Byravee Iyer Nikki Wicks
Nov 19, 2014

Programmatic no longer a buzzword in Asia: Marketing Innovation Summit

SINGAPORE - Programmatic is no longer just a buzzword in Asia, but challenges still abound, as we discovered at Campaign Asia-Pacific’s inaugural Marketing Innovation Summit here yesterday.

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Some of the region’s leading brand marketers and digital players gathered in Singapore yesterday to discuss the latest trends and other thought provoking issues centering around programmatic buying.

Here we round up some of the day's highlights. At the end, you can find a Twitter widget showing activity on the #MktgInnovSummit hashtag.

Panel: Making the leap to programmatic buying

The opening panel centered around the adoption of programmatic in Southeast Asia featured Ryan Fergusun, head of platform solutions and innovation, Google Southeast Asia; Travis Teo, SAP’s manager of integrated media and brand experience; and Starwood’s digital marketing director Janice Chan. Fergusun sees an uptick in usage from performance driven businesses and clients that understand that they are no longer buying media but audiences.

Chan, a big proponent of programmatic says it is about taking a huge leap and believing in the eco-system. “Most client marketers are not equipped to handle that volume of data and I suspect agencies aren’t either.” She says “minority report”, referencing the sci-fi movie, is happening and that base-foundation advertising will eventually become automated. At Starwood, Chan tries to allocate a certain budget to her agency simply to try and test new platforms.

Teo’s biggest hurdles are the complexity of the eco-space and issues of data privacy. “People don’t want to know that you know so much about them. There’s a fine line between personalisation and creepy,” Chan agreed. Her other challenge is getting publishers to give up premium inventory.

Panel: Programmatic buying as part of the online marketing mix

For Rupa Rajamani, head of owned and earned media, digital, Standard Chartered Bank, programmatic has gone from being a line item in a media plan to becoming the whole media plan. “In 2015, I would imagine shifting all our buys programmatically.”

John Sinke, assistant VP digital marketing, ecommerce & social media for Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) had a more cautious view. “We’re fascinated by the developments in programmatic but don’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture,” he said. At RWS, programmatic accounts for about 70 per cent of display buys. “It’s important to keep an eye on the big picture and not go blindly into programmatic. There is a role for each channel both online and offline.”

Intel’s web marketer Ajay Mohan agreed with Sinke’s approach. Experimenting with programmatic in Indonesia, Mohan’s objective was to get first timers to buy computers. He admits that Intel got far better results in terms of operational metrics but that the creatives weren’t targeting the buyers it wanted to address. “You cannot just go out there and use one broad brush.” Where all three panelists agreed was around the changing relationship with the media agency. “The media agency exists for a reason. Programmatic solves only one portion of the media plan. We still need the agency for search, direct buys and strategy,” Rajamani observed. You’ll be able to hear more of her views on 26 November when Rajamani joins Campaign’s next free webinar examining programmatic buying.

Panel: How to maximise the programmatic way

The biggest challenge from a programmatic standpoint is having a single unified digital tracking platform, according to Hari Shankar, head of Asia Pacific, paid media, PayPal. “Tracking a single person once and not multiple times is easier said than done.”

Different brands are at different stages of evolution, Shankar pointed out. “I know a lot of well known brands that are questioning the efficacy of certain channels. It is about proving the base level of understanding and that means building a business case.”

Ian Darric Macariola, head of digital marketing, BeMyGuest, had a more simplistic view of things. For a startup like BeMyGuest it goes back to analytics and data, he explained, and what matters is cost-per-click and cost-per-acquisition. “We’re trying a lot of channels and will spend more where it makes sense. However, we also have to look at the long run because we have investors in the mix.”
For Kimberly Clark’s Eddy Chan the challenge is very different. The company, which rolled out programmatic in the United States a while ago, is now focused on getting the process started here. “We’re in 40 different markets with different sizes and the same platform is unlikely to work everywhere. It means that we have to tackle it country-by-country.”

Workshops

The afternoon sessions saw a change in the format as guests were invited to split into two different workshop streams. Martin Li, search and performance marketing lead at Singtel headed a session on ‘scoring a hat-trick with programmatic’. His football analogy wasn’t only restricted to the title of the workshop. Li highlighted that programmatic is still largely misunderstood and said that many marketers still don’t know exactly what it is. At Singtel, much of the focus is currently on video. “Programmatic is a must for everyone working in advertising and marketing and Asia is taking the lead,” he said. “Especially when it comes to video.” Comparing programmatic to football, Li described the key to succeeding in programmatic as like picking a winning team. “It’s about finding the best mix of players and picking the best team,” he said. Adding: "Programmatic is not about doing less and getting more. It’s about doing more and getting more”

Throughout the day, trends began to emerge and one piece of advice that came up repeatedly was that marketers should be willing to experiment with programmatic. “Adopt a ‘test and learn’ culture,” said Matt Ware commercial director at MediaMath. “The ability to test is often overlooked. Through programmatic you can really adopt that ‘fail fast’ culture, where you can try things, change them in real-time and improve,” he said. “Testing is crucial for maximum effectiveness with programmatic. Test early and test often. Test your promotional channels, programmatic platforms and your programmatic strategies.”

Another issue that dominated conversations throughout the day was brand safety. Rob Pachter, director of sales, SE Asia at Integral Ad Science, gave an insightful talk on factors affecting brand safety. Ensuring that advertisements appear alongside appropriately aligned content is just one element that brands need to consider. Having protective measures in place “can really help brands maximize their reach and efficiency with their ads,” he said. Pachter identified a number of risks for brands using programmatic, including fraudulent impressions that never have the potential to be seen by a human being, and ad stacking (placing multiple ads on top of one another in a single ad placement, with only the top ad in view).

Panel: Brand safety

In the last panel of the day, Xpand’s regional practice director Dan Sheppard led a talk where brand safety was again front and centre, as panelists discussed how brands can protect themselves. Commenting on fraud, Robert Woolfrey, APAC MD at Millennial Media said:I look at fraud as a normal thing that’s happening in an ecosystem where there’s a lot of dollars involved. It’s a natural thing that the industry is going through right now.” Shirley Lau from TubeMogul said that while technology to prevent fraud is always improving, so is the technology facilitating fraud. “With technology there’s never a way to be 100 per cent brand safe. But we’re always looking at ways to improve. It’s important that brands are educated about all aspects of programmatic, including brand safety.”

Panel: Future technology to programmatic buying

Bringing the day to a close, Damien Crittenden, director, insights & analytics Asia Pacific at Xaxis looked at future trends in programmatic. He identified wearable technology, cross-platform solutions and human creativity as key things that will drive the industry in 2015 and beyond. “They’ll be a bigger human element and a bigger role for creativity,” he predicted. “We’ll see a larger focus on ideas and creative use of data and tech.” Commenting on the future of fraud, he added: “Technology innovation is working both for and against us in the battle against fraud. Whilst we develop technology against it, fraudsters are also creating and developing new technologies, driven by huge profits to be made.”

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