Staff Reporters
Aug 20, 2020

APAC brands must take more responsibility in programmatic: WFA report

Marketers in the region remain more likely than their counterparts around the world to cede control of programmatic buying to agencies, and also lag in demanding more transparency from their partners.

APAC brands must take more responsibility in programmatic: WFA report

Brands in APAC lag behind the rest of the world in not only overall adoption of programmatic buying but also in taking greater control of the task and demanding better supply-chain transparency.

The above conclusions are according to a just-released report from the WFA, Programmatic, Data & Technology Global Survey 2020. Done in partnership with Iponweb, the report is based on responses from 37 companies representing approximately US$76 billion in annual global marketing investment. The researchers took a special look at APAC.

The headline stat: Among WFA members globally, programmatic now accounts for more than two fifths (41%) of global digital media investment, up from 16% in 2016. However, that figure stands at only 20% in APAC, compared with 50% in the US and 31% in Europe.

The report highlights a few other ways APAC differs from the rest of the world, along with key recommendations.

1. Use of independent trading desks and hybrid trading models

Globally, brands have taken greater control and ownership of their buying and data strategies, with the use of independent trading desks, in-house trading desks or hybrid (managed service) models all rising. However, APAC trails in the use of both independent and in-house/hybrid models, with members in this region more likely to license their technology from agencies.

2. Supply chain transparency

Globally, more and more brands are rejecting the concept of the agency as the principal or inventory reseller, with 57% of respondents saying they have a ‘disclosed’ operating model with their trading desk—one in which the trading desk is required to disclose the actual closing/winning bid prices of media purchased, as opposed to providing only a final price, which includes margin and fees. However, in APAC 32% or relationships are still non-disclosed.

3. Focus on first-party data

While marketers broadly understand the importance of first-party data, especially as the world pivots to being more privacy-centric, first-party data is not being fully leveraged. However, those in APAC roles are more confident that they are taking full advantage of their data. This is at least partly because APAC is a mobile-led region. With the continued growth of mobile, TV and audio traffic—none of which need third-party cookies—the region is potentially in a better position than others to succeed in a first-party world, the report notes.

4. Control of data platforms

In APAC, brands are more likely than their global counterparts to have agencies license and execute key tools for data-driven marketing, including DMPs, ad servers and others.

The report has further recommendations for marketers as they work to make the best use of programmatic buying. These include (verbatim from the report):

  • Brands should consider pursuing greater visibility and control across disparate trading platforms and partners to streamline campaign oversight and gain control of key metrics, investment, and optimisation efforts.
  • A ‘disclosed’ programmatic model with ATDs is a start-point, but consider that this does not necessarily equate to complete transparency, as we’ve seen via the recent ISBA/PwC study. To be clear, this is often not for nefarious reasons but is a feature of the current programmatic market (e.g. foreign exchange, etc).
  • Whatever the programmatic model adopted (ATD, hybrid, ITD, etc), the contract with your partners is a key resource in the pursuit of transparency. This needs to be updated regularly (annually).
  • Log-level data is a key ingredient in the effort to understand the transactions taking place in an advertisers’ supply-chain. Advertisers should ensure that their contracts insist on there being a separate DSP ‘seat’ for each client, and that log level data be readily available.
  • Increased focus on supply-path transparency and brand safety, along with privacy regulation, has resulted in media buyers’ renewed interest in direct transactions with preferred publisher partners. These are executed via PMPs or bespoke supply curation tools and commercial arrangements. Advertisers should consider how they can take advantage of these deals, maximising them ahead of Open Marketplace transactions where possible.
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