efficiency

Khushi Keswani
Updated On
New Update
Listen to this article
0.75x 1x 1.5x
00:00 / 00:00

New Delhi: Amid the confusion surrounding the latest self-declaration mandate announced by the Supreme Court, advertisers are scrambling to find alternatives and solutions. Industry experts and agencies have voiced strong opposition, but a clear path forward has yet to emerge.

Programmatic advertisers are among the most affected by the SDC norms, urging regulatory bodies to reconsider the mandate. Programmatic advertising utilises automation to streamline the process of buying and selling ad space online. However, a recent regulation—the self-declaration mandate for advertisers—has cast a shadow over this process, according to industry experts.

The self-declaration mandate, even though well-intentioned, introduces a significant hurdle in this fast-paced environment. Advertisers are now required to submit a document confirming that their ad adheres to all advertising regulations. This process often involves data checks to verify claims and ensure compliance.

Siddharth Devnani, Co-Founder and Director, SoCheers, feels that since the nature of “programmatic advertising often requires submitting a high volume of creative assets even for small campaigns,” it can hamper small-scale businesses. “The large number of ad units” becomes hard to address, and it generates “potentially lower agency margins per creative unit.”

“If the campaign is on a large scale, then this is still understandable, but for smaller or time-sensitive campaigns, the burden of compliance with the system is more than the campaign itself!” he explained.

Not just this, but there are also “discussions ongoing between the advertisers and agencies to figure out who is ultimately responsible for submitting the SDC.”

Additionally, advertisers specify their budget for the campaign. Behind the scenes, complex algorithms take centre stage. These algorithms analyse vast troves of data, including demographics, browsing behaviour, and past interactions, to identify the most relevant websites and apps to place the advertiser's message. This data-driven approach ensures that the ad reaches the most receptive viewers, maximising the return on the advertiser's investment. 

Rohan Shah, co-founder of Realatte Digital Marketing Agency, believes that collaboration between regulators, advertisers, and ad tech providers is essential to crafting effective policies that enhance transparency without stifling the efficiency and competitiveness of programmatic advertising.

He added, “Moreover, small to medium-sized advertisers may struggle disproportionately with compliance compared to larger firms, potentially skewing competition. The industry may see a trend towards consolidation among ad tech providers capable of integrating compliance solutions, or the rise of specialised services to facilitate adaptation to regulatory changes.”

Now that the industry is expected to live with the new SDC mandate, Chaaya Baradhwaaj, Founder and MD of BC Web Wise, suggested two ways to make life a bit easier for programmatic advertisers. 

  • Streamlined Pre-approval Processes: Developing a system where certain pre-approved creative assets can be used within programmatic campaigns could expedite approvals.
  • Focus on Transparency Tools: Technologies that automatically verify ad content against established guidelines could be explored as alternatives to manual SDCs.

The recent MIB meeting with industry bodies on the SDC mandate heard concerns ranging from programmatic advertising getting hampered to glitches on the official portals. 

Even though initiatives are being taken to make the integration of the mandate smooth, such as through Social Pill’s GPT tool, the slow rate of applicants isn't good news. The Supreme Court hearing is yet to take place on July 9, but the MIB has requested a compilation of all the complaints so that it can be presented to the Court.