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Robbie Hills Discusses The Recent Adx Launch In China, The RTB Market In China And Trends Across The APAC Region

Robbie Hills is Head of Media Technology Solutions SEA/India and Head of Rich Media APAC at Google. Here he discusses the recent launch of Adx in China, and the growth of programmatic buying in other APAC markets.

Can you give some overview of the launch of AdX in China?

We officially launched our AdX in China on April 10. We’d already been testing the system with several key publishers and buyers for some time; we see the shift in programmatic buying happening at an increasing speed across the APAC region and China is growing at even faster pace and a key part of our strategy. We already have a number of large buyers actively buying on AdX in China.

How developed is the RTB market in China? Are there big volumes being sold via RTB?

In short – yes! As with many other markets, there are large volumes of display inventory in China that are not and have never been effectively monetised: given the multitude of display ad formats and thousands of websites, it often takes thousands of hours for advertisers to plan and manage their display ad campaigns, and many don’t bother. On the other side of the equation, some publishers are left with up to 80% of their ad space unsold. It’s like airlines flying with their planes mostly empty.

Everyone in the space is looking to ensure that they enable as much inventory as possible in a RTB format. We are seeing continual growth in this area every month.

Can you give some overview on AdX penetration in other markets – particularly Japan and India?

Japan is the powerhouse of RTB in APAC at this stage. More than any other market the agencies, DSP’s, trading desks and of course advertisers have taken to buying programatically more than any other market.
India is still early days but in the last six months we have started to see a shift in the way exchanges and DSP’s have been utilised in India.

Importantly in markets across China, Japan and India we are seeing strong local DSP’s and retargeting companies emerge which is helping drive the exchange based market.

What about DSP use in the region? Are the region’s agencies/ advertisers/ trading desks now putting spend through buying platforms?

The traditional trading desk (from the international holding companies) are only just looking to establish themselves in Asia. Most of them are in hiring and training mode as we speak. In Japan and Australia we are starting to see increasing activity through DSP’s

We do see some DSP’s in use across markets/regions (Brandscreen, MediaMath and Invite) and we certainly see some very strong local players in Japan (MicroAd) and China (IpinYou)

What are you seeing in China? Are there a lot of domestic DSPs buying from AdX. Are the Chinese building their own bidders to access dynamic inventory in the market?

Yes – There are a great number of domestic DSP’s in China. Some are certainly more developed than others. Many have designed their own proprietary bidders, which are often based on open source. There are also many claiming to be a DSP or have access to RTB inventory who clearly do not! I would advise that you do your due diligence in China when looking at DSP’s and ensure they can in fact buy on a RTB basis and look to see what exchanges they are linked to.

APAC is made of a number of individual markets with different currencies, languages and regulatory issues? Does this continue to be a barrier to growth? Is AdX making it easier to buy across the market?

This is one area that often gets overlooked or actually is not realised by many in other markets. When it comes to designing, engineering and rolling out a solution that can work across countries, APAC can be a challenging region. Whether it is technology issues such as building in double-byte, forex issues, government regulation or language, companies need to realise this and build it into their product offerings if they want to be successful in the region.

AdX has inventory in all of the major markets in APAC – including China, Japan, Australia/NZ, as well as India, HK, Taiwan and South East Asia. All of this can be accessed either locally or centrally.

Having people on the ground in local markets is ideal as it allows for all of the things we mentioned above to be effective. As well it helps with ad creation/approval, cultural nuances in buying decisions and understanding local issues.

Some APAC markets are very insular in terms of how they do business. How crucial is it to be local in market – particularly in China and Japan?

I am not sure insular is the right word. I would say more misunderstood by others. To think all markets should act the same because that is how it is done in the west I think is the height of arrogance.

In order to be successful as a business in China, Japan and Korea you need to have very strong understanding of the environment and the markets they operate in. Having local managers and teams who know the market is crucial for success.