Staff Reporters
May 25, 2016

Walled gardens: Love or hate? Why?

MEDIA TALK: As data is becoming the window to identify insights on consumers, will the walled gardens increase visibility or hamper it?

L-R: Amy Kean, Cedric Dias
L-R: Amy Kean, Cedric Dias


  • Amy Kean: APAC strategy director, Mindshare
  • Cedric Dias: Head of digital marketing, GCFS, OCBC Bank

Walled gardens: Love or hate, and why? 

  • Kean: Love. They can be frustrating when you work towards a single customer view and seamless digital experience. But they offer great targeting, premium inventory and meaningful insights.
  • Dias: Love-hate! The benefits arise from better targeting accuracy and better user experience. But there is a lack of choice and neutrality in the way advertising is managed and reported.

Are walled gardens such as Facebook or Google truly an industry problem? 

  • Kean: It’s silly to describe this as a step backwards in digital trading. We’re spoiled — we’re so used to having reams of data at our fingertips and access to any ad space. 
  • Dias: Walled gardens hamper advertisers who want the most transparent, efficient technologies. It could be problematic as some advertisers get more sophisticated and see a conflict of interest in one organisation using its own tech to buy their inventory.

Are you enjoying the full benefits of playing in walled gardens? If not, why?

  • Kean: We’ve just made it work with our current planning process. The best bit about walled gardens is the insights—the contribution that Facebook and Twitter have made in helping us understand consumers is huge. 
  • Dias: Our current needs are met through Facebook and Google. But as we go for more sophisticated marketing, other ad techs become attractive. That’s when we foresee challenges.

Should we give up cookie data and embrace walled gardens in exchange for sharper targeting?

  • Kean: No. There’s a role for both. Everything in moderation, and a web filled with wall gardens would be an unnecessary drain on our resources.
  • Dias: There’s a lack of data portability with walled gardens. 

Open ecosystems: Viable alternative or wishful thinking?

  • Kean: Wishful thinking. Any form of market monopolisation is a worry, but this forces us to not rely on the biggest platforms. 
  • Dias: In the short run, all signs point to walled gardens prospering, given the share of customers they own and the current sophistication of digital marketing. However, increased competition and higher-quality inventory will produce a race to the top. 

Is Asia part of the debate on walled versus open garden? Explain.

  • Kean: APAC markets have huge penetration of messaging apps, making it hard to follow what consumers are sharing amongst themselves — a different kind of walled garden. 
  • Dias: The debate is just starting in Asia.  


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