Myanmar is going through a digital transformation. AdsMy, a local marketing tech platform, have produced a trends deck covering digital marketing and consumer behaviour for Myanmar in 2018. Programmatic, mobile, video, native and digital advertising are all highlighted as growth areas.
A new survey from the ANA looking at how marketers are conducting their programmatic media buying, revealed that 85% of marketers are currently conducting programmatic initiatives, either in-house or with an agency. However, more than a third of respondents (35%) have reduced the role of their external agencies over the past year as a result of the expansion of their in-house programmatic media buying capabilities. This is a notable increase from a 2016 study that found only 14% of marketers in-housing programmatic.
Other key findings to emerge from the study included:
- 78% of marketers are “concerned, or very concerned about brand safety and programmatic.”
- Only 40% of marketers are comfortable with “the level of transparency about their programmatic media investments” with “hidden costs” a particular concern.
- “Better audience targeting”, “building audience reach”, and “real-time optimization” were the top three cited benefits among marketers that opted to in-house.
It seems overall, transparency in programmatic is on the rise and non-disclosed models are in decline. But what is true transparency in programmatic?
The Programmatic Onion – Layers of Programmatic Transparency
Previously in programmatic, all the above layers of cost would be bundled into a CPM, CPA or CPC – for example, an advertiser would book a campaign with an agency or trading desk at $4 CPM with a minimum spend of $50k per month and all of the operating costs are covered.
Now, slowly, the costs are being unbundled from top to bottom of the programmatic supply chain as we peel back the layers of the programmatic onion. During this unbundling process, some of the people, contracts and relationships are shifting from 3rd parties and into advertisers themselves.
Not every marketer needs or wants to peel the onion. Outcomes based marketing is well suited to many, and certainly simplifies a complex ecosystem. But for many marketers, it seems there is an emerging need for transparency at every step of the supply chain, and a perception that this transparency can be better facilitated through direct relationships with publishers and tech.
Peeling the programmatic onion is a crucial exercise in transparency for our industry, an opportunity for agencies, tech vendors and publishers to build trust, and a key part of building spend in digital channels outside the Duopoly.
iKorea is a column by Soyoon Bach, a Digital Marketing professional in Seoul, covering developments in the Korean digital ecosystem.
Programmatic media buying is a powerful infant. While the technology itself is fairly new, it’s making strides globally. According to eMarketer, the programmatic market in the United States is projected to reach an estimated amount of 26.78 billion USD by the end of this year.
While North America is still by far the biggest programmatic market to date, Asia is quickly catching up and experiencing fast growth rates. Japan, Singapore, and Australia are leading the way as more mature programmatic markets in APAC. Korea is a big digital ad spender – the sixth largest in the world. However, programmatic buying is struggling to get its footing in the nation.
The estimated programmatic spend in Korea as of 2016 was around 141 million USD, which is far behind the billions spent in North America. Also, the definition of “programmatic transactions” is still murky; therefore, it’s unclear how much of that 141 million is truly programmatic. So why is this the case? How could one of the leaders of digital ad spending in Asia have resisted the strong programmatic current taking over the industry?
To understand this phenomenon, it’s important to take a look back through the history of Korea’s digital landscape. Since Yahoo! entered the domestic market in 1997, the digital ecosystem has largely been shaped and influenced by web portals, whereas web portals became fatally disrupted with the introduction of Google in North America. 1999 saw the birth of two web portals that still remain local titans – Daum and Naver. Dozens of other web portals competed for market share but Naver solidified its place at the top in 2003 and has maintained the position ever since. Daum come as a not-so-close second (the Bing to its Google if you may).
Naver is a formidable giant. The key difference between Google and Naver is that Google is a launching-off point. You start on Google and use it as a tool to help you get to where you need to go. Naver is different. It’s its own fully functioning ecosystem, equipped with search functions, blogs, cafes (communities), maps, ask sections, news, shopping, webtoons, music, real estate, finance, etc. You could access a mind-boggling amount of content without ever having to truly leave the platform. The experience is enclosed in comparison to Google’s openness.
This is probably the biggest reason why programmatic is stunted in Korea. One of the reasons why programmatic is such a hit is because it makes it so much easier to sell and buy ad inventory. There were an estimated 1.82 billion active websites in the US in April 2017. Imagine advertisers having to shift through that many websites to decide which publisher’s inventory they want to purchase. It also makes it that much harder for publishers to manually sell their inventory. But when you put it into an automated system, such as programmatic media buying, it relieves the pressures of manually selling and buying.
However, Naver never has this problem. Many Koreans go to Naver to start web surfing and usually will stay within the platform for most, if not all, of their internet journey. Thus, advertisers will always go to Naver to buy inventory because they know that it’s guaranteed to be shown to a wide audience. Unlike Google, that has famously refused any form of disruptive ads on its search engine (e.g. banners and pop-ups), Naver allows ads to be shown on a variety of placements all throughout their portal. And it’s always in high demand.
Advertisers have to go through booking processes for most of the inventory, possibly facing hefty penalties for booking cancellations. They also have to adhere to strict rules set by Naver, be satisfied with simplistic reports that don’t reveal much, deal with the strict forbiddance of third-party tracking, etc. For Naver Timeboard, which guarantees your ads will be shown in the spot right under the main search engine for one hour, advertisers can pay up to 30,000 USD. FOR ONE HOUR.
Advertisers grumble and moan but continually go back to Naver because that’s where their customers are. They can’t help but use it the way that most advertisers can’t avoid using Google for their search campaigns. You’re giving up too many impressions when you do. And because there’s such a high demand for their advertising space, sometimes requiring advertisers to book months in advance, they have absolutely no incentive to put their inventory out in a competitive marketplace. Daum has also followed in Naver’s footsteps.
So without Naver and Daum inventory, the marketplace for programmatic media buying just shrunk drastically, to a point where most advertisers don’t see the appeal of even bothering. Even with the appeal of more granular targeting options, more competitive pricing, and the ability to derive great insights about customer behavior, the lack of inventory is a huge barrier to entry.
However, Korea can’t stay this way forever. Global trends push for more transparency, more data, more precision and efficiency. High-tech Korean users are gravitating towards Google products and Korean branches of global agencies continue to feel pressure from abroad to start implementing programmatic practices. Programmatic technology platforms are arriving domestically in bulk. DCM, MediaMath, Adjust, Turn, Criteo, DataXu, and Rocket Fuel are just a couple of the players that are aiming to get in the market early.
It’s only a matter of time before the wall collapses and programmatic infiltrates the domestic market with full force. This leads to interesting questions that cannot yet be answered. How will powerhouses Naver and Daum react to this threat to their dominance? How will this change the Korean digital landscape and its heavy reliance on web portals to direct their internet activity? What strategies will Google utilize to take advantage of this situation? How will this push for transparency and an open web have ripple effects across other industries that have benefited from this enclosed ecosystem?
I think we’ll find out sooner than we think.
MediaMath has announced the launch of a curated publisher marketplace product to deliver premium, high quality media. With the brand safety questions around social media and UGC environments right now, this is a timely move.
The Curated Market will employ a stringent set of brand safety standards and protocols:
- Focus on large scale, high quality publishers based on ComScore
- Privileged access to high priority inventory in the publisher ad server
- Transparent, validated URLs only
- Exclusion of most user generated content, specifically in environments or on publishers that do not support content monitoring, verification and blocking
- Integrations with leading third party verification platforms including Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify and Peer39 to provide brand safety filters
- Proprietary Suspicious Traffic Filter inside MediaMath’s platform
- Exclusion of sites or content promoting illegal activity, hateful or distasteful rhetoric
- Ability to opt out of all user generated content – often the source of brand safety issues – paying only for secure, brand-safe inventory across all channels including display, social and video.
To help ensure MediaMath stands by the brand safety promise, MediaMath clients using the Curated Market will not pay for media if it does not meet the agreed upon criteria at the publisher level. Specifically, if advertisers find their ads are run on previously determined unsafe inventory they will be credited with a refund for those impressions by MediaMath.
Joe Zawadzki, Chairman and CEO of MediaMath, said: “Digital advertising has long promised the ability to change how marketers interact with their customers, but the ubiquity of channels and content means marketers need to be more selective. The Curated Market offering provides transparency and hygiene in execution and reporting, audience addressability at scale and accountability for actors in the digital ecosystem, across all channels. It will change the way marketers think about buying ads.”
Overall, this is a smart move from a DSP that has let competitors – The Trade Desk and DBM to name two – get a jump on it in recent years. A commitment to brand safety is increasingly what brands are looking for in 2017, and MediaMath is to be applauded in taking a proactive approach.
New digital advertising firm Rodeo have created Malaysia’s first interactive in car advertising platform, which provides advertisers with a captive audience on a programmatic buying platform.
Clients already signed up to the service include Lenovo, Li TV, Sling Apps, Zepto, Rainfilms, and eBizu.
The innovative concept works by installing 10.1inch HD tablets on the back of car seat head rests, which entertain passengers and creates a dynamic platform that allows interaction with brands, offers and promotions designed to catch the passenger’s eye.
According to Rodeo CEO, Valens Subramaniam, the majority of passengers spend 10 minutes or more travelling per car journey. Advertising slots are sold in blocks of 16 (max) and run on a loop. Each advertisement is shown for 15 seconds, ensuring that ads have high frequency to maximise the exposure.
A major challenge for today’s advertisers is maintaining attention long enough for potential customers to buy into the benefits of products and services offered. Rodeo’s digital out-of-home (DOOH) media applications solve this problem by placing advertising platforms in vehicles, thereby maximising customers’ engagement with the content.
The interactive platform allows passengers to provide their contact details and ask for more information on a particular product or service. Leads are funnelled through to advertisers in real-time. Clients can also track customer data in order to enhance understanding of target audiences, and cutting-edge technology such as facial-recognition will be able to assist advertisers in providing personalised content.
Rodeo’s DOOH system also presents vital public service announcements and real-time information such as police reports on crimes or missing persons, which can help resolve these issues quicker by increasing the reach of information being spread.
Mr Valens – former CEO of iCab Malaysia – spoke of the benefits it can bring to advertisers and drivers. “In recent years, advertisers have faced a considerable challenge of keeping the attention of potential customers as they promote their products and services. Our innovative media application helps to solve that problem by offering a captive audience for each advertiser, every time.
“Our full-time drivers complete, on average, 140 rides per week, which translate to over 550 unique passengers per month, per driver. This is an excellent opportunity for advertisers to maximise their reach and generate real-time leads.”
He added, “Our drivers are also offered incentives to boost their income by generating additional income for themselves, as well as meeting their KPIs, and so this is a perfect opportunity for everyone involved to take advantage of the benefits offered by the in-transit media industry. It is truly an exciting time for the Rodeo team, and it is my goal to expand to other Malaysian states and South East Asian countries over the next two years.”
The DOOH media industry could be worth over $US60 million to Malaysian economy by 2019.
Mobile is a hot topic. Viewability is perhaps even hotter. Bring the two together and you have some sort of digital marketing nuclear volcano.
Well maybe. Mobile viewability is a subset of the overall “has my ad been seen and by who” issue, but a particularly tricky one. The lack of a unique user ID is the clearest roadblock. But it’s also clear that the various technologies and vendors used to solve mobile advertising delivery issues, often create further fragmentation.
Fragmentation is especially critical when understanding exactly how ads are delivered to a mobile webpage or app. In mere milliseconds – the time it takes to load a webpage or app – a typical mobile ad is requested, analyzed, bid on, approved, and served. That’s the reality of the coming era of programmatic advertising as many of you know.
A recent infographic from The Mobile Majority walks us through the steps required for all these technologies to work together. And with a whole swathe of brands and ad tech firms in the mobile first APAC region committing unequivocally to the future of programmatic, the mobile viewability issue is not going to go away.
Understanding Mobile Viewability 
In simple terms, the entire journey of an ad, from initial request to final display, has to happen really fast. That’s what programmatic necessitates. During such a rapid journey, handoffs between technologies and vendors have to be clean and consistent.
Once the ad is actually placed, a whole other set of considerations emerge. Publishers control their site or app, deciding how and where to place the ads that get delivered. On the other hand, tech vendors control how the ad is rendered. How that rendering interacts with publisher placement can go a long way in determining viewability.
Mobile ads are also becoming more complex. The banner ad, although still incredibly popular, is receding to the back of the most-effective-ad discussion. Taking its place at the front are rich media ads and video, which offer much higher levels of interactivity, engagement and ultimately conversion.
But higher levels of creative require – you guessed it – more layers of technology. Try to integrate this creative across different operating systems, app formats, web browsers and connection types, and you have countless opportunities for viewability to break down.
And here’s the final problem: we don’t even have a set of viewability standards for mobile yet. The IAB standards are designed for desktop, and therefore really only helpful as a frame of reference. So while we wait for official mobile guidelines (expected by the end of this year), viewability on mobile will continue to have a frontier feel to it. Hopefully, there won’t be too many outlaws.
Programmatic advertising seems to be taking over the world in 2015, and it’s importance is growing across Asian markets.
In fact recent studies show that 3 out of 4 APAC brands to increase investment in data driven buying over the year ahead, in line with global trends.
We talk to Matt Ware, Commercial Director APAC, at MediaMath about the three M’s – Mad Men, Math Men, and Maroon 5. Plus a little bit about programmatic.
DIA Hi Matt. How are you?
MW Hi Digital in Asia! Very well thanks.
DIA We’re big fans of Mad Men here at DIA. Can you explain how we got from the Mad Men era, to the Math Men era, and the key differences?
MW To the world’s first advertising agencies, the technology now available to help marketers would have seemed like something from a fantastical science fiction novel.
In reality, the latest technology is proving to be an essential business tool in delivering what has long been promised but never realised – true customer-centric marketing.
While these tools and new ways of working can seem complex and intimidating even to experienced agency hands and marketers, grasping the fundamentals and understanding how programmatic can help business is surprisingly simple.
DIA What are the most compelling benefits programmatic trading can offer advertisers?
MW The three key business advantages that programmatic can deliver are improved targeting, scale, and relevancy. Combining these elements with real-time decision-making across millions of ad-serving opportunities means a brand can lower its marketing costs while boosting its return on investment.
At the heart of the matter is data. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated in how they use devices – from desktops to tablets and mobiles – and when they want to research, review, and buy goods or services. Marketers can now access more data than ever before about this increasingly complicated consumer path to purchase.
DIA Tell us more about data driven advertising. We know that data is THE key component of marketing moving forward.
MW Data Driven Marketing and Advertising (DDMA) – a common acronym among agencies and networks – is powered by technology that analyses vast data sets and provides the algorithms that underpin programmatic buying. This approach to marketing strategy is attracting more and more investment.
According to research conducted among 3,000 marketing practitioners across 17 countries, almost two-thirds (63%) increased their investment in DDMA in 2014, and nearly three-quarters (73%) expect to increase their DDMA budget this year.
It is vital that companies invest in technology that can analyse their consumer data because without this information, their competitors will simply leave them behind. The technology enables data to be qualified and mined for insights that can help with audience segmentation and contextual targeting. Engaging ads can then be created to serve to potential customers. Finally, these ads must be tracked, measured, adjusted and tested again and again to achieve optimum performance.
DIA How can advertisers take their first steps into programmatic?
MW Many brands are now testing programmatic buying on small projects so they can learn more about the systems, before using the results to help convince the CEO or the board that more budget should be invested in automated trading. Some brands such as Mondelez and Procter & Gamble have already announced that a large chunk of media spend will now be traded programmatically.
DIA What does programmatic advertising mean for consumers?
MW Ultimately, programmatic trading allows clients to serve relevant advertising to the consumer via the appropriate channel or platform, and at the right time. It is customer-centric because it prevents the shopper from being bombarded with meaningless messages for products in which they have no interest. The idea is to create a truly personalised shopping experience.
The brand, client, and agency benefit from efficiencies of scale and accurate targeting, and there is less money wasted on trying to reach the potential consumer. A consumer who is happy with the messages he or she receives is more likely to buy the goods and services on offer. It’s a win-win all round.
DIA Thanks Matt. Finally, has anyone ever mentioned your resemblance to Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine?!
MW Thank you. The rock and roll stardom wasn’t enough for me, I find a career in programmatic far more exciting.
Viewability was one of the hottest topics in Digital over 2014, but the buzz has eased off slightly since the release of the IAB standards. Concerns around fraud rumble on, with a feeling that current regulation does quite not go far enough.
Getting measurement right is a key component of successful advertising delivery, especially in the Digital space where there is so much measurement available. Benchmarks, research and case studies are crucial, so it’s handy that Sizmek have just released their latest report into the impact of viewability measurement.
The Sizmek Research team analyzed viewable data from more than 240 billion measured impressions, 840,000 ads and 120,000 campaigns served in 74 countries to more than 22,000 publishers and 43 programmatic partners. That’s quite a lot.
The report found that ads with greater interactivity are more likely to be viewable, that mobile ads are more viewable than ads on desktop computers, and ads sold directly to publishers are more viewable than ads sold through automated or programmatic platforms.
There are some interesting comparisons looking at APAC versus other regions. Asia in general scores very high in rich media mobile ad CTRs.
In the US, the IAB minimum viewable threshold for performance, is 70% viewability. The research found this level to be a reliable indicator of performance. The report also found that choosing mobile friendly HTML5 formats and creative sizes specific to mobile devices, improves ad viewability.
Sizmek Viewability Benchmarks 
“The specifics and definitions will no doubt continue to be debated, but the recent efforts at standardizing viewability terminology move the industry toward a more transparent marketplace for digital ads, and our research backs that up. Viewability just works in terms of driving campaign performance,” says Alex White, VP Product Strategy at Sizmek.
Clearly, measuring whether an ad is viewable gives the industry a great starting point for trading in true engagement.
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. Continue reading MicroAd leads funding round for Ambient Digital in South East Asia
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. Continue reading MicroAd CEO Discusses Strategy and The Future of Programmatic in APAC