Tag Archives: ad tech

Agents of Change: Programmatic Pain Points and Priorities in APAC

Ryan Pestano_2
By Ryan Pestano, APAC General Manager at IPONWEB

58% of agencies in APAC say programmatic buying lets them drive greater ROI for brand partners, compared to only 40% and 33% for their North American and EMEA cohorts. While APAC typically lags behind other regions in digital and programmatic adoption and ad spending, this finding from new IPONWEB and Exchangewire research, Agents of Change: The Rise of the Programmatic Media Agency, could indicate why programmatic is set to take off in the region.

The report surveyed 129 professionals working in programmatic media at marketing agencies across APAC, EMEA, and North America (NA). It explores the challenges and opportunities the shift to programmatic media trading is creating for agencies, the impact this has on their relationships with clients and publishers, and how they are leveraging technology to create differentiation and provide new value to partners.

Technology Ownership

Despite programmatic’s ability to drive greater ROI for brands, APAC agencies have yet to take the plunge into owning and operating their own programmatic stack; 66% use either third-party technology exclusively or a combination of third and first party technologies, considerably higher than their EMEA (42%) and NA (44%) counterparts. But building their own ad tech stack is a top priority in the next 12 months for 46% of APAC agencies. So what is driving this change?

Building Bridges to Publishers

Surprisingly, agency respondents from APAC claimed that increased use in programmatic buying technology has resulted in improved relationships with both publishers (75%) and brand clients (85%). In fact, 33% of APAC agencies cited a more direct relationship with publishers as one of the major benefits of programmatic, along with access to a greater total number of publishers (45%). Building strong partnerships with relevant publishers is seen as critical to ensuring that clients get a disproportionate advantage in the marketplace, beyond pricing. Interestingly, and probably helping cement better relations between publishers and agencies, only 12% of respondents cite lower CPMs as an expectation from brands for moving more spend to programmatic channels.

Brand Safety

Whereas programmatic has been blamed for the rapid rise of ads appearing in brand unsafe environments in NA and Europe, the story in APAC is different. 39% of agency respondents in APAC cited brand safety as one of the major benefits of programmatic technology, and 35% touted strong fraud and brand safety rates as one of their core differentiators, more than any other region.

This could be due to fraud being directly proportionate to media CPMs. With the exception of Australia and Japan, some of APAC’s largest media markets have a significant supply skew, leading to reduced CPMs and from there lower fraud rates than in other parts of the world where it is harder to balance scale, quality and value.

Transparency Disconnect

Despite the increased use of automated technology for media buying and reporting, there remains a transparency disconnect for APAC agencies; 67% of respondents say transparency around programmatic ROI is a major benefit to their clients, but 64% still cite a lack of transparency around media execution as their biggest challenge. To compound the issue, 58% of respondents say the growth in programmatic is causing brand clients to demand still greater transparency from them.

What’s on the Horizon?

The shift to digital, and more recently to programmatic, has enabled brands and their agency partners to pull off ever more impressive marketing feats and tactics. However, perceived shortcomings in data activation and audience segmentation are compelling many agencies to turn inward to assess how they can fill gaps through proprietary technology solutions and capabilities. According to the research, priorities for APAC agencies over the next year focus on driving even stronger ROI and delivering real business outcomes through furthering omnichannel capabilities, securing and ring-fencing client data, and building out data science teams and custom buying algorithms. But understanding cost implications and having the build vs buy conversation is critical, as 62% of APAC agencies cite cost of maintenance as the number one criteria for evaluating tech ownership decisions.

In an industry and region where things shift rapidly, one thing feels certain: growth in digital will continue unhindered. And what goes digital eventually goes programmatic. The agency that adopts tools, strategies, and mindsets today that maximize programmatic’s strengths and solve its challenges will be well positioned to deliver greater value to brands and create strategic moats for their own businesses for the foreseeable the future.

Download the full research here.

A Duopoly of Convenience: Facebook & Google Tap New Growth in APAC

by Tom Simpson

Latest data reveals that in Q1 2018, Facebook and Google ad revenue grew by 40% year-on-year across Asia Pacific (ex. China), while ‘The Rest’ – every publisher and ad tech business outside the duopoly – saw a fall in revenue of 20% over the same period.

Total APAC (ex. China) Digital Ad Revenue (USD billions) (1)

Looking at the top-line, digital advertising is experiencing strong growth across APAC, with ad spend up $0.85 billion year-on-year in 2018. But it’s clear that while many publishers and ad tech businesses are still growing, in reality that additional $0.85 billion revenue is comprised of $1.63 billion more for Google and Facebook, and $0.78 billion less for everyone else.

As a result, Facebook and Google revenue hit 65% of APAC total digital revenue, up from 51% in Q1 2017. This means twice as much budget goes to the duopoly as every other digital publisher and ad tech platform in the region put together.

APAC (ex. China) Q1 2018 Digital Ad Revenue Share (%)

Google and Facebook also grew in terms of revenue share across all media, taking 20 cents in every 1 dollar spent in the region. This is up from 15% – or 15 cents in the dollar – last year, and represents an increase in budget flowing from traditional media, including TV and OOH.

The duopoly in perspective

From a global perspective, Facebook and Google have been strengthening their hold over digital advertising budgets for several years. Asia Pacific has actually seen a slower shift in spend than the US or Europe, where Google and Facebook already account for 80% of digital ad revenue.

While there is a huge amount for ad tech to be positive about in 2018, and plenty of genuine tech innovation on the supply side outside the duopoly – mobile, blockchain, digital retail, apps, influencers, and permission-based marketing, are all areas seeing new thinking and growth – the publishing and ad tech industries are in a challenging space right now. Concerns over ad quality and complex value chains, in addition to the impact of Facebook and Google, have left VC money looking for safer havens. With marketing clouds, telcos and consultancies worldwide positioning for unified marketing technology stacks – the acquisition rumours at Cannes in 2018 were even more outrageous than those around the downfall of Sir Martin Sorrell – mad-tech consolidation started several years back, and looks set to accelerate in the years ahead.

But it’s not only the supply side facing increased headwinds. The brave-new-era marketing stacks are already busy hunting brand agency business direct from the major holding groups, using their newly enhanced strategic and tech positioning to situate themselves both upstream closer to the CEOs ear, and downstream on the battlefield of media execution across newly rationalised, open, and addressable programmatic auctions. Whether it’s okay for the auditors to also do the work, is another question of course.

Even Google and Facebook cannot be sitting easy in the face of the increased scrutiny and margin pressure promised by these changes, alongside recent brand safety issues, an emerging 3rd advertising player in Amazon, and a resurgent Twitter. Growing antitrust concerns in the US and EU spurred by a public revolt against the increasing power of the silicon valley tech titans, fears over over-reach into our everyday lives and loss of jobs have also made headlines in 2018. Google and Facebook are yet to crack China, but each is making moves with greater and lesser degrees of success to grow influence in this hugely important global market.

The age of convenience

Human beings have long sought means to make our lives easier. From earliest times with the invention of the stone hand axe, to the swarms of gig economy apps which today get people to clean your apartments, drive you around, do your shopping or deliver you just about anything you can think of, at the touch of a smartphone screen, convenience has been the driving force behind much human-made ingenuity. Most of us in the modern world now expect gratification to be on-demand.

New ways of offering services to customers have significantly changed how organisations and companies operate and compete in all markets. So it is no surprise that the age of convenience has come to our industry. What Uber did for transportation, Netflix for TV, and AirBnB for accommodation, Google and Facebook have done for marketing. And they are justifiably reaping the rewards.

In the on-demand era, there is only one guarantee: money flows to those who offer – or at least appear to offer – the comfort of convenience. This is the inconvenient truth.

Notes

As per last year, numbers are based on Facebook and Google publicly filed earnings information and best industry advertising revenue estimates via the IAB, Zenith and Emarketer among others – but someone out there may have a better view, so corrections welcome. The major assumption in this data is to exclude Chinese advertising spend from Google and Facebook earnings information and APAC industry spend estimates. This is to avoid distorting the data by including a market where Facebook and Google have small (although not insignificant) advertising businesses. All the data is available on a public Google sheet (yes, sorry, it’s Google!) here.

Key References

Facebook Reports First Quarter 2018 Results: https://s21.q4cdn.com/399680738/files/doc_financials/2018/Q1/Q1-2018-Press-Release.pdf

Facebook Q1 2018 Earnings Presentation
https://s21.q4cdn.com/399680738/files/doc_financials/2018/Q1/Q1-2018-Earnings-Presentation-(1).pdf

Alphabet Announces First Quarter 2018 Results
https://abc.xyz/investor/pdf/2018Q1_alphabet_earnings_release.pdf

Unilever Launch new Singapore Innovation Hub

Unilever Foundry and Padang & Co this week launched LEVEL3, a co-working space that pushes the boundaries of collaboration and corporate innovation. Redefining the traditional concept of workspaces, LEVEL3 brings together Unilever, startups, and entrepreneurs to encourage innovation and create new partnerships that deliver real and meaningful business impact.

“LEVEL3 stems from our mission to make sustainable living commonplace. It offers our business a direct connection with disruptive technologies and changemakers to shape the way we work – ultimately impacting people’s lives,” said Pier Luigi Sigismondi, President, South East Asia and Australasia. “LEVEL3 is the springboard for startups to scale and build successful businesses.”

Built within the Unilever regional headquarters in Singapore, the 22,000 sq ft workspace provides proximity to Unilever brands and functions, and access to existing Unilever Foundry programmes. To date, 15 international and local startups have already established themselves at LEVEL3, including Adludio, ConnectedLife, Datacraft, EcoHub, GetCRAFT, Next Billion, Olapic, Snapcart, TaskSpotting and Try and Review.

LEVEL3 focuses on the following areas: Marketing Tech & Ad Tech, Enterprise Tech, Products & Ingredients, New Business Model Innovation and Social Impact.

Asian Brands must be more Innovative than those in the West

According to a recent Razorfish digital marketing report, Asian Marketers must be more innovative and forward-thinking than their western counterparts, to meet the technology-driven expectations of consumers in our region. Asian consumers are not only reporting higher ownership and usage of technology, they also hold higher expectations of brands and technology overall. 

We talk to Joanna Kalenska, Managing Director at Razorfish Hong Kong, about Asian consumers, brands’ challenges and opportunities.

joanna kalenskaDIA: Hi Joanna, how are you?

JK: Doing fantastic, thanks.

DIA: So we’ll leap right in there. Marketers are underestimating the digital divide between Millennials and Gen Xers. How do you think this applies in Asia? Can we even say that Gen X exists in Asia?

JK: What’s fascinating about this region is the fact that when it comes to technology the differences between the generations are minimal. And this came as a clear finding during our global research report Digital Dopamine. It seems that enthusiasm towards technology is age independent in markets like the US or UK, where the differences are more prominent. But not in China for example, where despite a relatively low internet penetration people are more savvy and demanding when it comes to their technology expectations. This lack of legacy has allowed Asian markets to leapfrog directly to quite advance digital behaviors.

Also, culturally, in China, peer-to-peer purchases are part of everyday life, and so social commerce has become a widely accepted, very normal practice. And it is this that has also led to less of a gap between Gen X & Y in China, in so far as digital usage is concerned. Generation X in the West, has had to learn to trust new platforms from the start, compared to Generation Y, who grew up with this practice.

DIA: Brands need to focus more on being useful than on being interesting. Can you talk about how this applies to Asian markets? In markets where a lot of basic infrastructure is missing, do you think brands have more of a role to play?

JK: Absolutely, and precisely for that reason. To win, brands as a service must deliver meaningful utility / value everyday to stand out from the crowd. Digital Dopamine showed us Asian consumers adopt and embrace technology quickly. Often, quicker than brands are able to implement the correct infrastructure to enable experiences at the expected level. Consumers won’t wait for brands to catch up. This means that at the point where longer-term strategies are already defined, brands need to think in a fresh and innovative way. Tech-savvy consumers are not as much interested in a brand’s reputation as before, their loyalty is determined more by the total satisfaction of the brand’s omni-channel experience. Especially in Asia where there is a lot of noise and a lot of choice.

DIA: Omni-channel customers still encounter a number of friction points as they dip between online and offline platforms in search of cross-channel convenience. Do you see any interesting trends or consumer behaviours emerging specific to Asia to solve this issue?

JK: This remains a big challenge for most brands, and therefore consumers. Considering how long this concept has been on the table it’s quite surprising how slow brands are at adapting. The biggest obstacle for real omni-channel is a single view of the customer, which has been restricted because of legacy systems. Smaller, more agile brands have more chance to succeed but they often lack resources and funds to make a real and noticeable difference. To enable a smooth transition and be able to deliver on an omni-channel promise, businesses need the right data and technology infrastructure. This does not, however, stop brands from moving towards platform integration in smart and simple ways. Each business can deliver a short, medium and long-term solution to surprise and delight their customers, examples include extending catalogues online, order online & collect instore initiatives, pick in store & deliver to home or office, and more.

DIA: While we sometimes focus on the rational benefits of technology, digital interactions affect us on a biological and emotional level. Do you see marketers moving brand budget to digital yet at scale? We often think Asia is especially tech obsessed. Is this a more relevant trend here than anywhere else globally?

JK: Nowhere in the world are people as obsessed with their phones as here in Asia. Mobile first – brands have got to be mobile and social, because social proof makes the decision for the buyer.

Secondly, buying online here is very emotional and seen as gifting yourself, providing a digital rush of sorts.

DIA: What’s the future for agencies in a fast, nimble, social media world?

JK: A never-ending funnel of smart and simple ideas. We rely on clever people – that’s our IP. Being curious, quick, yet diligent and considerate has been keeping Razorfish at the top of the consideration list for our clients.

DIA: Do you think Asia has a talent problem in digital marketing and media?

JK: I think the talent problem in digital marketing is not only an Asia issue. Experienced marketers have not caught up with the ever-changing technology, and younger generation often believe that being a native user makes them know what’s required. There are very few professionals who can think and talk at the brand and business level, being at the same time connected to the target audience and the way they engage and embrace technology.

We also live in the time where everything is instant and there seem to be less time for understanding market, product or target audience context. I don’t think WHY is considered before the HOW is agreed. But this takes confidence and experience. In a world where people change jobs every 18 months, there is very little know-how building and seeing the results of your decisions or recommendations – both on the agency and the brand side.

DIA: Is advertising all about the algorithm now? Do you see data and automation emerging as serious trends in your markets?

JK: Yes and No. It can never just be about the algorithm. Real time marketing does require a deeper understanding of the audience and uses programmatic targeting and retargeting to reach them in context, when and where our message is useful. But it also requires smart human truth creative in order to be really effective.

The big problem we have in Asia is a real lack of data-led insights, because firstly, companies have never needed to collect data, they had it very easy until now, and secondly, if they have data, they are very reluctant to share it, because it might give away a competitive advantage. This will change in time once a few players have realized how great data-led insights and briefs can drive transformational execution.

DIA: We see a lot of hype around mobile, but is it really a channel to be taken seriously yet?

JK: Is this a trick question?!

DIA: Not a trick question! We are interested in both the buzz and the reality on the ground. How much attention are your clients putting towards mobile?

JK: Mobile as a content provider, mobile as a device, most of us can’t imagine life without or another channel to push advertising onto. We are asking about rational benefits but aren’t we past that, mobile is affecting us on a biological and emotional level. You can read about these effects in our report, Digital Dopamine. Digital Dopamine points out 87% of Chinese consumers report often feeling dependent on technology, that’s a pretty extreme demonstration of its importance.

Mobile-Mad is Asia, even more than the Middle East. Asian consumers are way ahead of brands in terms of how and what they use their mobiles for. Brands think that a mobile enabled site is enough, well it’s not nearly enough. Content has to be rethought to fit the smartphone screen in its entirety, and still too many clients are thinking about big screen content, which ends up looking ridiculous on the small screen. What’s worse, it doesn’t deliver the value consumers are looking for.

DIA: Oreo famously made a splash during the Super Bowl with a clever tweet during the blackout. Does something like that move the needle, or is it just something we talk about for a tiny cycle and then forget?

JK: I don’t think it’s always about moving a needle. Sometimes it’s about quick, fresh and clever thinking. Oreo did exactly that, clever thought using a popular platform. There was nothing groundbreaking about it, but it was spot on, real time marketing. So few brands are ready for it.

DIA: If you could choose between working in the sleek tech-driven world of modern advertising, or the days of Don Draper and Mad Men, what would you do?

JK: Without a doubt in the sleek tech driven word. I think the task is much more interesting and challenging on many levels. We are being challenged every day, by new technologies, by changes to legislations, new platforms, hardware software, we have to be engaged and interested or we will fall behind very quickly. 15 years ago it was easy to be an expert in a particular field. It took ages before anything changed so you could gain deep experience. We now need to be experts in a new area every day, that’s not easy and it takes a lot of intellectual openness and fresh thinking. Having said that, the creativity and courage of Mad Men mixed with the curiosity and connection of digital would be perfect.

DIA: Thank you for a hugely interesting discussion. Looking forward to chatting again soon.

Latest Research Shows Viewability “Just Works”

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 [2015]

“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.

APAC, the $6bn Mobile gaming opportunity

With close to $6 billion revenue, Asia Pacific is the largest mobile gaming market in the world. Led by Japan, China and South Korea, the category is still growing at 25% annually across the region.

We chat to Jun Lim, Senior Business Development Manager and Lison Chen, Senior Account Manager at AppLift about this promising yet “very fragmented” market opportunity.

DIA: What are the biggest challenges for mobile game advertising in Asia?

JL & LC: The Asian market is very fragmented. Each market is different in terms of language, culture, and economic levels. Advertisers in different markets have different levels of understanding regarding the business model and traffic sources of mobile advertising, and traffic is still centralized by either big international players such as Facebook, Google, and Inmobi or local players such as Wechat in China, KakaoTalk in Korea, and Line in Japan. It is important to understand the situation and preferences in each country, and have a localized strategy to better satisfy the advertisers’ needs and wants.

What are the key opportunities?

The Asian market is still growing. Due to the rise of smartphone penetration and shipments, especially in Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, we continue to see rapidly growing markets in South East Asia. Mid-mature markets such as Korea, Japan, and China are the top countries in terms of revenue in Google Play and App Stores. Mobile marketing trend is changing rapidly into performance-driven, meaning that it is possible to do campaign with measurable numbers.

How is AppLift positioning itself in the region? Which markets have the strongest potential?

AppLift positions itself as a data-driven app marketing platform that helps advertisers to handle the full spectrum of user acquisition. Additionally, AppLift highlights its LTV optimization technology that enables quality user acquisition on a performance basis. For example, in Korea, AppLift ran a non-incentive marketing campaign for RealFarm, a mobile farming game from NeoGames that delivered real vegetables to a few users who reached a certain level. AppLift focused on this interesting aspect of the game, and few months after the campaign, the fact that the game delivers real veggies went on viral through AppLift’s various media partners, resulting in a ROI of 1200%. It was a result of both NeoGames’ well-developed game contents and AppLift’s marketing strategy.

Do you see clients using mobile for brand driven campaigns? How do you position the connection between mobile and other media?

Branding can definitely help to increase the performances of mobile game advertising. Supercell, for example, spent millions of dollars on branded advertising for its game Clash of Clans across multiple channels such as metro, OOH and TV in Korea. Supercell’s massive promotion earned the game the number 1 position in the gross chart on Korea’s Google play even without using [the mobile platform] KakaoTalk. After the success of CoC, it has become quite a norm in Korea to do a huge scale branding / offline campaigns as in the case of mobile games such as Summoners War and Line Rangers. Mobile is such an real time channel in this sense, and brands are really getting to grips with the connection to other media.

Mobile ads have a reputation for low – or at least hard to track – performance. How does AppLift overcome this? Is data a big part of your positioning?

Based on big data, AppLift’s programmatic buying algorithm can target only the relevant audiences and content for a certain game. It can optimize campaigns and target performance improvements against CTR or revenue. These data driven techniques are very standard to advertising globally, and it is great to bring them at scale to APAC markets.

What is AppLift’s strategy to take on the APAC market?

With advanced technologies and know-how in each Asian market, AppLift plans to provide one-stop advertising/user acquisition services to advertisers. Our goal is to help advertisers connect their games/apps to the targeted Asian markets effectively through our technology, data and services.

What is your advice for brand marketers in one sentence?

Asian markets are sexy but challenging. Brand marketers should prepare various advertising strategies to adapt to local markets.

Thank you.

Asia’s Digital Future in Focus

The comScore Digital Future in Focus reports provide some of the most comprehensive coverage of Asia’s Digital landscape. Industry leading research across a series of Asian markets, with insight into search, social, online advertising, mobile and e-commerce. Continue reading Asia’s Digital Future in Focus

The New Digital Advertising Ecosystem Part II

We have already covered the new digital advertising ecosystem at a basic level in a previous post.

Here we wanted to start looking at things in a little more detail with the help of LUMA Partners. Continue reading The New Digital Advertising Ecosystem Part II