APAC Programmatic Survey Results Show Skills Gap, But Desire To Learn More

Programmatic advertising strategies devised by the top-tier management of digital marketing outfits are failing to trickle down to the teams that actually execute campaigns in APAC, according to a recent ExchangeWire poll conducted in partnership with Google.

The findings identify an skills shortage among advertisers throughout the region, despite there also being an overall desire to increase the number of campaigns conducted programmatically, as well as an appetite for improved training.

The survey – based on the responses of those working in digital media throughout the region – coincides with July’s ATS Singapore event, where the findings will be presented in full by Ryan Ferguson, DoubleClick, head of platform solutions & innovation, SEA, during his keynote address.

With research firm eMarketer estimating that programmatic ad spend across APAC will hit $501m in 2014, it appears that a lack of expertise with the necessary technology, plus frequent inadequacies in ‘organisational processes’, in the region are preventing this growth from accelerating even more quickly.

The number of ad tech companies attempting to crack the diverse, and potentially lucrative, APAC market has been documented by ExchangeWire with several such companies making key announcements in recent weeks.

Skills shortages
But, these firms are likely to be met with challenges stemming from an overall skills gap about the processes, and benefits of conducting ad campaigns using programmatic technologies, according to the survey, which quizzed employees from multiple tiers of the industry.

Nearly 55% reported ‘skills sets of employees’, when asked what what was their ‘biggest barrier to setting up the optimal organisational structure for programmatic?’

This was further reflected in other responses to this question, with 34.55% of respondents claiming the biggest barriers to ideal programmatic trading conditions were ‘organisational processes’, and 35.45% claiming it was their outfit’s ‘technology platform’.

Tech fragmentation
An offshoot of this skills gap is that advertisers begin employing numerous technology platforms to execute programatic campaigns, which is therefore likely to complicate the use of such technology, and further impeded take-up, plus increase costs.

Almost half of all respondents (43.64%) of respondents said their company users ‘five-or-more’ technology platforms to ‘manage and execute media across various channels and point solutions’.

Such a scenario is “way too fragmented” if the industry sector is to advance rapidly, according to DoubleClick’s speaking with ExchangeWire about the results.

The average number of platforms used by those that are engaged with the programmatic sector needs to be simplified, according to market experts who report that as much as 10% of clients’ data can be lost to third-parties when employing the service of numerous platforms.

This also leads to escalated costs for agencies that subsequently have to train staff how to operate multiple packages.

“At the top level [of ad agencies, etc] there is clearly some joined-up thinking about how to use this technology, but something is failing to drop down in terms of the organisation,” added Ferguson.

One well-placed industry source commenting on the results added: “Particularly with planners and buyers, something is going awry… so what you get as a result is that clients just care about click through rates (CTR) and CPMs. If things remain like this, then we need to prove that the conversion rates on programmatic are good.”

Desire to do more
However, the results do indicate there is a desire to learn more about programmatic advertising in APAC, with 83% of respondents reporting that ‘data will become fundamental’ to how they buy and sell media in the near future.

This was also complemented by just below 80% of respondents claiming there will be a role for direct sales team within five years.

Ferguson added: “What needs to happen is that we need to help establish the ROI of using programmatic… To achieve this, we have to put pressure on the industry help with this by doing things such as tagging their sites, which can help prove it.”

However, as previously discussed in previous pieces in ExchangeWire the APAC region poses advertisers with a diverse set of challenges with disparate requirements.

Another source speaking to ExchangeWire said: “The APAC region is a tale of two worlds. For instance, in Singapore roughly 70% of ads are third-party served, but elsewhere it’s typically less that 30%.

“A lot of education is needed across the board if the value of programmatic is to be realised.”

ATS Singapore
DoubleClick’s Ferguson will discuss the full findings of the survey during his keynote address on 7 July at ATS Singapore, hosted in Marina Mandarin Hotel, where he and other assorted speakers will also share best practice, plus further insights into the development of ad tech in the region.