Matt Hunt is Managing Director, Australia at Adconion Media Group. Here he discusses the evolving Australian digital ad market, the Adconion solution in the region, the commercial challenges posed by new players like DSPs and SSPs, and the unique data-driven media buying solution offered by Adconion.
You’ve worked in the UK for a number of years. How far apart are the two markets – in terms of adoption of digital advertising and proliferation of ad tech solutions?
The first difference is in the level of competition in the ad tech space in the UK. Apart from a heavily financed European tech start up environment out of London and Berlin, all major ad tech companies expanding out of the US do so by launching in the UK. So apart from the existing “traditional” competitors there is also a constant flow of new companies vying for market share. In Australia there is less room (revenue) to fuel the same level of innovation so there are fewer companies, fewer innovative business models and fewer niche specialists.
A second area of difference is in the automated trading and exchange ecosystem and Australia is significantly behind the UK in these areas. The DSP vs Network debate has shaken out and while unsophisticated ad brokers have been marginalised by DSPs, evolved ad networks that deliver real value are thriving based on a simple premise … they have capabilities beyond trading desks and deliver great results. Adconion is one of these thriving networks.
My role as Adconion UK MD was a career highlight but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to return to Sydney and lead the Australian business in my home market. Australia is currently experiencing the sort of transformation that we have already seen in the US and the UK and it offers huge market opportunities for smart ad tech companies – so I wanted to be part of it in Australia.
Adconion Australia has developed a market leadership position and I am excited to have the opportunity to steer the company into a new growth phase through recent Adconion acquisitions and the addition of new technology capabilities. Most recent of these is our acquisition of smartclip and our Australian launch has had a significant impact on our business.
Describe the evolution of your business to date, the challenges you are facing and what are the key areas of the market you are focusing on?
Adconion Media Group was an innovator when it launched its direct response ad network in Australia in 2007. Since then our technology platform has enabled the business to evolve into two operating businesses; one focusing on direct response advertising and a second focused on brand advertising.
Adconion Direct is a digital platform for direct response marketing. It has extended our traditional audience display business into display, email and social channels for advertisers focused on return on investment. In display we are extremely bullish about our expertise in the programmatic trading of biddable inventory and by the value we can offer advertisers and publishers who are embracing exchange trading environments. While access to inventory has never been easier, very few companies have multi channel data, the expertise and methodologies we employ and nor do they have the type of technology that is a prerequisite to delivering a world class direct response platform. We think that places us in a very sweet spot indeed.
Smartclip which we launched in March is already one of Australia’s leading multiscreen video and brand advertising platform. The key benefits to Australian advertisers is that we can provide the distribution of video, rich media and display advertising across the PC and now into mobile, tablet and other connected devices including smart TVs. So the opportunity for smartclip is to be at the forefront of ad tech innovation for advertisers that have developed their multi-screen marketing strategies. I am certain marketers are not in any doubt that reaching customers on multiple screens will be essential in tomorrow’s digital world.
In terms of challenges – our key challenge has not actually changed since we launched in 2007. Adconion is a difficult business to pigeon hole in a complicated market that likes convenient labels such as “ad network”. While we have never wavered from our mission of creating a tech platform that connects multiple advertisers with multiple audiences, our evolution into a sophisticated data driven multi-screen advertising distribution business is much harder to label for the market.
We’ll live with that though as our strategy lends itself particularly well to innovating new ways of delivering brand and direct response marketing solutions in a digital world.
How is Adconion positioning its business model with the entrance of DSPs, ad exchanges and other new forces into the Australian ad ecosystem? Will we see a big shift of budget into these new players?
On the buy side, we support the trading desks that use DSPs with limited access to inventory within our network and we also want to provide a differentiated, stand alone media solution that will be an alternative to an agency’s trading desks. Co-existence is inevitable. Trading desks will deliver great results and highly evolved networks like ours will also deliver great results – we just both work with a different recipe and we cook in a different kitchen. You can compare it to the notion that you can either choose to make your own pasta at home or go out to a great Italian restaurant. It’s broadly the same food but comes from two very different approaches – yet there is a good case for
On the sell side, the use of exchanges offers up huge complexity and therefore opportunity for companies like Adconion. We access display, video, social and email inventory from publishers, SSPs and exchanges, layer on proprietary data from our Data Management Platform and match that with the best advertising in order to maximise the results for the advertiser and the yield to the publisher.
This is a completely different philosophy to a SSP (or a DSP for that matter) and it represents the best business model in the new exchange ecosystem that balances supply and demand. Indeed there are many misconceptions that there is an overlap between DSPs and networks but the reality is that both models will prevail – just as they have in the UK and the US.
We feel this position for Adconion is really straight forward and in line with both the US and UK markets. Agencies will use their trading desks but they will also use evolved networks that have proven to the market that they can deliver market leading direct response and brand solutions.
On this basis we are determined to avoid complacency so we continue to invest heavily and keep innovating in this space.
What are likely to be the big opportunities in the Australian and SE Asian market for Adconion over the next 12 months?
If I had to make three predictions around the market sectors that will be the biggest opportunities for Adconion, I’d first pick social, as we’ve run thousands of Facebook market place campaigns worldwide to date and it is such a natural extension of our expertise. The second area would be video and the third area relates to our multi-screen approach and our recent addition of mobile advertising opportunities. We launched our first mobile campaign in May and we’re staggered at how this is scaling for us around the world.
The biggest opportunity for Adconion though is to maintain our position as a leading digital direct response and brand advertising platform in Australia. We are already an obvious partner of choice for agencies when it comes to direct response display and we are now focusing our efforts on achieving this level of success in other areas of our business.ExchangeWire