MUMBAI: Digital advertising expenditure in India may not yet reach the levels of other countries but the quality of work can surpass that done elsewhere a leading industry figure has said.

Martin Shaw, Digital Head (APAC) at media agency Maxus, told exchange4media that while India was broadly on a par with the rest of the world, "some of the work happening here, especially in the social media space is more advanced than what we have seen in other countries".

"It is definitely a place for us to come and learn from," he added.

The recently announced shortlist for the Warc Prize for Social Strategy adds weight to those comments, with entries from India (7) ranking alongside those from the US (8) and the UK (6). The full list can be seen on the Prize website (subscribers can also view the complete papers).

Observing the fragmented digital space, Shaw said marketing needed to adopt a more holistic approach "where you understand all the levers".

"Agencies that work in silos are not able to do that," he said, which made it harder for them to deliver the sort of solutions that a more integrated agency was capable of.

But that should not mean dulling creativity. He favoured "a strong network of local agencies rather than achieving conformity", with digital heads meeting regularly to discuss the best ideas and initiatives they had undertaken in their respective countries.

Shaw also expected programmatic buying to make major advances in India in 2014 and he rejected the notion this involved low-quality inventory bought off exchanges. It was, he said, about "high-quality inventory after applying interesting data sets and real-time bidding techniques so we can deliver hyper-targeted audiences that are right for the clients".

He was encouraged by the flow of better data to help evaluate audiences. "I see that making a huge difference and development especially this year in India," he declared.

Data sourced from exchange4media; additional content by Warc staff