Binge-watching of online video is on the rise amongst Singaporeans, who spend on average two hours, 35 minutes watching videos in each sitting according to the State of Online Video 2019 report.
In addition to time spent, Singaporeans are also consuming more online video services. The report revealed that a majority 64 per cent of Singaporeans subscribe to at least one streaming service, and nearly three in four Singaporeans (72 per cent) now use dedicated streaming devices such as Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV.
Globally, people who watch online video spend an average of six hours, 48 minutes per week watching various types of content. Average viewing time is has grown 59 percent since 2016.
Figure 1: How many total hours of video content do you watch online each week (by year)?
Viewers in the US watch the most online video each week at an average of eight hours, 33 minutes, followed closely by viewers in India. Singapore sees the third highest volume of online video viewing.
Figure 2: How many total hours of video content do you watch online each week (by country)?
Latency, or delays in streaming, remains a critical point of frustration for viewers. The report found that more than half of Singaporeans are more likely to watch live sports online if the stream was not delayed from the broadcast. This is because traditional streams are generally delayed by 30 seconds or more from the broadcast feed, and with the rise in social media usage, every second of delay can potentially ruin the game when online viewers learn about big plays from social media before seeing the action online.
Global ad tech company IPONWEB (the super smart guys who built most of the programmatic infrastructure the industry relies on today) has set up a TV Solutions division to capitalise on the opportunities in the rapidly-growing digital TV sector. PwC predicts that one-third of the more than $200 billion global TV market will be traded programmatically by 2021. OTT and CTV (among other acronyms) are a huge focus in the entertainment industry right now, and where the biggest VC bets are being made, from Netflix to Hotstar. Digital in Asia took time to chat to Moritz Wuttke – newly appointed to lead the IPONWEB TV solutions division in the region – about all things Video, OTT and TV in APAC.
Digital in Asia: First off, WTF is OTT?!
Moritz Wuttke: OTT joins the long list of seemingly ubiquitous three-letter acronyms prevalent in digital media. Coming under the ‘advanced TV’ umbrella, it refers to video content that is streamed over the internet without the need for a paid-for cable or satellite subscription – it is delivered ‘over the top’ (OTT) of the traditional closed TV structure.
Content is viewed on any device connected to the internet – smartphones, tablets and laptops, as well as connected TV (or CTV to reinforce the acronym point).
Internet-based TV is now part of daily life for many people and the increasing consumption of internet video content on mobile devices is further driving this trend.
Consequently, the convergence of the digital media and television industries is now an ever-present fact that broadcasters and content providers must take into account.
DIA: Why is TV over the internet important for broadcasters?
MW: Traditionally, broadcasters were the masters of what people viewed and when they did so; the digital age has, of course, turned this on its head. Today’s YouTube and Netflix ethos sees users create vast swathes of free video content that anyone online can watch. Meanwhile, people expect to view what they want, at a time to suit them on the device that is to hand at that moment.
The increasing uptake of streamed video, paid and free, is tipping the balance back again. Broadcasters have developed additional platforms to attract and entertain their audiences, as well as offer them viewing flexibility, whether that is accessing programmes via catch-up or on-demand or binge-watching their favourite shows.
TV over the internet provides commercial broadcasters with additional advertising channels, and with that, new sources of revenue, while programmatic technology enables media trading to be fast efficient and, in some markets, more targeted.
DIA: Why does TV have such an ongoing appeal for advertisers, and do you see this changing?
MW: TV has always appealed to advertisers as the most cost-effective way to reach the mass market. While the broadcast media trading industry is seeing unprecedented changes, the inherent advantages offered by OTT television help the transition.
The various YouTube and Facebook ad placement scandals have shone a spotlight on the need for brand safety – and how difficult it can be to orchestrate in the digital arena. Broadcast TV available over the internet however lets advertisers control where their budget is spent so that it is non-damaging.
At the same time, it is also effective thanks to high-quality audiences and ads that can’t be skipped or fast-forwarded. This has resulted in strong growth of OTT advertising, particularly in the US market where Magna Global estimates that OTT grew 40% to $2 billion in 2018.
Addressable TV raises the bar still further, allowing different ads to be shown to different people, depending on their profile. Advertisers only need to spend where they want the ad to be seen, driving return on investment without the wastage that is typically found in broad-spectrum ad placement. In the UK, Sky leads the addressable TV space, reaching more than 40% of all households.
DIA: What types of brands or verticals are investing in advanced TV advertising, and why?
MW: Direct to consumer, or DTC, brands by their very nature will flock to advanced TV advertising. This will include addressable TV on linear (real-time) TV, where the audience is targeted with ads most relevant to them, and OTT advertising with its pre-roll and mid-roll options as well as relevant ad placement.
Advanced TV advertising is ideal for brands wanting to reach very distinct audiences, whether by geography, behaviour or demography. SMEs may want focus on the very specific locations in which they operate, while a brand that is available nationwide will have a large catchment area but may only be relevant to a particular audience (an air conditioning supplier is most likely to appeal to homeowners and new house-buyers for example.)
At the other end of the scale, TV advertising is now a reality for luxury brands, for whom ‘mass appeal’ has never been an issue. Luxury car-maker McLaren launched its first-ever TV advertising campaign via addressable TV because addressable advertising enabled it to target the right niche audience and deliver ROI.
DIA: How fast is internet TV being adopted in Asia?
MW: In China the majority of TV content is delivered OTT because of the high internet bandwidth available (more than 2.1billion devices are IP connected and can receive video content), while Thailand’s 4G rollout allows good quality internet TV via mobile screens. Overall, 16.3% of Asia Pacific internet users are current OTT subscribers, with show strong growth forecast over the next few years. This is underpinned by investment in the region by a number of large OTT players; we’ve seen the launch of HBO Go Asia and HOOQ, an OTT streaming solution backed by large content providers and local contributors including SingTel.
This shift to OTT services also reflects the ‘mobile first’ preference of consumers; at the end of 2018, more than 61% of webpage views in Asia were on mobile (compared to a global average of 48.2%).
DIA: Why is the shift to OTT happening now?
MW: Television has always held mass appeal – to audiences and therefore to advertisers. What we are witnessing now is the power of TV being made available over wireless networks (i.e. mobile phones and robust home internet connections). As hardware, software and connectivity continue to improve, audiences are increasingly able and willing to watch TV content online.
But it’s not without its significant challenges. Aligning and measuring TV audiences over different channels, non-integrated platforms and transparency are all issues on which IPONWEB is focused, with the goal of balancing investment in OTT with subsequent revenues.
There is certainly both appetite and talent to drive innovation in the television market – and the pace of change is fast, with Amazon and Netflix adding highly attractive content to make the space even more dynamic. Watch this space.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in digital technology across APAC over the past 10 years?
There is greater customer demand for first-rate user experiences compared to a decade ago. Brands have to evolve their strategies to keep up with the customer, providing seamless interactions and a consistent experience across a wide range of platforms. This is resulting in marketers shifting their focus from the transaction to the experience, where the customer and their lifetime engagement with the brand are at the centre of every marketing strategy.
From a technological viewpoint, this customer-centric focus requires marketers to bring together the vast number of digital solutions used to optimize the customer journey over the last few years into a more manageable stack. It is also leading to an increased focus on granular first-party data to help understand the customer and their needs through detailed profiles. Where brands may once have acted on instinct, or what they felt was right, they now use data to ensure they are making the best decisions.
How has regulation such as GDPR impacted businesses in APAC and their ability to manage and use consumer data?
GDPR covers any organization that handles the data of EU citizens — and in today’s global economy, this means it impacts most companies; including those in APAC. Yet attitudes towards the regulation remain mixed. On the one hand, there is an appreciation that complying with the new rules brings many advantages: by giving individuals power over data and more visibility into usage, the GDPR can reduce privacy concerns, increase trust, and build lasting customer relationships. But on the other, following legislation that goes beyond regional law is difficult. Ahead of enforcement, more than half of firms in Singapore weren’t ready and one month later, only a quarter of Japanese companies had met fundamental rules.
Businesses must keep working towards compliance and recognize that the GDPR doesn’t necessarily require a total internal overhaul – a common misconception. Companies will often find they can make existing systems adherent by connecting them, instead of replacing them.
What can businesses do to better leverage the explosion of customer data we’ve seen as a result of the digital age?
In short, it means putting the data created by greater connectivity into action. As adoption of smartphones, tablets and wearable technology has grown — with 8.6 billion devices set to be in use across Asia by 2020 — the quantity of data produced by consumers has exploded. So, brands now have a larger pool of transactional, demographic, and behavioural information to draw upon than ever. But before they can harness this data as a basis for tailoring customer experiences, companies need to translate it into cohesive and usable insight. And this is no simple task; in fact, 34% of marketers state that the difficulty of unifying data sources is the greatest barrier to better understanding customer journeys.
The evolution from brands talking about DMPs to CDPs as their primary consumer data tool has been very apparent over the past few years in marketing. What’s the difference between these platforms from your perspective?
The answer to this lies in the history of both tools. DMPs were originally designed to gather information about online activity, categorize it and build audience segments, which then fed into other systems such as DSPs. As the complexity of consumer journeys increased, DMPs tried to meet the need for a persistent view of individuals. But because they were only able to store third-party cookies, it was difficult to effectively resolve the many identifiers created by different channels and devices. And this is where CDPs come in. CDPs can collate, synchronize, and activate data from varied sources: generating one centralized store of insight marketers can use to understand and trace individuals across touchpoints. This results in the capability to take consistent and relevant action in real time across an organization’s entire tech stack from a universal data foundation.
This isn’t, however, to say CDPs supersede DMPs; the two can be effective when used in partnership. For example, a CDP can give marketers a ‘single source of truth’ and a complete picture of customer journeys. This insight can then be shared with DMPs to produce better audience segments that ultimately boost ad targeting precision and results.
What can brands do to get closer to the holy grail of a true 360-degree view of their customers in real time?
If brands want to obtain a real-time 360-degree customer view, they must ensure data is well orchestrated. And this means following several core stages that aim to continuously harmonize data. To start, customer interaction data must be collected from every possible source — such as apps, sites, and stores — combined into a single layer, standardized, and cleansed. Simultaneously, this information should also be stitched and enriched; with smart tools used to assess incoming data and transform it into individual profiles that are linked with data from particular devices, once owners are identified.
Because all of this is done in real time, the end product is a complete up-to-date customer profile. Exactly the insight marketers need to understand customers and deliver engaging experiences across channels. Though it’s worth noting that to accommodate ever-evolving individual preferences and habits, they must also check that their orchestration platform integrates with other systems and constantly ingests new data.
How are AI and machine learning changing the way brands engage with their customers?
AI and subsets such as machine learning are already beginning to broaden the horizons of customer interaction by adding new channels to the mix. The best-known examples of this are chatbots — used to provide instant 24/7 services by major brands from Starbucks to MasterCard — and the growing presence of digital tools in physical stores. As recently seenwith the Guess and AlibabaFashionAIstore, which trialled blending real shopping and a range of intelligent tech; facial recognition, smart touchscreen mirrors, RFID-tagged items.
But it’s also important to highlight the applications that are making a sizeable difference to customer experience behind the scenes. Machine learning, in particular, is fuelling advances in data processing; giving brands the means to collect and analyze customer information at scale, and extract valuable insight. This in turn, means data can be quickly harnessed toimprove interactions by enhancing contextual relevance and personal resonance. So long as marketers are taking adequate measures to keep quality and accuracy high, including avoiding bias among the human teams driving AI and data fragmentation.
What are the biggest challenges you see with brands getting to grips with big data in APAC?
One of the most significant challenges is providing communications that keep pace with omnichannel activity. According to a Google study, the majority of APAC consumers prefer to research online and buy in store; with 70% doing so while browsing real shelves. But activity varies by market; Australia and Japan, for example, have large numbers of digital shoppers – especially Japan, where e-commerce revenue is currently more than $80 million.
So, there is no room for archetypes; marketers need all-inclusive insight into the behaviour of specific target audiences. Only by identifying which devices, shopping environments, and ad types work best for individuals can they provide personalized experiences that flow as part of a seamless cross-channel conversation. And that necessitates agile integrated tech, which can be problematic in certain markets that have historically relied on legacy systems. Despite its forward-looking approach to mobile, Japan still tends to use CRM databases that don’t necessarily have the capacity to work with other systems and therefore can’t share data easily.
Finally, how can brands intelligently pull all their data together to build a better, more personalised and more holistic customer experience for 2019 and beyond?
The role intelligent data plays in customer experience will continue to grow as more brands recognize the value of building communications around individuals. Forrester research has shown brands focused on customer experience achieve an annual growth rate of 23% and twice as much return on ad spend — and data is an integral element of this.
But to get every interaction right, brands mustn’t overlook the basics. Constructing a strong foundation of compliant, accurate, objective and perfectly orchestrated data is critical for communications to make a positive impact.
Digital transformation is expected to have the single biggest impact on Malaysia’s economy in the near future, contributing at least 20% to the country’s GDP by 2020. But what does this mean for Malaysia’s telecom industry – and its consumers?
Thanks to the government’s sustained investment in telecommunications infrastructure over the last 20 years, Malaysians are now more connected than ever – through social media networks, mobile and other digital services – with broadband penetration approaching 90%, according to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). The telecommunications industry has been the biggest beneficiary of this investment. Today, Axiata Group, Malaysia’s largest telecommunications company, has over 350 million subscribers across multiple Asian countries.
On the other hand, growth in connectivity has also spurred an increase in cyber attacks. While Malaysia ranks 3rd in the 2017 Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), a Microsoftsurvey estimates that economic costs to the Malaysian economy due to cyber attacks can reach as high as US$12.2 billion.
A common target for cyber-criminals is the Domain Name System (DNS)– a first line of protection for a company’s network. Businesses that are targeted face the prospects of lost revenue as well as reputational damage due to breaches of customer trust. The consequences are perhaps most damaging for the telecom industry; EfficientIP’s 2018 DNS Threat Reportfound that the telecom industry had the most sensitive customer information stolen across all sectors from DNS attacks, with nearly a third of companies in Asia-Pacific becoming victims of data theft.
Following DNS attacks, Malaysian political party websites went down on the day of last year’s general election. In response, Malaysia’s National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) issued an advisory to all government and private organizations that improving their network security is critically important in safeguarding the continued growth of the digital economy. At around the same time, the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation partnered with the Axiata Group to develop greater capabilities for Malaysia’s cybersecurity industry.
While EfficientIP’s reportfound that the rate of DNS attacks is steadily on the rise, the news isn’t all bleak – many telecom companies already monitor and analyze DNS traffic in real time to detect data exfiltration attempts. Businesses can further improve their cybersecurity capabilities by adopting simple measures such as optimizing IT infrastructures with high-performance DNS servers and decentralizing the DNS architecture. These measures build resiliency to withstand attacks and more often than not, also improve the user experience.
At this critical juncture point in Malaysia’s development, the telecom industry has a critical role to play in ensuring the continuity and success of the nation’s digital transformation. The challenges being faced are high and the stakes are even higher – but such challenges can be overcome and safeguarded with a holistic approach to cybersecurity, starting with DNS.
We’ve all seen the huge rise of interest in programmatic over the past few years – what lies ahead for this technology?
It has taken a number of years for media buying to adopt automated ways of transacting in the region. This is mainly due to this being a more conservative part of the world, where change is not always welcomed, and which still relies on more traditional marketing methods. What lies ahead is a deeper adoption of automation, which will not be limited to standard display or video advertising, but will also include other media too, such as outdoor ads.
As money has always been invested in TV, the shift to digital and then from digital to basic IO has been a lot slower here than it has been in Europe, for example. What’s next for FreeWheel is to use the experience we’ve gained in other parts of the world to help the smoother adoption of automation in this market.
What are your thoughts on the growth of digital advertising in APAC?
Obviously, when it comes to digital growth, the most significant development has been in mobile, which has a massive market share. In certain parts of the region, consumers have on average two to three mobile phones per person. And as APAC is made up of a number of developing mass markets with large populations, it will only continue to grow. Broadcasters are also changing their strategies and moving inventory to digital from traditional TV.
How does the video advertising market in APAC differ to other regions?
The APAC region is very different from the rest of the world, as it contains a number of global markets – each of which has its own complexities and compliances for marketing. Each market has different, local factors that need to be considered. We also have to consider local language requirements, as some might only run campaigns in the local language, whereas others might prefer a mix with English.
Will we see TV and video continuing on their path of convergence?
Yes, I believe this convergence will continue. Traditionally, we spoke to agencies and digital buyers to try and get digital video inventory. Now media buyers are transacting across TV and video. Our aim is to get broadcasters to think about how they trade and bring the two forms of media together, and we want to see this happen on a large scale in the APAC region. Customers who have had success with digital need to start seeing their linear offering in the same way that they view their OTT offering.
The start of 2019 sees digital facing a bright future. Not only are consumers optimistic about smart technology — with 73% in China anticipating a positive impact — but the advertising industry is also flourishing. Digital spend in Asia Pacific hit $70 billion in 2018, and by 2022 that figure will reach $110 billion: over half of the total ad market.
So, what does this mean for 2019?
According to industry leaders, the popularity of automation will see programmatic become the norm, while mobile retains its advertising crown and TV becomes increasingly entwined with digital. At the same time, marketers will also start to realise that effectively mastering artificial intelligence (AI) takes more than simply tech know-how.
Let’s explore the key trends:
Rashmi Paul, Commercial Director, Asia Pacific at FreeWheel
“While the adoption of automation has been slower in South East Asia than in other regions, advertisers – in their quest for qualified and measurable audiences – are making it the driver of change in 2019 and beyond. We’ll see less media buying through a site-list or a programme-list only, but a deeper commitment to automated content, not just in standard display and video advertising, but in other areas such as outdoor media.
“With people in the region owning two to three mobiles each on average, the mobile app market will continue to grow in 2019, thanks in part to the popularity of gaming and social media. But we will also see an increase in the OTT market, which hasn’t taken off in APAC up until now – both in app, and through the TV. This will be helped by improving internet strength, making it easier to watch content on the move.”
“One of the best things about pioneers is that they blaze a trail for others to follow. China, for example, has so far led the mobile market: aggressively investing in m-commerce apps and testing new features. It is also thebiggest driver of global digital advertising spend in Asia Pacific. But due to the groundwork put in by China, there is now a booming mobile economy and programmatic advertising scene for its neighbours to leverage.
“In 2019, we can expect an influx of new players in automated mobile advertising and app development. And these market entrants will have many advantages. In addition to gaining insight from this mobile advertising evolution – such as the formats that drive high engagement, like interactive ads, and those that inspire use of blockers, like interstitials, they will have an understanding of what works well in their region. This might include offering lower app prices in particular areas and the option to pay via carrier billing. The time is coming for new innovators who have watched mobile advances from the sidelines to put their knowledge into action.”
Satoru Yamauchi, Director of Partner Services, OpenX
“Video already dominates Japan’s digital advertising landscape, with spend set to top $200 million this year. Moving into the new year, video will command even more advertising dollars especially on mobile, where consumers are increasingly spending more of their time. The number of smartphone video viewers will grow to nearly 40 million in 2019 and advertisers looking to reach these audiences will need to build campaigns with a mobile specific user experience in mind. Formats that interrupt user activity or delay content access are likely to irritate consumers and fuel negative brand associations. This is especially true in the mobile context, where large ads block content on small screens, slow down load times and eat into data allowances. To ensure a positive user experience, advertisers should harness engaging ads that give consumers a choice about how much they wish to interact with brands, such as opt-in video, which provides a genuine value exchange between advertisers and consumers.”
“With a growing emphasis on connected devices, and the subsequent explosion of data, in 2019, there will be even more demand on companies to manage an increasing amount of insights. While in 2018, businesses were keen to harness artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, they didn’t necessarily fully understand it enough to utilise it to its full potential. In 2019 we will see a greater focus on the quality of datasets behind the algorithms – which fuel tools such as these – and businesses will look to build a strong data foundation before jumping on the latest tech bandwagon. We think a mantra of ‘go boldly, tread lightly’ will be particularly relevant to many companies. They will need to put in place the tools to effectively collate, manage, and enrich data insights – and be able to connect disparate data silos, such as ecommerce, call centre, and legacy back-end systems to create a 360-degree view of each customer.
“In addition to this, we will see changes to roles within the workforce to better understand technologies such as AI and to cope with the increased focus on data as the basis for business decisions. Already, the World Economic Forum suggests the leading job roles over the next five years will include data analysts and scientists and there will be a focus on training new talent. There is evidence of this taking force with Asia’s investment in education and the digital economy, which will ensure employees are better equipped to manage emerging technologies like AI.”
With industry innovators poised to drive market diversity, efficiency, and expansion across Asia Pacific, the outlook for 2019 looks promising. Existing forces such as mobile and video will gain greater strength, and emerging developments in connected TV will bridge the gap between online and offline. As long as quality remains the foundation of progress — covering user experience and data — digital advertising will continue to offer equal value for all.
Leading app platform Smaato recently announced results from its Global Trends in Mobile Advertising H2 2018 report. The report reveals significant growth across key advertising metrics, including ad request volume and eCPMs.
As advertisers direct more money into mobile advertising and consumers continue to adopt smartphones around the world, demand and supply both increased year-over-year, indicating a healthy mobile ad market.
The highest growth region across all metrics was APAC. India stood out from the pack with a 425% growth in mobile ad requests. This was more than twice the growth rate of the fastest growing markets in EMEA and the Americas, which were led by Spain at 152% and the USA at 170% respectively. India’s meteoric ad request growth is characteristic of an emerging mobile market in which the number of mobile device owners, their time spent on mobile, and overall app downloads all rise quickly.
Ad Request Growth on the Smaato Platform
APAC – 44% Growth
EMEA – 23% Growth
Americas – 23% Growth
India – 425%
Spain – 152%
USA – 170%
South Korea – 177%
Netherlands – 87%
Colombia – 150%
Thailand – 77%
France – 82%
Argentina – 141%
Japan – 53%
UK – 70%
Mexico – 83%
Vietnam – 50%
Italy – 61%
Brazil – 54%
Asia Pacific also saw significant eCPM growth in addition to ad request growth. The top five countries in the region in terms of eCPM growth were:
Japan – 125%
Australia – 111%
Hong Kong – 99%
Indonesia – 96%
Alex Khan, Managing Director, APAC at Smaato explains, “The impressive ad request and eCPM growth in APAC are driven by app developers finding new ways to better monetize their content even as consumers are spending more time on apps. Advertisers from all verticals are realizing that apps are where consumers are — and they are directing more funds into this channel.”
He adds, “With app usage increasing across the region, there will also be more monetization opportunities for mobile publishers.”
The friendly folks at Meltwater have just released a new report titled ‘E-commerce in SEA: Supercharging Holiday Sales Through Social Media’ analysing consumer sentiment across South East Asia during the year-end shopping period last year to help e-commerce companies better reach their audiences.
The report found that Christmas shopping pulled in 56% of chatter, while Black Friday represented 22% of buzz. Fast-growing Singles’ Day – a shopping holiday started by internet company Alibaba in 2009 – is credited with kicking off the nearly two-month shopping period, and accounted for 20% of social media conversations.
Within the region, Indonesia drove the highest volume of conversations (57%), which isn’t surprising considering the country’s increased internet penetration and smartphone usage in recent years. Philippines and Malaysia represented 30% and 12% respectively, while Singapore brought in 1% of the buzz.
While the top brands varied from country to country, it’s clear that the marketplace model emerged the real winner. In Singapore, Amazon dominated social media with 51% of online conversations; Shopee led the buzz in Indonesia; Qoo10 was the most talked about in the Philippines; and Lazada emerged triumphant in Malaysia.
There’s more at the full report below.
E-commerce in SEA: Supercharging Holiday Sales Through Social Media [PDF]
Digital in Asia asked Jason Fairchild, Co-Founder of OpenX, one of the largest global sell-side platforms, to tell us about the state of programmatic advertising in Japan.
Digital in Asia: How is the Japanese market approaching programmatic advertising? Is Japan ahead, behind, or just different compared to other global programmatic markets?
Jason Fairchild: Programmatic is taking off in Japan, however, the market is still in its nascent stages, and spend is lower than other markets, such as the US and China. Despite this, more marketers than ever are using the technology to boost reach, relevance and impact, and a recent study from PwC predicts that the increasing demand for programmatic technology is set to push Japan’s media market to US$170 billion by 2020.
It’s not surprising that programmatic is growing as the technology streamlines the buying and selling of online ad space, allowing publishers to efficiently monetize their online content and brands to execute audience-based buying at scale – that is, putting the right message in front of the right user at the right time at massive scale. With investment in online ads expected to increase by more than US$3 billion, marketers will benefit from leveraging this technology to make their advertising more efficient.
DIA: How is OpenX addressing the issue of quality in digital advertising?
JF: As programmatic grows in Japan, it’s important to ensure the advertising ecosystem remains a clean and safe place in which to do business. In 2018 alone, OpenX is investing US$25 million in different quality-assurance measures, and we’re making sure we comply with industry recognised quality standards and have received independent certification for our efforts.
It’s important to note, however, that there are steps that everybody can take to take to stamp out bad practices and tackle fraud. Technology companies, marketers, publishers and every other part of the supply chain all play a role in solving for the quality issues across the industry.
With the recent emergence of new industry standards and initiatives, marketers are now at a point where they can make informed decisions about their technology partners, based on the partners’ commitment to quality.
One example is the IAB’s ads.txt initiative, which has nearly stamped out the threat of domain spoofing, also known as misrepresented domains, and dramatically increased clarity in the supply chain by public record of who is authorized to sell a publisher’s inventory. Another is third-party certification with Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a cross-industry accountability program to create transparency in the business relationships and transactions in digital advertising. Technology companies who meet the stringent standards for certification outlined by TAG earn a seal of approval, and because these demonstrate good practice among vendors, these standards can help buyers and sellers make better decisions on technology partnerships. But it’s important to note that these quality controls are not automatic – they require proactive choice by buyers.
DIA: Mobile now accounts for half of all digital ad spend in Japan. What does this mean for advertisers?
JF: More Japanese consumers own smartphones than ever before, so it’s not surprising to see users spend more time on mobile devices, which in turn drives a marked shift in content consumption towards mobile. Advertisers and publishers have picked up on this trend and now understand that mobile has become the place where consumers spend a majority of their time, and they must adjust their digital strategies accordingly.
To effectively take advantage of this growing channel, advertisers will need to incorporate a range of mobile-specific ad formats and move aggressively away from the desktop-first mentality that most of them have been using. This includes building creative that considers the smaller screen sizes and leveraging rich location data to add more context to their campaigns. On the other hand, publishers must also think about screen size and the user experience to ensure that users aren’t bombarded with too many ads or ones that impede a users’ ability to see or read the content they want.
DIA: Speaking about mobile, what is the future of in-app advertising in Japan and globally?
JF: Quite simply, in-app advertising is the future of mobile advertising. Japanese adults spend three hours and three minutes every day consuming digital media, and in 2017, mobile accounted for more than half of all time spent on digital, so the opportunity is huge.
Studies reveal that the most lucrative in-app ad opportunity is a new innovation called opt-in video, where the consumer is given something of value in exchange for engaging with a video ad. This type of video advertising has proven to be the most consumer-friendly ad format in mobile, and in fact, consumers like it three times more than a non-skippable pre-roll. Completion, viewability and engagement rates are significantly better with opt-in video than other types of mobile video, and the consumer-friendly nature of the ad format makes it a great option for publishers and app developers trying to monetize their content as well.
DIA: What are OpenX’s plans for the wider Asia Pacific region?
JF: Both our Japan and APAC business are continuing to grow. In fact, early this year we announced record new revenue growth in Japan of 52% year-on-year and have signed more than 40 new clients in 2018 alone. The growth derives from us being the largest independent advertising exchange in the country (second only to Google) at a time when programmatic is gaining traction in Japan.
As a result, last quarter we announced that we will be opening our Singapore hub, and plan to move into Australia by the end of Q1 2019. To complement our expansion, we’re committed to growing our team in the Asia Pacific region. We appointed Satoru Yauchi as the director of partner services in the region, who has already played a key leadership role on the team since joining late 2017 and will continue to support us in delivering on our ambitious plans for growth across the region.
There’s been a lot of scepticism recently about where advertising is headed. Online advertising has seen massive growth over the past decade thanks to its flexibility, transparency and measurability—not to mention the ROI. But with this growth comes a new challenge: more than before, marketers must fight to break through the clutter and connect with their target audiences. The rise of obtrusive and irrelevant ads on the web has led to a concurrent surge in ad-blocking software as consumers become frustrated with or indifferent to the content bombarding them. In response, some of advertising’s biggest spenders have started to shift their focus back to real-world tactics such as experiential marketing. This leaves advertising at a tricky crossroads, and got me thinking: Will digital advertising always remain an important instrument in a company’s marketing toolbox? And as an advertising company, how can and should we push advertising to adapt if we believe it to be the way forward?
Xaxis wholeheartedly believes that digital advertising needs to deliver tangible results to continue to be relevant, and as such has repositioned to focus its entire offering on client outcomes. The best way to do this was to understand the client’s advertising goal that ties as closely as possible to the true business outcomes they are trying to drive. So what do marketers need to think about and do differently to truly engage consumers and drive measurable business results?
Artificial intelligence (AI) has completely changed what we can achieve in advertising, from media buying and planning, how to achieve set targets, and the metrics used to understand success. As my colleague Sara Robertson, VP of Product Engineering for Xaxis once said: “AI is like a spreadsheet on steroids”. The potential of AI lies in its ability to see the bigger picture. We’ve made AI and machine learning an integral part of our offerings, used to find and define audiences, refine our creative messaging, generate audience personas, and develop bidding strategies, all of which can transform a digital advertising strategy to drive remarkably improved results for clients.
And while it is true that consumers hate interruption, it’s never a bad thing when advertisers are forced to adapt by creating content that consumers enjoy. One example is a creative new type of ad that has emerged in China to play in breaks of TV dramas online. These ads utilize the TV shows’ original content and narrative arcs, and feature the same actors in their on-screen costumes, making the ad almost indistinguishable from the original content to hold the audience’s attention and pique their interest. This type of advertising is expected to surpass 2 billion yuan (US$311 million) in sales revenue this year, up from 800 million yuan in 2016.
Advertising with influencers also holds increasing importance in the marketing mix as a way for brands to create trust and credibility with consumers. Over the last few years, influencer marketing has skyrocketed to the point that it has become a category of its own. The premise for this is that consumers trust people they already follow rather than an obvious advertiser. Brands are therefore working to get attention from consumers by channelling their message through people with extensive and trusting networks, commissioning influencers to co-create ‘native’ content that advertisers can then amplify. All of this shows that content needs to mimic what consumers already enjoy in order to engage, but advertising itself won’t disappear.
At the end of the day, approaches such as experiential marketing can be a highly valuable way for many companies to increase brand exposure and customer loyalty. But they shouldn’t necessarily replace advertising altogether. Marketers need to look at the bigger picture and focus on reaching business objectives by quantifying success with real metrics and conversions—regardless of the marketing tactics they choose to convey their messages. That means connecting with your customers authentically and holistically, wherever they happen to be – though as we know, people are spending more time online now than ever.
For Xaxis, repositioning our offering to focus on client outcomes was the most logical move. To align with a client’s true marketing and business objectives—and deliver results to hit those objectives and maximize ROI—should be the goal of any marketing tactic. What really sets digital advertising apart is its ability to do exactly that, with more transparency, efficiency and measurability than any other approach. For this reason, we don’t see it dying out anytime soon.