Key Pitfalls APAC Marketers Should Avoid as Programmatic Grows

So, programmatic has garnered growing interest from marketers in this region, but how should they begin their journey and are they approaching it the right way? In this week’s industry piece, Vincent Niou, Essence’s Asia-Pacific senior programmatic and partnerships director, highlights the potholes media buyers here need to avoid and explains why it is important to also know from whom they are buying.

Programmatic in Southeast Asia is primed for major growth. According to projections from Magna Global, programmatic ad spend in Southeast Asia has been projected to reach USD$452m (£371.52m) in 2019, growing at a rate of 326% from USD$106m (£128.96m) in 2015.

Based on a May 2016 Forrester study, 60% of respondents in Singapore, nearly 50% in Malaysia, and 40% in Indonesia, said they either had adopted programmatic ad buying or planned to do so within a year.

As marketers in Southeast Asia dial up their programmatic investment, there are a number of pitfalls buyers must navigate in a region where the practice is still in its nascent stages. Here are a few to watch out for:

1. Rushing to add programmatic for the sake of doing so

One of the biggest pitfalls buyers often fall into is to rush to adopt programmatic without first building the necessary foundation. This should include the following fundamentals:

– Validated data
– Insightful audience segmentation tailored to objectives
– Organised approach towards media optimisation
– Sound measurement and analytics rooted in causal data science
– Full transparency of data and inventory used

Failure to account for any one of the above can result in buyers missing out on the full benefit of programmatic advertising.

2. Thinking of programmatic as automation only

Vincent Niou, APAC Senior Programmatic & Partnerships Director, Essence Digital

While automation and operational efficiencies are indeed key selling points, the true benefit of programmatic advertising is the ability to leverage data to deliver more relevant ads to consumers in real time.

This is not an invitation to blindly bomb consumers with incessant remarketing; it’s an opportunity to make advertising more valuable. However, this can only be done by leveraging tools to deliver the correct messaging at ‘micro-moments’, when and where users are most receptive.

3. Not tailoring programmatic tools to campaign objectives

When incorporating programmatic into campaigns, it’s essential that buyers align campaign deployment to objectives and KPIs (key performance indicators). This is no different for a non-programmatic campaign, but the buyer has control over far more levers in a programmatic setting.

Let’s take branding versus performance campaigns as an example. The two have distinctly different media objectives. These differing objectives require different applications of reach and frequency, data usage, and optimisation approach. Even the platform itself may differ depending on how success is attributed.

4. Not aligning programmatic approach with publisher positioning and proposition

As a buyer, it’s important to do two things when engaging publishers in programmatic conversations. First, advertisers need to understand how sellers or publishers position their programmatic inventory. As the programmatic landscape matures, waterfall practices and remnant inventories will fade. In the early stages, when parity has yet to be achieved, varying publishers will position their offering differently. Some will view programmatic as a brand proposition and have programmatic compete with direct-sold inventory. Others will see it as a way to better move remnant, unsold inventory. It is, hence, important for buyers to understand these nuances on a publisher-by-publisher basis in order to extract maximum value from negotiations.

Conversely, it’s essential for buyers to clearly communicate and educate sellers on their own programmatic approach. This is especially crucial in the early stages, as buyers are learning how to deploy programmatic to better meet campaign objectives; and sellers are learning how to leverage programmatic to better monetise their inventory. In this aspect, buyers and sellers with a strong partnership can, and should, work together to create win-win scenarios with mutual benefits.

As programmatic media in Southeast Asia matures, additional challenges will come into view as the players grow savvier and technology advances. That said, marketers who avoid the pitfalls will be well on their way to extracting maximum value from their programmatic buys.

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