Gabey Goh
Apr 20, 2016

AsiaMX: 'We'll bring to life programmatic buying for TV'

SINGAPORE – Asia Media Exchange (AsiaMX) has launched its programmatic TV advertising exchange, touting access to over US$60 million in advertising assets on behalf of leading pay-TV and free-to-air networks in the region.

Basil Chua
Basil Chua

The exchange is aimed at offering advertisers better targeting and privileged access to high-value linear TV advertising assets in addition to the benefits garnered from an automated trading process.

The launch follows the startup’s announcement made in mid-March that it had closed a “six-figure” funding round from a syndicate including both angel investors and Marvelstone-backed 10K Asia, its accelerator arm.

TV advertising in Asia Pacific is projected to reach US$53 billion in 2019 according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. In addition, McKinsey noted that TV remains “the largest and most important advertising asset” for brands seeking to reach their target audiences.

Basil Chua, CEO of AsiaMX said despite the dominance of TV as the advertising channel of choice, programmatic TV business in the region remains nascent.

In an interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, he noted that it has “taken off somewhat” in the United States, with Fox being the latest TV network to get into the programmatic game.

“That’s huge and exciting for us, as it serves to endorse the benefits of programmatic TV to the industry. It’s a positive sign that the industry is moving in the right direction,” Chua added.

Ranga Somanathan, Starcom Mediavest Group's COO for Southeast Asia noted that linear TV has always resisted making inventory available to a public exchange in order to better control the pricing mechanism.

“Even though the programme ratings have been decreasing overtime, due to the paucity of airtime, the networks are running their commercial breaks at its seams,” he said in response to queries by Campaign Asia-Pacific.

“As such, keeping control of the inventory allows media owners to price their inventory at a premium,” he added.

Somanathan pointed out that most media agencies have instead invested and developed their own systems to integrate media inventory with viewership data, and pipping it back into their systems.

“For example at Starcom, we have Tardiis, which optimises across multiple screens and platforms,” he shared.

Chua said that despite signs of the TV industry moving toward programmatic, “full-on adoption” requires open-mindedness among TV networks and buyers and a thirst to make the industry more efficient.

“Remember the days when programmatic ad buying was first introduced? See how far it has come and it’s commonplace today,” he added. “Everything goes through an adoption curve and AsiaMX intends to be both enabler and facilitator.”

“TV networks will use our software platform and algorithms to automate the buying and selling of their inventory,” he added. “We’re the guys who will bring programmatic TV to life for both sellers and sellers so both sides will eventually start to embrace its capabilities and benefits.”

Chua claims that AsiaMX is the first programmatic TV exchange in Asia, while globally, companies such as TubeMogul and The Trade Desk would be counted as competitors.

 

Premium inventory

At launch, the exchange lays claim to US$60 million in programmatic advertising assets, which includes premium prime-time, off prime-time, online video and mobile advertising inventory.

The inventory comes courtesy of A+E Networks Asia, Turner Asia Pacific, as well as Thailand’s BEC-Tero Entertainment and Nation Broadcasting Corporation – part of the first wave of TV networks to have signed up with the exchange.

AsiaMX’s chief commercial officer Nick Chuah said the company is “confident” TV networks will see new revenue and improved inventory utilisation.

“We are proud to partner with A-list linear and online TV networks to bring this big idea to reality,” he added.

The list of channels:

  • Turner Asia Pacific
    • Cartoon Network
    • Boomerang
    • Toonami
    • WarnerTV
    • Oh!K
  • A+E Networks Asia
    • History
    • H2
    • Lifetime
    • FYI
  • NationTV
  • BEC-Tero Entertainment (CH3)

Also included in the first wave are Thailand’s most reputable online television networks OTV Corporation, Dek-D Interactive and Asia Satellite TV (ASTV). They offer simulcast video streaming from TV channels and on-demand services.

Using data and automation, the exchange is intended to enable advertisers to optimise their advertising campaign planning, booking, management and reporting.

Through the platform, advertising campaigns can be set up in mere minutes, simplifying a traditionally manual and tedious process.

Chua said the exchange will also incorporates audience measurement data from leading market research companies for improved accountability. The company is expected to announce soon which research firms it will be working with.

The exchange is positioning itself as a provider of high-value 'first-look' advertising assets that are brand-safe and have 100 percent viewability.

Chua said the company adheres to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) definition which defines a “viewable” impression as one that is at least 50 percent visible for at least one second.

“By default, television advertisements are considered 100 percent viewable, since the entire duration of the television advertisements are shown and unblocked,” he added.

Adoption outlook

Starcom’s Somanathan noted that with the growth in the number of video distribution platforms across the region, AsiaMX would be in a good position, if it gets it right.


Ranga Somanathan

“They will be able to take a marketplace which is unorganized and organise it using their technology, creating value for all stakeholders, from consumers, clients, channels to agencies,” he added. “The service surely will be meaningful as it will democratise inventory and assign monetary value based on real audiences.”

Somanathan said that the momentum AsiaMX can build, with long tail content, has the potential to convince mainstream linear TV players to pipe-in their scheduling system into the platform.

He noted that transparency of inventory demand and audiences; agility in buying and ability to pipe-in to the respective finance modules of agencies will be critical to its success.

Asked where he sees an exchange like AsiaMX fitting in with the current landscape, Somanathan said it has the potential to complement the industry’s existing platforms.

“In fact, if done right, could improve the performance of agency solutions, such as Publicis Media’s Audience On Demand,” he added. “This takes us further in our journey of buying audiences rather than buying inventory.”

Chua said the company sees itself as “partners from the supply side” and complementing all players in the ecosystem, enabling a holistic “cross-media sales strategy, with an audience-first approach” with its data-driven platform.

Ultimately, he added, brand marketers will have their hands on deeper audience data and metrics to deliver more targeted and relevant ads.

“Both buyers and sellers will experience huge improvements in workflow and trading efficiencies to the ecosystem,” said Chua. “All these benefit the entire industry, which ultimately translates to advancements across the entire ecosystem.”

He said next steps for the team would be expanding its footprint in Southeast Asia, followed by North Asia. In tandem, it will focus on growing the advertising assets and access to inventory to unlock “greater and wider reach to more audiences” across the region.

AsiaMX’s TV advertising exchange is now open for trading via demand-side platform (DSP) DataXu, with more accredited DSPs slated to be announced in the coming months. It can also be accessed via an authenticated login at www.asiamx.com.

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