Interview with Head-of-India, Outbrain – Sandeep Balani

sandip-bilani interviews

” I see Video gaining momentum and expect it to grow even more over the next few years. In our industry, we already do see Video as critical to every media plan”

  • Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)

In my current role, I look after the Outbrain business in India. The company was started in 2006 by our CEO, Yaron Galai, and Co-Founder, Ori Lahav. My journey with Outbrain started in 2015, initially leading their Publisher business development in India, then taking up bigger responsibilities as Head of India.


  • Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?

I see Video gaining momentum and expect it to grow even more over the next few years. In our industry, we already do see Video as critical to every media plan. Specifically, in India we are going to see an explosive growth in digital spends, which are already projected to grow over 30% Y-o-Y in India.

Marketers will also probably start moving budgets to various platforms – away from the duopoly of Google and Facebook.


  • What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?

We will need to see how the evolution of Blockchain technologies can help us in various fields. But I would expect it to be critical for the overall ecosystem to evolve.


  • What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?

A digital-first mindset is critical for CMOs to tackle the challenges and opportunities. The digital ecosystem is constantly changing and evolving so marketing teams need to be constantly up-to-date on new platforms and tools.

In order to develop this mindset, companies need to invest in training from the top level down; and CMOs need to clearly understand the goals and vision of the company, and then get the right team trained and aligned to those goals.


  •  What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

It is a well-known one: my first hour in the morning is very critical to plan and set your goals for the day. Once my key priorities are aligned and planned, my day gets very productive.


  • How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

AI is good for the industry as it will make the industry more efficient, and I’m interested to see which parts of the digital industry it will bring further automation to. We do see a gap in the way users consume content today and AI will change the user behavior in a significant manner.


  • What is the core marketing technology capability of your firm that you bring to a marketer? Where does your product fit in vis-a-vis the customer lifecycle?

Outbrain plays in the space of Native Discovery, and our platform enables marketers to implement Native strategies across different phases of the customer lifecycle, based on their strategic needs. Some of the objectives that marketers can use our platform for include:

  • Getting new customers
  • Retargeting existing customers
  • Driving different messaging to same audience via our Story Sequencing tool
  • Targeting audiences based on their interests via our Interest Targeting option

Basically, we provide the right tools to advertisers to meet their KPIs all the way through the customer funnel.


  • Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?

Video, as I mentioned, is something I’m really excited about. We have recently launched a suite of video solutions that are going to be key drivers of our conversations with marketers. We are really looking forward to getting all top brands live with us in India.


Sandeep Balani is the Head of India for Outbrain, where he is responsible for advancing the market penetration of the entire range of Outbrain’s product portfolio, managing both the Publisher and Advertiser sides of the business.
Prior to taking this position, Balani was Outbrain’s Director of Business Development for Engage in India and focused on securing and strengthening relationships with the region’s most premium publishers. A seasoned digital leader in the publishing and media industry, Balani has more than 12 years' experience as a senior sales executive, having previously worked at Komli Media for nearly five years. He has been with Outbrain for over three years.

Outbrain is the world’s leading premium discovery platform, bringing personalised, relevant online, mobile and video recommendations to audiences while helping publishers understand their audiences through data. Outbrain serves more than 275 billion personalised recommendations, reaching nearly one billion users every month across the globe.
Outbrain's expansion to some of the web's largest global properties is a reflection of its rapid growth and its successful innovations in supporting a new era of digital publishing. Top-tier premium publishers that currently leverage the Outbrain platform include: CNN, ESPN, Time Inc., Fox News, The Guardian, The Telegraph, New York Post, Sky News, TF1, Condé Nast, Bild, Orange, and L'Equipe. Additionally, through its recent acquisition of Zemanta, marketers can now access more than 5,000 additional publishers’ native ad placements through Outbrain Extended Network, as well as programmatically.
Founded in 2006, the company is headquartered in New York with a presence in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Brazil, and Slovenia.
For more information please visit our Website

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