December 16, 2016

IAB & MDA Training Series in Malaysia – Part 1: Programmatic


With Malaysia one of the leaders in Southeast Asia when it comes to programmatic spend, grasping the full extent of what the technology can do for advertisers, has taken on heightened importance.

Robin Bach Kolling, MDA Knowledge Council Co-chair & Head of GroupM Connect highlighted that the industry is seeing double digit growth in programmatic spends in the Malaysian media landscape.

Of course, it helps to know what programmatic entails and Gregory Pichot of AppNexus helpfully supplied the following definition:

“The simplification of the buying and selling process bringing operational and pricing efficiency by digitally connecting the buyer and seller, enabling the programmatic purchase of ad placements via trading platforms.”

Pichot was addressing more than 100 attendees at the Eastin Hotel in Malaysia, during the IAB & MDA Programmatic & Mobile Training Series.

The daylong event took an ecosystem-wide dive into the issues facing the industry today when it comes to programmatic matters regionally and in Malaysia. It also marked the second year of partnership between IAB and the Malaysian Digital Association (MDA).

The brand-side perspective


James Sampson, VP & GM, APAC, DataXu & Co-Chair IAB SG Programmatic Committee outline the three main approaches available for brands when it comes to adoption of programmatic.

Programmatic product: Buying defined products through multiple buying models.

  • Right for: Clients new to digital, or have limited or no unique data. Clients in test mode that have invested into programmatic as a small portion of their digital media plan (less than 10%).

Programmatic service: Outsourced operations, potential for flexible business models and set-up.

  • Right for: Clients with close and trusting agency relationships, or who have invested into programmatic as a minority of their digital media plan (less than 50%).

In-house programmatic: Build an internal team, license or build technology.

  • Right for: Large clients who have scalable first party data, or are spending over 70% of digital investment programmatically. Brands that are prepared to invest heavily to build the necessary support structures to continue development.

Sampson advised brands to think about what is the best fit for their business and not look at their competitors.

Kenneth Wong, MDA Council Member noted that Malaysia is ahead of the curve compared to other markets in the Asean region, with sizeable investment being mde into talent and platforms.

“We’re now talking about data with clients, and how best to leverage those assets,” he added.

Sulin Lau, Head of Marketing Services, Maxis said that in the last 18 months, one significant change has been in the quality of conversations in the industry about programmatic.

“Agencies have the tools, but they think that the tools are the answers,” she said. “They’re necessary but only a tenth of the answer when you want to talk about seriously buying programmatic.”

The fact remains that buying media is half the issue, if hyper-segmented ad space is being bought then brands have got to fill it hyper-segmented creatives to match.

“If you don’t then you’re just increasing costs for a narrower audience,” she added.

The challenge now, most agencies don’t know how to help their clients change their work processes in tandem with the shift to programmatic.

“The briefing documents and audience segmentation methods all hae to change,”said Lau.

Lau also had some food for thought for attendees and the industry to ponder: If the non-tech tools didn’t exist, and the brand works with their agency figure and develop these work process tools, then who owns that intellectual property?

Publisher-side perspective


When he handled programmatic at MediaCorp, Jason Barnes used to get death stares from the sales team whenever he walked past.

The problem was, with digital revenue increasing thanks to programmatic buys, he was seen as the “enemy”, taking away potential sales.

“Things changed when we changed the way sales were commissioned internally and educated the team on how it all works and where it fits with what they do,” he said.

“They even started inviting me to sales parties!” he quipped.

In outlining what the options for publishers are with programmatic, the Vice President APAC at PubMatic said that a clear strategy and understanding of capabilities are crucial factors to success.

Some questions to ask include:

  • What are my goals? Yield or revenue? New buyers? Efficiency?
  • How does it fit in with my sales strategy? What is the pricing and packaging? Any channel conflicts?
  • How does this fit in with my current tech stack?
  • Do I need a DMP?
  • Do I need to change the org structure?
  • What sales capabilities are required?

Sharing some insights from a publisher’s point of view, Niagara Jayaram Gopinath, Head of New Media, Radio at Astro said that industry conversations have “changed nicely”, to the point where the media owner can have a discussion about audience targeting via data with clients and agencies.

But there remains a point of contention over access to the first party data of media owners – an oft-demanded request from brands and their agencies for tracking or verification purposes.

“First party data? We’ve got it, we’ve spent a crapload of money to get it, because it informs the business across the board and is a valuable resource,” Gopinath said. “But then brand and agencies demand access to it, when negotiating advertising deals, so naturally we’re going to be sticky about it.”

“How would you feel if I came to your house and took everything in it? It’s a similar situation, and we’ve had to manage conversations with advertisers and come to a conclusion of how best to work together and move forward.”

Paul Moss, GM, Platform & Technology, Media Prima Digital said the challenge for publishers now is how do they participate and work in the digital ecosystem.

“We’re more than a dumb supplier in the programmatic ecosystem, the challenge is how can we be high value participants in industry conversations,” he said. “We’re not able to track the metrics and see the sort of success metrics that programmatic buyers are looking at, which would enable us to optimise and become a high value participant.”

By way of demonstrating the position publishers now occupy in the ecosystem, Gopinath posed a question to the media buyers in the audience: Do you reward publishers with data?

When it comes to the issue of viewability, currently a hot topic, Moss noted that as a hygiene factor, it is good to have viewability standards but current definitions may not be sufficient.

“Whether a video ad online is viewed for one second versus ten seconds, the return is the same,” he added. “That doesn’t work for us.”

To read the key takeaway from the Mobile section of the training session, click here.

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