Ming Liao, head of digital and consumer engagement marketing at Unilever, would like to see an improvement in the commitment from publishers to disclose and share data about the inventory they are making available. “Now we have some relatively good second-party data from platforms such as Alimama's data management platform (DMP), but cross-platform optimisation has become a non-event with big publishers like Baidu and Tencent holding certain power in the programmatic buying space,” he said.
This has caused a problem that inhibits the growth of the market. “I understand the situation is likely to improve as the degree of acceptance gets lower for ad fraud, even within ad monitoring tools. In addition to more accuracy, this can lead to better sales and enhance brand awareness, which is what we want to see,” Liao said.
For a third-party firm, AdMaster is actively seeking “cooperation” from publishers to be willing to open up data in a way that is a win-win for both publishers and brands, as well as to make its job easier. “We do not want to engage in data sparring [when publisher performance deviates from those measured by a third-party],” said Ricky Yang, vice-president of data solutions, AdMaster.
China is just in the beginning of programmatic buying, especially mobile. There are browser cookies on PCs, but there are no uniform standards for mobile devices. “This makes it hard to market “across the screen”. “Say a man had just seen a brand message on his computer, but we can't continue the brand exposure on his phone,” said Derek Kwok, head of Greater China programmatic buyer relations, Google.
Frank Jiang, business director, Accuen China, voiced his concerns about the media giants BAT each being protectionistic to emphasise on the significance of their own platform in the market, such as Baidu's search data, Taobao's sales data, Tencent's personal user data. "Now the problem is how these different media are doing a so-called closed-loop by creating their own DSPs to manage their own data. When we do business with them, they even forgo charging service charges so that clients will only use their platform," he said.
The largest advertisers in China's programmatic buying space are actually gaming companies and e-commerce suppliers, but many retargeting efforts by some e-commerce platforms could do better. "It is not good enough now, for example, I buy a pair of socks, and then I will be served ads for another pair of socks again and again, but in fact, I want someone to push a pair of shoes to me", explained Jiang.
Editor's note: The author, Jenny Chan, also moderated the panel discussion.