Launched six years ago by founder, Peter Mason, Addition+ first started on the supply side, working primarily with publishers and media owners on developing content categories. Addition+ is now purely on the demand side.
Update: Addition+ has reached out to state that Addition+ "did not grow out of" supply-side service provider Advanced International Media (AIM), but declined to clarify the nature of Addition+'s relationship to either AIM or Asian Integrated Media stating only that the businesses are separate.
Despite its below-the-radar existence, Addition+ has worked with brands such as Dell, Anantara, Finnair, Caxton FX and Swift.
While Addition+ has been trading in the region for many years, since 2008, client interest has driven its to establish a physical presence in Asia more recently. In the third quarter of 2015, the agency established its Hong Kong office as a regional headquarters. It then went on to launch its Beijing and Singapore offices at the start of this year.
Rupert Harrow, executive director of AIM Asian Integrated Media, expanded his role in December 2015 to include regional managing director of Addition+'s operations in Asia-Pacific. He is supported by Edward Lee in Hong Kong and Vincent Lim in Singapore.
In this exclusive interview with Mason, Campaign Asia-Pacific gets a first look at the region’s new programmatic player.
Campaign: So where does Addition+ fall on the Lumascape?
Peter Mason: It’s hard to say. It changes every time I look at it. The best way to categorise, at present, is as an independent trading desk. However, the trading desk label ignores the human side. We’re very much about fusing together strategy and computer science and technology. We don’t believe you can’t have just one without the other. We’re in a blue water sort of space.
Isn’t that what media agencies offer?
Often, the programmatic arms sit separately from planning and buying teams in agencies. We do work with agencies where we provide them with more tech-neutral solutions.
If you’ve been around for six years, why has there been no coverage on you?
The truth is, we’ve worked on both sides (supply and demand) until 18 months ago and we’ve stayed completely under the radar. We’ve taken all this time to pick our direction because we were content to grow organically through sales; we weren’t pushing for VC capital. We may have taken a little too long to pick a direction, but on hindsight that may not have been such a bad thing given the volatility of this sector. Now we’ve gone demand-side and we feel the positioning is right, we’ve planned an expansion and a push.
What is that positioning? What is your advantage?
The history of the company is an enormous help to us in this space. We found that we were sitting on a bunch of things that were very compelling, such as strong relationships with publishers and a deep understanding of how content publishers work. We have an almost unrivalled publisher partnership network, combined with very sophisticated computer science and statistic brains. And we’ve held all this from very early in the technology revolution. Using this, we’ve put all our effort into connecting the full user experience journey from publisher to advertiser—something other brands in this space have not spent that much time on. So what clients gain from us is transparency, visibility, insight and a fully connected view of where their audiences are across multiple channels.
How different do you find doing business in China?
Well, we found that the methodologies and practices we’ve developed elsewhere that have worked well for us just don’t apply in China. We’ve had to develop a different set of processes and we lean a lot on direct publisher relationships. I’d say our biggest challenge in the market is the lack of transparency we face on occasion.
What would you say are the biggest misconceptions around programmatic?
Often people don’t understand its origins and they shroud it in smoke and mirrors. Many parties in this space have a vested interest in keeping their ignorance shrouded and making things complicated. Fundamentlly, while the decision-making as to how and where you’re going to place ads has changed but the raw exchange is the same, it’s just it’s getting there. It’s actually possible to explain the process clearly and succinctly.
Other misconceptions include the myth that programmatic is purely about cheap and low-grade inventory, and that it means you have to sacrifice transparency.
If ad-tracking and transparency is possible, why is ad fraud such an issue?
There is a lot of trading done through DSPs that aren’t engineered and built by the people operating them, so the operators can’t decipher when ad fraud is taking place. You need to have computer sciene brains to do that. Most companies operating DSPs don’t have people with MScs in computer science operating their terminals.
Does Addition+ work with DSPs and ad exchanges then?
Yes our inventory gains reach through exchanges, but you can curate and eliminate fraudulent traffic. It’s not hard for a competent computer scientist.