Ethan Tsai, co-founder of AdMaster China, said the biggest challenge in China is isolation and fragmentation of the data market, where local players follow different methodologies from their Western counterparts. For instance, China has more than 50 app stores that account for 80 per cent of the market. And whereas globally there are four or five key social-media platforms, China has more than 50.
“It’s a market that skipped third-party ad serving and went directly to programmatic," Tsai added. "There is no legacy data market.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese government plans to integrate modern manufacturing industries with mobile internet, cloud computing and big data. “When the Chinese government makes a statement like this, they will do everything to make it happen,” he added, noting that this presents opportunities to lots of startups.
Programmatic versus audience measurement
Speaking about the debate between programmatic and audience measurement, ComScore’s Jon Nguyen, senior vice-president, APAC, said that although he’s on the audience measurement side, he sees programmatic evolving and expects much more of it. “50 per cent of spend on display is via programmatic," he said. "The debate is not about whether it will happen or not, but how fast it’s going to happen and across what platforms.”
Polish representative Andrzej Garapich, CEO of Polskie Badania Internetu (PBI), siad he doesn’t get the fuss around programmatic. According to him, buying an audience is a job for experienced people who understand consumer needs and advertiser needs—and can make the link between both. "You are not able to do that via a machine," he said. "Programmatic can get you the lowest possible price but it is not an advertising dialogue between brand and consumer."
According to Uwe Scheid, manager of research and innovation for AGOF, an organisation of German online marketers, every market is unique, and big brands prefer easy solutions. “In Germany, the programmatic market accounts for 25 per cent of display advertising, and that’s because publishers don’t want their inventory in exchanges. It’s better business to sell directly.”
Disagreeing, Nguyen said brands and agencies should be willing to pay more for the right audience. “When good publishers put their inventory in, you will eventually get more CPMs. In the short term it’s cheaper and that’s why publishers get scared. We’re increasing digital ad spend, not decreasing it.”
Xaxis’s Marcus Siddons, MD for MENA and UAE, said that in his experience working with significant global clients, programmatic has helped achieve efficiency and consistency. “We would have struggled to do it without programmatic,” he said.
The startup collaboration
An afternoon session featured executives from Pernod Ricard, Unilever and Orange talking about their experiences with the startup ecosystem.
Jeremy Basset, global marketing strategy director with Unilever, said the FMCG giant has already invested 500,000 Euros in startups since its Foundry launched 12 months ago. He said companies are now waking up to the fact that innovation is happening outside their four walls. To make the business-startup collaboration more efficient, brands must involve everyone at multiple levels across the company, he said. “We’ve got great marketing expertise and a huge ad budget to deploy," he said. "But we need a whole bunch of people across levels engaging with startups.”
Pernod Ricard’s operations are more decentralised, said Antonia Mccahon, global digital acceleration director. The alcohol beverage company has been in the space for two years now and has helped develop 10 scalable projects so far. “We may work with 300 startups, but we’re happy with achieving two to three scalable solutions that have strong impact,” she said.
Orange’s Telmo Perez Luaces, VP business development and strategy, said the company has started accelerating innovation in the last couple of years. His interest in startups is primarily around discovering new revenue lines, quality of network and customer experience.