Simon Halstead is the Director, Microsoft Advertising Exchange, EMEA at Microsoft. Here he discusses the Microsoft Ad Exchange roll-out in the Nordics, and RTB adoption in the region.
Can you provide an update on the rollout of Microsoft’s exchange proposition across EMEA outside the major markets such as UK, France, Germany and Netherlands?
Microsoft rolled out its Ad Exchange in 10 European Markets over the course of the last 12 months. We opened our premium inventory supply to real-time bidding in Sweden, Norway and Denmark in October 2011, and are currently also active in other European markets — UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Spain.
We have enabled significant volumes of our discretionary/non-guaranteed inventory (available after premium reserved sales), across premium publishers including MSN and Windows Live.
Progress is strong, ahead of our expectations and we see partners having great buying success leveraging our Exchange inventory for their campaigns. This affirms our belief that not all inventory is equal and that there is a lack of true premium supply in the market, which we have been able to provide through our premium Exchange.
Where is the current level of RTB adoption in the region? Do you have demand partners lined up ahead of any proposed launch?
As expected, we have seen varied levels of adoption across the spread of markets. We have seen a high level of connected buyers and bidders across most markets, with the UK and the Netherlands being the more mature markets in terms of adoption. However, we are seeing that the market gap is closing rather rapidly. Combined efforts from Microsoft, other players and of course Exchangewire to educate and raise awareness about RTB are definitely increasing the speed of adoption.
Our global partners who have leveraged our Exchange in other markets, like the U.S., have been keen to replicate that success in European markets and are connected here too. Besides these global players, the local partners are also playing an important role in the RTB evangelism.
How important will the likes of ad networks be in terms of providing sufficient levels of demand in the exchange?
We have an open approach to demand sources, and see demand coming from a varied range of buyers. Agency trading desks are key partners, and we have always looked to launch with a number of trade desks connected. We also see good demand from specialists such as Infectious, YD, Matiro, and dynamic creative optimising partners such as such as Criteo. Each of these bring their own approach, skills and unique value adds to the Exchange ecosystem.
We also see an increasing emergence of new and local players in EMEA markets and are excited by their potential. The likes of Delta Projects, Klikki and Adform, to name a few, will help fuel this market alongside established trading operations in the Nordic regions.
What role do agencies and their holding groups play right now as far as programmatic buying goes?
Agencies are our primary partners, and we see great adoption and activity across many markets. Microsoft Advertising is very focused on partnering closely with them to help them meet their goals. As more programmatic buying opportunities evolve, these partners will continue to play a crucial role in this space.
As a publisher business, how important is RTB/programmatic buying in the Nordic region?
The Exchange, as one of our sales channels, is very important in any market. We believe in premium value hand-sold and creative work to support top brands and advertisers, and enabling technology to support buying is equally important.
We are just at the beginning of a long curve of benefits of efficiency and reduced friction in the media buying process. The reduction of administrative friction will be good for the whole industry.
Nordic markets are always strong adopters of technology, and real technologists, and so we see RTB becoming an integral part of their buying strategies.
The Microsoft Exchange has developed a position around premium real time liquidity, will this be the same if/when the exchange is launched in the Nordics?
We have actually already gone live in the region. Our goal is to build a global, scaled premium RTB marketplace, and we have launched our Exchange with this proposition across all markets, although depth of inventory sets will vary by market. We are the first global premium publisher of this scale to have put all their non-guaranteed inventory in RTB in all the markets in which we are present. We also strive to match local and regional needs and requirements.
We believe this helps multinational buyers work globally and regionally with us seamlessly, and makes us an easy partner to work with. We are able to deliver them quality inventory whether they want to buy in a reserved manner or via RTB.ExchangeWire