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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Following a spate of misplaced ad scandals and fake news controversies,brand safety is commonly acknowledged as one of the most pressing challenges currently facing marketers looking to reach digital audiences.
But the impact on, and reaction of, consumers to issues around brand safety is less well documented.
According to latest research from Reuters, Tomorrow’s News 2018, a high proportion of consumers believe brands are responsible for where their ads are running.
62% of consumers believe “brands have full control over where their advertising appears”.
The majority of consumers (77%) also say that advertising next to ‘unsavoury or objectionable’ stories can damage their perception of a brand. Worryingly, 75% have seen brands advertising alongside unsavoury or objectionable stories or videos. And while 81% feel that Facebook and Google should be ‘held accountable’ for the content they carry on their platforms, they are unaware of their role in brand safety. Reuters respondents believe the buck stops with advertisers.
Impartiality, trust & integrity
Ad agencies and tech companies alike, are being forced to pay more attention to good governance, and collaborations with trusted partners to avoid these types of challenges.
With this in mind, the value of impartiality, honesty and integrity also featured strongly in the Reuters analysis. A huge majority of global respondents said they were more likely to turn to professional publishers, such as online news brands, over social media for trusted content, with 86% more likely to turn to online news brands for “trusted content in a trusted environment”.
The uncomfortable truth in our digital age is that it’s not always clear where online ads are running. And yet, consumers – perhaps unsurprisingly – have little idea of the problems of programmatic, vulnerable supply chains or, most importantly, the huge role that Google and Facebook play in the process.
Investment in brand-safe environments and trusted partnerships is supported by numerous studies recently, from Group M to IAS – and they all show the link between brand safety and performance. Now we can add that this is something consumers are also clamouring for.
Reuters Tomorrows News 2018
You can also read and download the full report here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Below we’ve collected a series of takeaway resources covering the key digital trends in Vietnam.
Mobile Ecosystem Report Vietnam 2017/18
Vietnam mobile ecosystem and digital sizing report from Group M and the MMA.
Digital in Vietnam 2018
Key data covering the Vietnam digital landscape.
Digital Marketing Agency & Marketer Landscape in Vietnam
Vietnam digital marketing overview from an advertiser and agency perspective.
Vietnam Digital Landscape 2017
Detailed overview of digital stats and consumer internet data in the Vietnam market.
Vietnam Digital Trends 2017
Trends to watch out for across the Vietnamese consumer internet.
Vietnam ICO & Blockchain Market
Overview of the emerging blockchain and ICO scene in Vietnam.
Vietnam Today – The Digital Economy
In depth report looking at the future digital transformation of Vietnam.
PWC Vietnam Spotlight
Deep dive into Vietnam as an investment opportunity and information technology driven market.
Vietnam Esports Market Report 2018
Insight into the growth of Esports in Vietnam..
In terms of other resources, check out Vietcetera for wider coverage of Vietnam, Tech In Asia for tech news, or Geektime and ICTNews for tech news… if you speak Vietnamese. Finally, you can find out all the practical information you need to know about the start-up scene in Vietnam at this Google Doc.
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.
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?
Programmatic Direct combines the best of direct sales with the targeting and automation benefits of programmatic. PMPs are now a popular method of programmatic trading.
For publishers, PMPs give tighter control on which kinds of advertisers and creatives will be displayed on their site or app, while not having to manage individual advertisers like they would in a direct buy.
For buyers, PMPs allow access to premium quality inventory, and all the bespoke benefits of working directly with a seller – but also allow use of data, targeting and reporting from a single DSP dashboard.
Typically CPMs are higher in a PMP because premium advertisers are competing for the highest quality ad inventory on very reputable digital properties.