MicroAd leads funding round for Ambient Digital in South East Asia

MicroAd Singapore today announced a Series A investment in Ambient Digital Group aiming to expand market share across South East Asia.

MicroAd will also connect its programmatic ad platform to Ambient Digital’s vast regional supply of inventory – a big win for programmatic ad buyers in South East Asia.

“Along with our rapid expansion in Asia, our partnership with Ambient Digital has been a tremendous success,” said Kentaro Watanabe, CEO of MicroAd Singapore. “Through the investment this time, we are delighted to further strengthen our relationship with Ambient Digital and to contribute to the future growth of this amazing company.”

“Ambient Digital has become the leading Digital Ad Network in SEA by expanding through internal cash flow without the need for outside investment,” said Eric Rosenkranz, Chairman of Ambient Digital. “However, we decided to open up for Series A financing to accelerate our already impressive growth and expand our client service offering. That we were able to secure our funding from a single investor – MicroAd Singapore – shows that the region is embracing our brand of programmatic advertising.”

The funding will be used to further develop the Ambient Digital platform with a key focus around extending data credentials, crucial to delivering against advertiser goals in a largely audience traded future.

Andrew Stephens, CEO of Ambient Digital, said: “MicroAd are executing an aggressive expansion plan and Ambient Digital share their appetite for scaling businesses across SEA. This investment helps us stay on the leading edge of technology in today’s fast moving media landscape. Our goal is always to offer our advertisers new, unique, best-in-class solutions that will help them sell more products. This investment means that we can continue to move our business away from the traditional Ad Network model toward a complete audience buying solution designed for a programmatic age.”

Sources report Ambient Digital plan to partner with a range of ecosystem specialists – global and regional – to bake a data driven approach deeper into their offering. This will include developing a bespoke data platform, moving operations to real time, strengthening brand safety technology, and building solutions for publishers that enable them to optimise yield in a fast moving programmatic future.

MicroAd has been investing substantially in South East Asia recently ahead of projected double digit online advertising market growth. This promises to be a partnership to watch out for.

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MicroAd CEO Discusses Strategy and The Future of Programmatic in APAC

MicroAd’s recently launched supply side platform, MicroAd COMPASS, aims to provide a groundbreaking solution for APAC publishers . Kentaro Watanabe, MicroAd CEO, reveals that their new SSP will support increasing demands in the growing RTB market and optimize publisher revenue. See his full interview with Digital in Asia below.

DIA: As a top performer in the Japanese market, what do you see as the opportunities and challenges expanding across APAC? And what is your core strategy in approaching new markets?

KW: As compared to Japan where the market of programmatic advertising is relatively more mature, most of other APAC countries are still at the early adoption phrases, which happened in Japan about 3 – 4 years ago. The challenge is that most people are still not familiar with or even not aware of the programmatic advertising and we have to enter into the market by educating the market as the fundamental step. Nonetheless, we also see this as a vital opportunity since the market is not saturated yet with only limited number of players at this point as we are aiming to be the market leader in the region.

Our strategy is localization of product to support the different demand in the new markets. In particular, display ad formats such as Click-to-Expand, Pre-roll and other media rich ads are preferred and more popular in Southeast Asia than in Japan, we provide support for various ad formats to cater for the local preference and need.

What’s your take on the buzzword of “Programmatic”? What do you see are the biggest challenges to programmatic?

The term “Programmatic” has been increasingly widespread because of the fundamental shift, the evolution and rapid growth of programmatic advertising. This is especially true in Japan and we also believe that the market trend will also be as drastic in Southeast Asia region.Forcast graph

At MicroAd, we are trying to utilize data more effectively, but not constraint to only online advertising. As we have achieved significant success and market satisfaction for direct-response advertising where the results can be measured by CPA, we are now expanding to provide optimal solutions for branding, e.g. we has just tied up with a shopping-reward card company in Japan to extend our operations streams (more details).

How big a role do you think private marketplaces will play in the future of programmatic?

Private marketplace (PMP) itself is just digitization of trading form. What is critical here is to foster the advertisement value and media value; also, whether the platform providers (SSP, DSP, DMP) are able to create value for this market.

To build a profitable model for media, we think that effective and advanced utilization of data and data visualization of media value to the advertisers are essential. Yet, some publishers are concerned that they may not be able to earn up to the amount that traditional IO could provide, through the programmatic SSP. In this sense, they are using multiple platforms simultaneously to test for the best results; moreover, a few giant publishers are trying to build their own platform.

What do you think about Deal ID?

Deal ID is the standard protocol used for programmatic ad platforms. It is an important piece for publishers to evaluate value of their ad inventories in programmatic trading where market making tends to fall into buyer-centric perspective.

In reality Deal IDs are still in early stage for both advertisers and publishers, and have yet to be fully exploited. There are not many companies utilizing it yet. However, there have been some attempts in this field and we are seeing positive results. We are seeing its growth in 1 – 2 years and we are ready for it.

How does the MicroAd SSP work with the MicroAd DSP? And how else do you connect to buyers?

MicroAd COMPASS, our SSP, is equipped with comprehensive ad management tools for the publishers to maximize their ad revenue. It is connected with our DSP, MicroAd BLADE, which is used by more than 8k advertisers across APAC for effective display ad management and programmatic ad inventory purchases.SSP n DSP

Among our overseas subsidiaries, MicroAd BLADE has been connected with Google Display Network as the main supply of ad inventory. However, as the demand is increasing rapidly, the launch of MicroAd COMPASS is to provide further inventory for the advertisers.

In Japan, MicroAd COMPASS is also connected with other DSPs to offer more advertisements and more competitive prices for the publishers. We are currently under the discussion with the DSP partners regarding the connection for overseas operations and the partnership will be announced subsequently.

Do you see mobile as a separate channel or is it integrated? How do you see the mobile exchange space changing in the next 3 years in APAC?

It is common to hear that mobile user behavior is different from PC and that the mobile usage and advertising are on the rising trend in APAC. We believe that mobile ads market will witness a dramatic growth rate, even surpassing the PC ads.

Our platform integrates the ad management of PC and mobile ads into a single interface, but publishers/advertisers are able to have different settings for different devices.

What is your future focus?

Currently, MicroAd COMPASS is focusing on serving the major publishers, such as news website, E-commerce site, portal sites and so on. Our target is to reach 20 to 30 major publishers in each countries and a total of 200 publishers across the region within 1 year. At this point of time, we have started the SSP service in Vietnam. We will continue to expand into other countries in which we have set up a subsidiary (Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines, India, Singapore, China, Hong Kong).

2014 in Review: Top 5 Digital in Asia Hot Topics

For the latest in our seasonal review series we look at the top 5 topics on DIA over 2014.

We aggregated info across Facebook, Twitter, Slideshare and here on site to understand the topics that were hot over the year.

There aren’t many surprises – our Top 5 Most Engaged Content and Top 5 Articles reviews have already introduced the key themes for 2014. Indonesia, Mobile and Ecommerce were a huge focus, and we expect this to continue into 2015. Interest in Programmatic and Data point to the future of advertising in the region.

One interesting filter is to split the data out by region. When we do this, we clearly see the interest in local markets – Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar – as coming broadly from outside Asia. The interest in channels and general digital knowledge – programmatic, mobile, benchmarking – tends to originate from within Asia.

Our site, then, serves two purposes. A repository of general digital info for those within Asia. And a window into Asia for those outside. We plan to continue to create great content around these two pillars in 2015.

Enjoy our hot topics review of 2014. Here’s to even hotter topics in the year ahead.

1. Programmatic

Programmatic took the top spot. Our series on The New Digital Advertising Ecosystem continued to attract visitors, with articles covering regional high fliers MediaQuark and MicroAd also picking up interest, demonstrating the appetite for programmatic in Asia. 2015 has the potential to be a huge year.

2. Mobile

Was 2014 the year of Mobile? Coverage included the rise of Asia’s mobile messengers and the amazing stats showing half a billion new smartphone users across just China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia in 2014.

3. Ecommerce

Return on investment is key for advertisers, and there is no more immediate return than ecommerce. Content on Ecommerce in Emerging Asia drew visitors over the year. Google’s release of ZMOT for Asia showed advertisers not only how to do online commerce, but also how to use the online for commerce. A much wider and more exciting brief than ecommerce alone.  Finally our ongoing partnership promoting ecommerce excellence with eTail Asia was a hit.

4. Indonesia

2014 was the year the advertising community really woke up to the potential of Indonesia. We updated our coverage in Focus on… Indonesia,  and learned that Indonesia would add 40m smartphone users in 2014. Perhaps most interesting were the projections showing the Indonesia digital advertising market growing at 75% in 2014, predicted to match South Korea at $2.85 billion in digital investment by 2018.

5. South East Asia

Wider coverage of South East Asia proved popular. With 600m people, this relatively undiscovered region from a digital advertising perspective boasts almost 10% of the world’s population, and powerhouses such as Indonesia and Vietnam are pushing the digital envelope. Expect to see more  in 2015 as the IAB in Singapore, headed by up and coming digital executive Miranda Dimopoulos, continues to launch initiatives that boost regional digital marketing. A recent study from PWC showed just how necessary this investment is for the region.

2014 in Review: Top 5 Most Engaged Digital in Asia Content

For the second in our seasonal review we look at our 5 top pieces of engaged content from DIA over 2014. Of course we’ve weighted our rankings so that content posted in November has as much chance as the early starter from January.

Clear themes emerge: Indonesia, Mobile and Social Media are all a focus. Finding benchmarks to understand campaign performance is also important.

1. Jakarta: The Social Media Capital of the World


From Focus on… Indonesia: Digital Landscape part of our Focus on… series covering individual Asian market Digital landscapes.

2. dg MediaMind Digital Adserving Benchmarks

From Digital Benchmarking and Measurement in Asia

3. The Mobile Internet Consumer – Indonesia

From Mobile Marketing in Asia

4.  The Rise of Asia’s Mobile Messengers

From Market Overview: The Rise of Asia’s Mobile Messaging Apps

5. Facebook Ads Benchmark Report

From Digital Benchmarking and Measurement in Asia

Digital in Asia and eTail Asia join forces to promote eCommerce excellence

Digital in Asia is excited to announce an ongoing partnership with eTail Asia, the leading platform in Asia to help online retailers discover, develop and implement strategies to build a successful eCommerce business.

The focus is the eTail Asia 2015 conference, which will be held on 11-12 March 2015 in Singapore and presents a great opportunity for online retailers and marketers to expand their networks, listen to case-studies and interactive discussions, and stay informed on the latest innovation in online business across Asia.

EXCLUSIVE: Digital in Asia followers can get 15% off eTail Asia conference tickets. Please sign up or contact us at info.digitalinasia@gmail.com to receive the code through email.

For more details on the eTail Asia 2015 event, please see below. Also, please stay tuned for our upcoming newsletter showcasing Asian eCommerce case studies and research.

The Asia E-Commerce Conference Made By Retailers For Retailers

eTail Asia is the leading platform in Asia to help online retailers discover, develop and implement strategies that will help build a successful eCommerce business.

eTail Asia is the only event you need to attend to be updated on the trends and growth of innovation and investment in the retailing channel. Our programme is entirely dedicated to help you better understand the online customer’s behaviour and how you can achieve consistent growth and drive conversions.

What’s new in 2015?

  • Over 50 speakers representing the different verticals within the e-commerce industry
  • Meet with over 400 industry participants from Asia’s booming e-commerce space
  • New formats: Join your peers in interactive formats such as Case Study Revolution, Drill-down Roundtables, 1-2-1 Drop In Clinics, Unconference Live! and Boardroom Discussions to have an open discussion about your challenges and strategies to overcome them
  • Streams: The conference agenda will feature focused streams on Mobile, Omni-channel marketing, Customer Experience, E-commerce Support. Pick and choose your stream of your interest.
  • Hear from top VCs on what their criteria are while investing in an e-commerce company

Meet the Advisory Board of E-tail Asia 2015:

Jonathan Yabut Chief Marketing Officer – Air Asia Zest
Max-F Scheichenost Founder & Managing Partner – Alps Ventures
Gary Wheelhouse Chief Digital Officer – Harvey Norman
Tito Costa Managing Director – Zalora
Pawoot Pongvitayapanu Founder & Managing Director – Tarad.com
Dalia Seidner Marketing, Asia-Pacific – Bazaarvoice

ETail Asia have a number of interesting whitepapers to download for free, click here http://bit.ly/1yjPpBv to get your copy.

MicroAd launches SSP aimed at APAC publishers

MicroAd today announced the launch of a new SSP aimed at APAC publishers, named MicroAd COMPASS.

With the largest market share in Japan, MicroAd also serves advertisers with a DSP offering. This is an interesting addition to the APAC supply side landscape following the recent roll out of Pubmatic, and offers another alternative for local publishers to the Google hegemony.

We have a Q&As with Mr. Watanabe, MicroAd CEO, covering the story in more detail. For now, the press release continues below.

MicroAd, Inc. (CEO: Kentaro Watanabe; hereinafter referred to as “MicroAd”), the leading Online Ad Platform company in Japan, today announced the launch of its supply-side platform (SSP), “MicroAd COMPASS”, which enables online publishers to maximize their ad revenue, across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. This marks another fundamental step to extend MicroAd’s successful ad platform model to other APAC countries.

“MicroAd COMPASS” is a programmatic platform for online publishers to monetize their ad inventory and discover new sources of ad revenue. There are currently more than 5,000 publishers in Japan using the platform to manage display ad sales and inventory on both PC and mobile websites. To enable the maximization of ad revenue, “MicroAd COMPASS” has 2 main features:

(1) In addition to the management of direct-sold ad inventory, “MicroAd COMPASS” integrates programmatic selling through its connections with partner DSPs and ad networks. Furthermore, it maximizes publishers’ ad revenue via real-time “Full Flat Auction” that identifies and displays the ad with the highest price on publishers’ website.


(2) Besides, “MicroAd COMPASS” is equipped with comprehensive ad management tools which allow publishers to adjust the upper limit of ad delivery time and amount daily, further utilize the remnant inventory with inventory prediction function, and improve the efficiency in managing both direct-sold, guaranteed ads and programmatic, real-time-bidding ads in a single interface.

“As compared to Japan market where programmatic advertising is relatively more mature, most of the other APAC countries are still in the early adoption phases that publishers are not familiar with or even not aware of the programmatic platforms, and hence, educating the market posses a significant challenge,” said Douke Yasutaka, APAC SSP Director of MicroAd. “Nonetheless, we also see this as a vital opportunity as we are aiming to be the market leader in the region. For the overseas market expansion, we target to reach 20 to 30 major publishers in each country and a total of 200 publishers within 1 year.”

Dedicated to provide optimization solutions for online display advertising, MicroAd is the pioneering ad platform company with the largest market share in Japan, serving both demand and supply sides of ad inventory. It has expanded its presence into other APAC countries and launched its demand-side platform (DSP), MicroAd BLADE, which is currently used by more than 8,000 advertisers across the APAC region. To support the substantial rapid growth of demand in the overseas markets, it now unveils the SSP, “MicroAd COMPASS”, starting from the countries with higher demand, namely Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia and South Korea.


New Advertising and Technology Report covers Data, Programmatic and the Future of the Web

The Economist has just released a special Advertising and Technology report, with comprehensive commentary on not only the current key industry talking points, but also the long term impact of new technology on the Ad business.

All written from the “outsider inside” perspective you’d expect from The Economist. Great journalism, and well worth a read.

The report is sponsored by creative agency Ogilvy, meaning plenty of David Ogilvy pearls of wisdom interspersed throughout the text. The best:

“An advertisement is like a radar sweep, constantly hunting new prospects as they come into the market. Get a good radar, and keep it sweeping.”

Neatly applies to the modern world of smart data and audience targeting doesn’t it? Enjoy.

PWC Digital IQ study reveals appetite for change from the top

The latest PWC Digital IQ study shows that Asia CEOs lead the way on Digital. There is however concern on the ability of businesses in Asia to deliver transformational Digital strategies top to bottom.

80% of respondents from Asia said their CEOs are active champions of Digital strategy, compared to 71% overall.

chart (1)

And 89% say their CEO and CIO have a strong relationship – much higher than the average of 69%.

chart (2)

However, at 87%, respondents from Asia are considerably more concerned than their global counterparts (74%) about the inability to quickly adopt to new Digital realities as a threat to organizational growth.

Success in capturing value from Digital investments starts with the CEO and requires that company leadership agrees on making Digital a priority. But it doesn’t finish there.

Until the entire business is acting accordingly in everything they do the work is not complete. Perhaps the key conclusion to draw from the survey is that, across Asia, the will for Digital transformation from the top, still needs to translate to everyday business practice on the ground.

Find more detail on the study here.

Facebook announces new mobile targeting to help advertisers reach rural consumers

Consumers in Asia are coming online at a staggering rate, with the majority accessing the Internet via mobile networks. The flip side of this rapid change is that network speeds can vary and infrastructure is constantly changing.

In light of this, Facebook has announced it is introducing a mobile bandwidth targeting feature to assist brand marketers deliver more relevant messages to customers.

The new targeting option enables advertisers to reach people based on the network connection — 2G, 3G or 4G — they most often use when accessing Facebook.

facebook bandwidth targeting

The hope is that this creates a better experience for both Facebook customers and advertisers as creative and messaging become more targeted.

People want fast, efficient experiences on their phones. Our hope is that mobile network targeting can improve the experience people have with Facebook ads by helping advertisers deliver the right experience while respecting people’s device bandwidth and data costs.

This new feature will provide significant benefit to advertisers both in markets such as The Philippines, where network delivery is notoriously slow, and across much of rural Asia.

5 Digital Marketing Trends for South East Asia in 2014

Syndacast have just released an infographic covering five marketing trends to watch out for in South East Asia 2014. Worth taking a look.

  1. Female consumers gaining greater influence in Asia – 31% of women in Asia are chief income earners
  2. Social media is booming – 69% of Singaporeans have connected with brands on a social media site
  3. Organic food purchasing gaining popularity fast – 18% of consumers in Southeast Asia are willing to pay a little more for organic food and greens
  4. Indonesia will boom – The country’s GDP and number of middle class and affluent Indonesian consumers will double by 2020
  5. Mobile will dominate – There are already 895 million mobile users in the region.

Do you think there is anything missing from this list?

South East Asia 2014: Trends Digital Marketers “Must Know” [Infographic]


News and Resources for Digital Marketing and Media in Asia.