Tag Archives: agency

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.

Myanmar Digital Trends 2018

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.

Myanmar is extremely hot with VC investment right now, built on the amazing speed of consumer growth in mobile and app usage.

iKorea: Media Reps – Past, Present, and Future

iKorea is a new column by Soyoon Bach, a Digital Marketing professional in Seoul, covering developments in the Korean digital ecosystem.

If you work in advertising in Korea, you will most definitely have heard of the term “rep sa.” “Rep” is short for “representative” and “sa” in Korean means “company.” This is a shortened phrase for agencies that Koreans refer to as “media representatives.” So what exactly are media reps?

The general hierarchy of the Korean digital advertising landscape goes like this:

Advertiser → Ad Agency → Media Rep → Publishers

Simply put, media reps act as liaisons between agencies and publishers. They arrange the sale of media inventory on behalf of advertisers (or agencies). Media reps also provide media plans, intricate reporting, optimization recommendations, updates about the newest publishers and ad types, etc. Many media reps have proprietary technologies that make setting up ads easier, provide key insights, and run ads more efficiently.

The first ever media rep can be traced back to 1980 with the establishment of KOBACO. They were resellers for TV ad inventory and became the sole entity to control all the domestic TV ad inventory. They retained their power until a constitutional court ruled this as illegal monopolistic practice.

Since then, Korea has diversified its media rep offerings and media reps have especially become a key player in the complicated world of digital advertising. Usually, ad agencies don’t have the time or resources to keep contact with every single publisher or media platform out there and know which ones are best for their needs. This is where media reps come in. They synthesize all media-related information and updates and provide agencies with the insights they need. They let us know which creative is best served on which platform. Some platforms also have strict inventory booking processes. There are minimum spends, minimum ad periods, and cancellation fees. Media reps keep track of these processes and give ad agencies a heads up when they think certain bookings will become an issue.

The initial idea of media reps started out as a broker, a simple reseller. Now, they have evolved to so much more. They are media agencies for ad agencies, providing critical services that they can’t get from publishers directly. For instance, if an ad agency is working with multiple media platforms without a media rep, it’ll be up to them to individually communicate and negotiate with the publishers, set up the ads, aggregate the data, and compile the reporting. However, when you go through a media rep, they provide all these services for you so that you can spend more time tending to your clients.

Because this is such a common practice that’s taken for granted, it’s easy to forget that there are actually no regulations in place regarding this process. There’s no restrictions preventing agencies from bypassing media reps and going directly to the publishers. Similarly, there’s nothing to stop media reps from reaching out directly to advertisers. However, this practice continues to exist because this breakdown and distribution of tasks lets everyone do their jobs more easily.

A client can have one contact point for all their media dealings (the agency) instead of having to individually contact the publishers. Agencies can also focus more on making creatives and strategizing on the overarching direction of the campaigns. Media reps gain more clients and without much effort by teaming up with an agency and publishers also have the same benefits by teaming up with a media rep. The benefits are so real that Korean publishers will also pay back some of the money to media reps or agencies as a sales commission. And this commission could be as high as 20%.

For how much longer this model will persist, only time can tell. But media reps are already starting to feel the onset of programmatic media buying as a threat to their business. Global agencies are receiving pressures from their global headquarters to implement systems such as DBM and manage it internally, taking some business away from media reps. Media reps are frantically trying to develop their programmatic departments so that agencies will still be incentivized to use them for these services.

What’s for sure is that we’re hitting another disruptive phase in digital advertising and how media reps will fit into this picture is still to be determined.