The company, which came under the Xaxis umbrella at the start of 2016, has named Nicolas Bidon global CEO. He was previously managing director in the UK for Xaxis, Light Reaction and Plista.
Brian Gleason, global CEO of Xaxis, said Bidon “played a key role” in the development of Xaxis in the UK market and brings with him, a “wealth of product and technical expertise.”
“We look forward to his leadership in growing the Plista business as we continue to bring Turbine data to new environments and advertising categories,” he added.
The company said its new platform is the first to bring the personalisation benefits of audience data to a broad portfolio of native formats, creating a single-source programmatic solution for native ads.
Through Plista, advertisers will be able to buy native ads programmatically across in-feed, outstream video, recommendation widgets and in-ad native formats, using audience data from Turbine, Xaxis’ data management platform (DMP).
Advertisers can now sync their native campaigns with existing display, mobile, online video, digital radio, connected-TV and social-media campaigns, allowing for more effective cross-channel attribution of native ads, according to the company.
Michel De Rijk
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Xaxis APAC CEO Michel De Rijk said that the agency has “very high expectations” for its new offering thanks to the clear opportunity for native advertising in the region.
“We have engaged with several advertisers in the local markets and they are sharing the interest in our products,” he added.
De Rijk reported that in Thailand, China and Malaysia, the agency has enough publishers on board to launch the business and expects that to grow. From Plista’s launch in Australia a year ago with six publishers, that number has grown to more than 100 thanks to proof-of-concept demonstrations for both advertisers and publishers.
“In other Asian markets we are now engaging with publishers to build a solid network before actual launch in the market,” he added.
De Rijk said that brands are definitely starting to take notice of native advertising and how it can complement their digital campaigns.
“It is still in the early stages but with a promising outlook,” he noted, adding that unlike the more mature markets such as Australia, the rest of Asia is still a few steps behind.
However, with content playing an important role and ad blocking being a concern for more advertisers, brands will be embracing the fact that they need to be open minded to the different kinds of digital solutions to realise campaign performance and to make advertising welcome.
“Having that mindset is the more important thing for them, in order to embrace in full,” said De Rijk.
In terms of closest competitors in the space, De Rijk said native advertising remains fairly new in most markets.
“In some markets we see companies like Taboola and Outbrain as competitors, but I think in the general, the existing offering is still very limited, and this does not do right for brands and publishers,” he added.
Asked about the readiness level of brands and agencies to provide native creative content that will populate inventory, De Rijk replied in the affirmative, stating “absolutely, the content is out there.”
“It is just not tied up enough,” he added. “We have good relationships with several content agencies, and our duty is to make the right connections and bring the right content to the right audience.”
Plista's new Thailand office increases its global presence to 11 markets in Europe and Asia. Monchaya Rattanachanchai, its head of new business, will lead the local operations.
De Rijk reported that programmatic in Thailand is still in its infancy, with high growth from low levels.
It is estimated that about 20 percent of GroupM spend in 2016 will be programmatic, while the same number for Thailand is probably around 5 percent.
“We foresee growth in numbers as programmatic proves its effectiveness in Thailand and around the region,” he added.
The company is aggressively exploring expansion into additional markets in the region, based on positive traction it has enjoyed in markets such as Australia, China and Malaysia, De Rijk said.
“We are definitely looking to launch Plista in other Asian markets in the next six months," he said. "Our goal is to have Plista live in all APAC markets like how we have rolled out Xaxis. The wider Asian market is getting ready to ride the native advertising wave, and that falls perfectly in line with our view that it is a complementary solution to making advertising welcome.”
De Rijk added that the agency is already in the process of building out the Plista team, with a regional leader to be announced soon.
“Our main focus is finding the right leaders in the local markets,” he added. “From experience we know that building great local teams is key to the success of all the businesses we have.”
Plista plans to launch in the US later this year.