Staff Writer
Feb 22, 2023

How adtech maturity can make programmatic advertising more efficient in a post-cookie world

At a roundtable organised by Xandr featuring participants from dentsu, Lotame, and Accor, the panel discussed how a mature adtech model driven by curation and first-party data helps all participants in the digital advertising ecosystem

(L-R) Shawn Lim, editor of media and technology, Campaign Asia-Pacific; Nishanth Raju, managing director, Asia, Lotame; Sunil Naryani, chief product officer, APAC, dentsu; Tom Dover, director of video marketplaces, APAC, Xandr; Sanket Sasane, director of paid media, Southeast Asia, Japan, and South Korea, Accor.
(L-R) Shawn Lim, editor of media and technology, Campaign Asia-Pacific; Nishanth Raju, managing director, Asia, Lotame; Sunil Naryani, chief product officer, APAC, dentsu; Tom Dover, director of video marketplaces, APAC, Xandr; Sanket Sasane, director of paid media, Southeast Asia, Japan, and South Korea, Accor.
“How do we create consistent campaigns with seamless communication to target a user through the entire journey without overlap — and keep it as efficient as possible?” This question from Accor’s Sanket Sasane, director of paid media, Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea sums up a key challenge facing marketers. Sasane was speaking at a roundtable organised by Xandr in partnership with Campaign Asia-Pacific to discuss challenges in digital advertising, particularly in a cookieless world. Other panellists included Sunil Naryani, chief product officer, APAC, at dentsu; Nishanth Raju, managing director, Asia, at Lotame; and Tom Dover, director of video marketplaces, APAC, at Xandr. 
Campaign Asia-Pacific’s editor of media and technology, Shawn Lim, moderated the discussion.
Here are the key takeaways.
Marketers and agencies are working towards solutions to the twin challenges of audience fragmentation and accessibility 
The pandemic has accelerated the process of digitalisation for consumers and brand owners alike.
However, the rapid uptick in digitally driven communication has brought complexity in its wake, even for categories with a high degree of adtech maturity, like travel. As the industry booms buoyed by the ‘revenge travel’ phenomenon, a challenge for marketers like Accor is finding solutions that capture and create more demand. A highly fragmented audience has made this an even tougher task. Sasane said, “We don’t have many partners who can consolidate media for us. There are too many overlaps between programmatic inventories and platforms.”
Among Accor’s partners that are taking on this challenge are dentsu, and Xandr which powers a global marketplace for premium advertising, with a full ecosystem at play on the buy and sell sides. 
Speaking about Accor’s relationship with its agency, Sasane said, “We have a framework based on different stages of the consumer journey, which helps dentsu’s approach to media planning. There are also supply-side solutions in place to improve the quality of our inventory and drive campaign performance.”
Describing dentsu’s approach, Naryani said, “We start with an audit of the client’s current setup, including media mix, supply partners and tech stack with emphasis on their first-party data. The aim is to assess the scale, quality, and structure of the data along with supply sources to mobilise a plan for improving their adtech maturity.” This data is supplemented by dentsu’s Merkury platform which has scaled audience profiles to enhance the client’s datasets.
Dentsu has been pushing for adtech maturity for a couple of years now. According to Naryani, the agency has robust set of best practices in place with demand-side platforms (DSPs) and for supply curation. However, he added, “The understanding of supply side, which accounts for the inventory deal types, quality of media and the publisher ecosystem, is still not common knowledge. As practitioners we need to educate our teams and the industry further so as to leverage the full potential of supply curation for marketing.” 
The panel agreed that direct interaction with the publisher usually worked the best. Naryani said, “In the adtech supply chain, many intermediaries exist who may not necessarily add value, but contribute to the tech tax and are inefficient over time.” 
However, where direct approaches are not feasible, dentsu works with partners like Xandr and Lotame who possess relevant, rich, scaled local data sources. An example of this is curated data marketplaces. Explaining this phenomenon, Lotame’s Raju said, “It starts with curating a list of publishers scoped to specific verticals, markets, or regions – for example, finance, parenting, or automobiles in Asia. We then enable the creation of custom audience segments broken down by verticals and overlaid with demographics and intent along with branded datasets distributed via the marketplace such as spend data from Mastercard or consumer data from Nielsen. Agencies and brands can then activate these audience segments on curated inventory to reach the right users in the right places to help drive value at both the top and bottom of the funnel.”
The curation process at dentsu encompasses both inventory supply and audience sets. Naryani said, “It ensures holistic planning and drives the next wave of adtech maturity. Our audience solutions are durable in nature i.e. ready for a cookieless world. Where relevant, we complement it with contextual intelligence solutions where the objective is curating the most relevant publisher placements to deliver on the campaign objectives.”
This transparency is welcomed by brand owners. Xandr’s Tom Dover noted, “It’s important for advertisers to see the true supply path. With curation, it’s one single source of reporting. You can see exactly where that money has gone over a particular timeframe.”
The cookieless world is already here
The importance of first-party data and curation are particularly critical in a world where tracking audiences via third-party cookies is losing relevance. Even as Google pushes its deadline to eliminate third-party cookies on its widely used Chrome browser, marketers and their partners have already begun to explore cookie-free options. 
Lotame’s Raju said, “Despite the delays from Google, brands shouldn’t wait to develop and implement a cookieless strategy. Testing today is the only way to be prepared for this tomorrow.” Such tests are already underway on browsers like Safari and Firefox which can be used as a proxy for a cookieless environment. Raju said, “The results we see with Lotame Panorama ID™ proves that cookieless addressability/targeting delivers and importantly, at scale. I’d love to see a day when a single ID flows all the way from the buy side to the sell-side platforms to enable seamless attribution across the ad ecosystem.”
Another question clients are grappling with is on parity of performance as they transition to a cookie-free system. Sasane said, “We are already in discussions on some advanced audience solutions which are cookieless, where we want to resolve identity and addressability issues from an overall marketing standpoint.”
Retail media is growing in importance
Retail media, which refers to the media owned and operated by retail platforms, is a great example of how customer data (first-party data) and curation can be leveraged to offer highly targeted advertising opportunities for brand owners. Naryani said, “Recognising the importance of targeted ads at the point of sale we are witnessing a surge in retail media in our region with Amazon, Lazada, and Shopee being prime examples. Collaborative ads from Facebook in measurement partnership with Lazada and Shopee for conversion data pass back is another interesting example pointing to the fact that we can expect more growth, innovation, and partnerships in the retail media space.”
A mature adtech ecosystem has far-reaching consequences beyond effective targeting and optimising budgets
The lack of efficient targeting doesn’t just result in wasted budgets and missed audiences. It is also a huge contributor to the environmental impact of the communications business, estimated to be to 5.4 tons of carbon dioxide for a typical online ad campaign. 
Having a consolidated view of the carbon footprint, could help agencies answer questions posed by environmentally conscious clients. Dover said, “You have to trace that all the way down to where your dollars are going as well.”
Lotame’s Raju added, “The overall cost of high-quality media and trusted data is rising, as are the amount of transactions, server calls and media wastage in the programmatic ad ecosystem today. The sooner we embrace efficiencies in supply and carbon path optimisation, the better for our industry and planet.”
Naryani mentioned, “Dentsu is pursuing media decarbonisation initiatives in order to reduce the emissions associated with media supply chain and play its part.”
Adtech maturity is essential for the continued relevance and survival of agencies
Holding companies like dentsu are focusing on solutions that are future proofed and differentiated because it is where brands see value. Having a global network helps dentsu export these approaches of curation and measurement across geographies. Naryani said, “The platformisation helps take this even to markets that are not as far along the curve when it comes to adtech maturity.” The ultimate goal is to have a credible consistent answer to the question about reaching a consumer with seamless, efficient communication that addresses the business goals for the clients.
Campaign Asia

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