Gabey Goh
Apr 6, 2016

Sizmek launches next-gen platform to empower omnichannel marketing

SINGAPORE – As Sizmek rolls out MDX-NXT, its next generation open ad management platform, Asia-Pacific VP Jordan Khoo talks to Campaign Asia-Pacific about plans for the region and the state of play in programmatic, mobile, video and data.

Sizmek's new service claims to enhance ROI across mobile, video, display and programmatic
Sizmek's new service claims to enhance ROI across mobile, video, display and programmatic

The launch of the new MDX-NXT platform marks a significant milestone for the ad tech company, amounting to a rebuild of its ad tech stack to a “cloud-based modular suite”.

“We’ve built this powerful platform from the ground up,” said Khoo. “It takes the complexity out of digital campaign management, and frees up ad operations teams to engage in more high-value strategic work.”

Touted to enable agencies and brands to get better media investment returns on their digital spend across mobile, video, display and programmatic, work on the platform began two years ago, and has been beta tested by about 100 clients.

The new platform is also in line with Sizmek’s ambition to strengthen its position against Google’s DoubleClick. According to Alexa, Sizmek has the second-largest ad server market share, holding 9.8 percent compared to DoubleClick’s 63.9 percent.

It is designed to help marketers build and target ads, buy media, manage data and campaigns and evaluate their success across all of the digital touchpoints (mobile phones, desktops, tablets and in-store) they choose to utilize.

It features new visual workflows, which simplify the process of building and executing holistic strategies that engage consumers. Now available across Southeast Asia, additional capabilities are also slated to be added throughout the year.

Khoo added that advertisers in Asia, and around the world, want two things: the provision of independent sources of data and a consolidated platform that can tie all the components of digital advertising together.

“Our feedback from brand marketers in Asia is they want transparency with their digital advertising spend, and they want to reduce the amount of point solutions in their ad tech stack,” Khoo said.

“In an era where marketers are seeking to do more with less, we think Sizmek is well positioned to deliver value, and a seamless ad creation and execution platform across all formats,” he added.

Sizmek has been active in the Asia-Pacific region for the last 12 years and currently has 14 offices in the region, employing over 150 people.

Khoo said the company has definite plans to further expand operations in Asia this year.

“We will make announcements in the near-term that relate to the expansion of our engineering team in Southeast Asia,” he added. “Many of our competitors only run sales operations in the region, however, we know from experience that brands want local support to meet the needs of the diverse Southeast Asian market.

Sizmek is also expanding its headcount for its programmatic business unit, including StrikeAd, the mobile DSP it acquired last year for US$11.7 million.

“We continue to strengthen and grow our relationships with agencies and their trading desks in the region and expect our dedicated programmatic practice to deliver some big wins this year,” he added.

State of play: Q&A with Jordan Khoo

Sizmek is betting big on programmatic, mobile, video, data. What’s the situation in Asia and are brands pulling all their assets together yet?

Growth in these four areas continues to show great momentum. In Asia, we are beginning to see advertisers executing a much more integrated digital strategy in collaboration with their agency partners. The siloed, or point solution, approach is on the way out, similar to the way that ad networks are struggling.

Video and mobile is exploding and every brand that is invested in digital is looking for the magic formula, including finding a trusted partner that can help them consolidate and activate their data, streamline operations and get better returns on their investments.

Unilever recently announced their ULTRA trading desk, which really sets and defines the framework for brands moving forward. We see this initiative as setting a benchmark in the Asian region.

Finally, brands need to understand what metrics and measurement systems work best for their products and services.

The rise of services in ad tech is an emerging topic of industry discussion. Do you think this is the “missing piece” for accelerating the implementation of programmatic advertising in Asia?

Unlike the West, the biggest challenge in Asia is having the right talent and digital expertise. Without some in-house expertise, a lot of brands will not be able to keep up the rapid pace of change in consumer behaviour and technology, especially in regards to programmatic.

Hence, the need for managed services in the region is more apparent than ever and tech partners can play a huge role in supporting advertisers with education and training.

This services layer will need to go hand in hand with continued investment by all parties to train and grow the talent pool across advertisers and agencies in the region.

Over the next 12 to 24 months, we will see the emergence of new players in the form of independent service providers and the business consulting companies like Accenture, Deloitte and IBM coming into the fold.

Sizmek is a big proponent of open ad management. In conversations with clients, what kinds of concerns are being expressed around issues of independent data sources and access walled gardens?

You can’t be both the jury and the judge. You don’t grade your own homework. I can go on and on. The reality today is that both Google and Facebook are big proponents of walled gardens and it makes viable business sense for them as they own the runway at the moment. It was similar for Yahoo a few years ago.

However, the “wall” will need to come down at some point because walled gardens don’t promote transparency, corporate governance and creates silos for brands in the long term.

Advertisers have to recognise this challenge and demand more openness from their media owner partners. Sizmek, as an independent third party, is advocating the open ad management concept, and we continue to rally our fellow open platform partners to drive awareness and advocacy for continued openness in the digital space.

Other vendors such as TubeMogul have launched aggressive ad campaigns in a bid to educate the industry about the downside of walled gardens. What’s Sizmek’s strategy in terms of addressing this issue?

I compliment TubeMogul for taking this step. We believe there will be more players that will continue to amplify the same message. We started vocalizing the need for an open ad management approach some time ago.

At Sizmek we will remain focused on our clients, ensuring we provide them with the solutions and toolsets to deliver the best media experience and performance. We believe in long-term partnerships with brands, not short-term buzzword-based campaigns.

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