Ad land’s Young Guns: Vijay Ramkumar, Founder, Automatad Inc

A driven and result-oriented young entrepreneur, Vijay Ramkumar, Founder of Automatad, Inc, is making waves in the ad tech industry at the age of just 26. 

Ramkumar started his journey in ad tech in 2012 with Hoverr Media, which then evolved to Automatad, Inc, which provides monetisation solutions to publishers across the globe. He spearheads the Business development efforts at Automatad, Inc and has bagged over 100 digital publishers (which includes some of the big names like Indian Express, Deccan Herald , Bollywood Hungama, etc.) in a short span of time. 

What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Vijay Ramkumar in his own words... 

How did you get into the role you are serving?
I was always passionate about doing something on my own and ad tech was just picking up in India at that point. I saw an opportunity for me to provide publishers in India with more advanced monetisation solutions and help them drive the best revenue. Now, we are working with some of the renowned publishers in India and we are expanding into the international market. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
I think I am good with numbers and in ad tech, we have to be on top of our numbers. We must know exactly how our ads are performing and we are in a constant correction or optimisation mode at all times. Also, I believe I’m good at follow through. 

How did Automatad come about?
During the initial few years, we experimented with both the buy side and the sell side of the ad tech ecosystem. Apart from Google, Facebook and more recently Amazon, there are thousands of companies vying to be part of the chain. We realised that publishers are generally not very tech savvy and are taken advantage of, many a times. We felt that it’d be good to have an unbiased partner for the publisher, whose primary objective would be to increase their monetization capabilities. Our success lies in the success of our publisher partners. Every employee at Automatad understands this and is always looking at ways to optimise for the same. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
I like Brian O’Kelley of AppNexus for his role in creating AppNexus, which brought about a healthy competition in an otherwise two-sided industry (Google/FB). 

I also like Jonah Paretti and Jon Steinberg for having brought about the meteoric rise of Buzzfeed. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?
At 3 am, I check the revenue reports. (This generally defines my day!) 

I’m an early riser since I am most productive in the morning, I try to get a lot of work done in the first half of the day. I am up by 6 am and I’m at office by 9 am. I try to catch up on the latest news in the ad tech industry. 

I then skim through my to-dos (I generally have a “looong” list of things to do), prioritise the most important tasks and plan the rest of my day. I mostly have a brunch. I follow up with some of our clients and ensure that there are no glitches from our end. 

And though it would seem like a cliche, I believe that we should conserve our energies for important decisions and not spend time on making insignificant decisions, such as what clothes to wear. More often than not, you’d see me in a grey T-shirt and jeans. 

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
The confluence of technology and advertising has, in my opinion, unlimited potential. We have to understand that most of the internet/ online content ecosystem is possible because of advertising. Imagine if all sources of online information had to be paid for to access. It would have gravely stalled the progress of the society. Internet and its open ecosystem has been largely responsible for keeping information open and freely accessible to all. Hence, I believe that advertising definitely provides a very viable career option. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
In the context of internet/ online advertising, one has to be on his toes and adapt to constant changes. Newer monetisation models, growing list of competitors, fraud, the ability to balance utility and privacy concerns … The list goes on. One, who is able to wade through such a dynamic set of challenges, will surely succeed. I will share a secret. Most companies look to optimising for the short term. A dollar more earned the better is what they feel. However, I believe that success lies in understanding the ecosystem deeply and providing solutions which optimise for the long term. 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
As I said before, think long term. There are so many areas that warrant better and scalable solutions. No company, including the biggies, is infallible. Innovate and develop good solutions, work on building good relationships and see where you go. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
At Automatad, we have built products and solutions that have helped publishers optimise their workflows and monetisation. I would like to have made some significant contribution in developing some core solutions, something that changes the paradigm. My team and I are exploring some core tech, which have the potential to change the way monetisation is achieved. 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
Buzzfeed and Cheddar, Inc! I would love to collaborate with them and have them as our publisher partners. I love how they innovate, I am sure we would make an excellent team together.

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