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Technology Featured APAC

Opportunity within a crisis: Push towards programmatic in JAPAC

Marilyn Monroe once said that “within crisis are the seeds of opportunity.” These words of wisdom are particularly relevant today as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt and change business across industries. The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour, and advertising has needed to stay nimble and adjust to these behavioural changes, but these changes also present smart advertisers with great opportunities.

A surge in digital transformation is shifting more ad dollars to the digital realm, and as marketers look to get extra bang for their increasingly valued buck, they are turning to channels like programmatic. Results from the recent OpenX & ExchangeWire report on ‘The State of Programmatic in JAPAC – 2021’ show that 30% of surveyed media professionals reported a higher programmatic spend (or higher programmatic revenue for publishers) when compared to pre-pandemic figures.

In fact, nearly 60% of the firms surveyed for the OpenX report are either generating at least 40% of their revenue from programmatic or spending 40% of their media investment on it, highlighting that programmatic has reached a new maturity level in JAPAC, where overall programmatic knowledge, understanding, and appreciation have significantly advanced across all markets.

While this all paints a positive picture for programmatic, the market still has a lot of room to grow, and there are still lingering challenges such as fraud and replacing the third-party cookie that must be addressed to help convince more agencies and brands to shift more dollars into the space.

Avoiding fraud and embracing SPO in programmatic

It’s only natural that programmatic’s rapid growth has spurred fraud and quality control concerns among brands. According to Integral Ad Science, Singapore and Japan reported the world’s highest fraud rates on desktop display and mobile web environments respectively in H1 2021. In our report, almost 90% of publishers express at least some concern about fraud.

This is an issue that will require a multi-faceted solution, but one approach that the buy-side can take is supply path optimisation (SPO), which is a process that lets advertisers reduce their supply-side ad tech partners and create a preferred list of trusted companies that meet their various needs and can deliver the best results.

Undertaking the SPO process is an ideal way for a marketer to figure out which partners are driving the most value, and at the same time, it will decrease the chances of marketers working with lower quality partners that may have fraudulent practices. A staggering 84% of brands say they have run an SPO review in the past 18 months, or plan to do so within the next six months.

Beyond utilising SPO, brands can also fight fraud by working with partners that are compliant with industry-wide standards created by industry watchdogs like the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG).

First-party data and third-party cookie concerns

When looking at macro trends in the industry, the eventual removal of third-party cookies is another concern, particularly in India, Indonesia, and Australia. More than 65% of brands say they are uneasy about eventual cookie depreciation and the effect of Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), with publishers reporting even more trepidation than buyers.

Going into 2022, the solution that the industry seems most excited about is first-party data. 80% of the surveyed JAPAC agency and brand professionals confirmed having access to first-party data, and more than 30% of publishers are spending more to obtain first-party data. Having access to first-party data is only part of the battle though, and marketers and publishers need help activating it. 

This is an area where ad-tech can step in, and marketers are increasingly relying on supply-side platforms (SSP), ad exchanges, and DSPs to help them make the most of their first-party data, and use it to run effective audience targeting.

A smarter way to advertise

Programmatic advertising is not just a way of the future, but it is the reality of our present as digital ad spend continues to expand. APAC digital spend is forecasted to expand 12.8% this year, reaching USD124.5 billion, 54% of total spending.

Marketers today have a tough challenge – how to navigate the ever-changing digital media landscape, in the middle of a pandemic, while also planning for the future. Programmatic advertising is proving to be the channel that lets them do both, as they can drive successful campaigns today, while also experimenting with new formats, new ways to use data and other advances in programmatic that seem to be happening almost daily.

This article is written by Andrew Tu, managing director of OpenX for APAC.

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Technology Featured APAC

Emplifi names Varun Sharma as vice president for JAPAC

Singapore – Customer experience platform Emplifi has appointed Varun Sharma, former head of sales and director of CX applications for SEA at Oracle, to assume the position of vice president for APAC and Japan.

Sharma has over 18 years of experience in CX, digital, and hi-tech industries. Aside from his previous role at Oracle, he has also worked with Adobe, where he led Strategic Industries for their Digital Experience business in the SEA region.

In his new role, Sharma will be leading Emplifi’s Japan and APAC business, with teams across Singapore, Emplifi’s JAPAC headquarters, and Sydney. He will also be the key in driving growth and developing customer and partner relationships across the region as CX becomes a top priority for brands.

Commenting on his new role, Sharma said he is thrilled to be joining the JAPAC team at this exciting time in Emplifi’s journey, as the pandemic really accelerated digitalization in the region, across Asia and ANZ, driving marketers to greatly increase their spend on social media advertising and on CX solutions overall. 

“Emplifi’s offering is well-positioned to help businesses across JAPAC to deliver more connected brand experiences across channels, meeting customer needs at every touchpoint of the buyer journey,” said Sharma.

Nikola Pantovic, Emplifi’s chief revenue officer, said, “We’re very excited to welcome Varun to the Emplifi family. His experience building and leading sales teams, combined with his understanding of the CX landscape and knowledge of the Asian market will be key, as we continue to strengthen our focus on the JAPAC region.”

The appointment comes after the recently announced merger of CX company Astute Solutions and digital marketing company Socialbakers. Both businesses rebranded as Emplifi, which will cater to a middle ground of services centered on CX strategies for digital marketing purposes.

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Technology Featured APAC

Current programmatic activity 30% higher in JAPAC compared to pre-COVID period

Singapore – Programmatic investment and spend is growing at a rapid rate across the Japan and Asia-Pacific (JAPAC) region despite a hugely challenging 12 months in terms of both the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the deprecation of third-party identifiers, which is now 30% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels, a new research from adtech OpenX and market intelligence news site ExchangeWire shows.

According to their latest report, around 64% of agencies, publishers, and brands are increasing programmatic spend or revenue, an evident growth in the sector driven by a surge in digital transformation across agencies, publishers, and brands.

The report highlights as well that 31% of publishers are generating over 40% of their revenue via programmatic. On the buy side, 21% are allocating over 40% of their spend on the channel. 

With that in mind, there has been an observation as well that publishers have matured in their strategic selection of header bidding partners, while the use of unified auction solution Prebid has increased by over 10% market-wide. Compared to 2020, publishers are using relatively fewer providers than in 2020, and prioritizing ease of setup for when existing providers are not meeting expectations.

Such behavior is prevalent in the Indian market, where 32% are now using one to four partners, compared to just 7% last year, and 13% are using 15 or more partners, which has more than halved from the 29% recorded in 2020.

“The programmatic industry in JAPAC is displaying a remarkably strong recovery. We see newly-forged programmatic expertise across both buy and sell sides driven by rapid digital transformation. Agencies, publishers and brands are demonstrating greater confidence in managing their own programmatic activities. As a result, the ecosystem is directing more revenues and spend through the medium compared to other marketing streams,” said Andrew Tu, managing director for APAC at OpenX.

There have been rising concerns within the region over the deprecation of Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) and the third-party cookie. Two-thirds (67%) are concerned about the effect of IDFA and cookie deprecation, with 29% very concerned about these changes. India displayed the most concern, with 87% disclosing some level of concern, followed by Indonesia (71%) and Australia (62%). In Japan, only 49% are concerned, while 50% are not perturbed about the upcoming changes.

Furthermore, brands and agencies are not funnelling money to ‘walled gardens’, and instead favor independent ad tech.

A ‘walled garden’ refers to a limited set of technology or media information provided to users with the intention of creating a monopoly or secure information system.

Only 16% of buyers are increasing walled garden ad spend in response to IDFA and third-party cookie deprecation, whereas 27% are investing in exchange, supply-side platform (SSP), and demand-side platform (DSP) partnerships.

In India, only 2.5% are funneling spend away from independent ad tech towards the walled gardens.

“Despite some fears around the impact of IDFA deprecation and the eventual removal of cookies in Chrome, a majority of brands are maintaining or increasing spend on the independent web and not towards the walled gardens. Instead, they are working together with their tech partners to navigate the nascent privacy-first environment,” Tu added.

In terms of investment, India is more heavily invested in programmatic than its peers. Only 2% are not using the channel, compared to 33% in Japan, 9% in Australia and 6% in Indonesia. Moreover, 12% of respondents within India are generating over 75% of their spend in programmatic, double that of both Australia and Indonesia.

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Platforms Featured Global

Twitter names Yu Sasamoto as new VP for JAPAC region, promotes Maya Hari to global role

Singapore – Twitter has recently announced the promotion of Yu Sasamoto, former country general manager for Japan and South Korea, to now assume as vice president for the unified region of Twitter Japan, South Korea, and Asia Pacific (JAPAC).

Yu’s appointment comes after the elevation of Maya Hari, former vice president and managing director of Twitter APAC, who now takes the helm as vice president of global strategy and operations.

Prior to joining Twitter, Sasamoto has held senior executive roles for various companies, including cable channel MTV Japan, technology company Microsoft Greater Asia Pacific, and restaurant search engine and review site ASKU. In his new role, Sasamoto will be responsible for Twitter’s advertising business across the JAPAC region, including Australia, Greater China, Japan, India, and New Zealand, as well as the whole Southeast Asia, and South Korea. 

Sasamoto will move to Twitter’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore for the expanded regional role, and will continue to serve as the general manager of Twitter Japan, as well as the head of Twitter Client Solutions in Japan until the platform finds his successor.

Meanwhile, Hari brings with her over 15 years of experience in the digital media, mobile, and e-commerce industries across the US and APAC. She has previously worked for brands such as Samsung, Google, and Microsoft, as well as Cisco. In her new role, Hari will be responsible for leading a global team focused on customers and revenue product strategy, operations, innovation, and automation to enable commercial and content partnerships efforts around the world. 

Hari will continue to be based in Singapore and her global appointment aligns with the company’s overall belief that having more leaders and employees living and working in places that are representative of all perspectives and cultures will help Twitter be a better service and company.

Commenting on his promotion, Sasamoto said that he is thrilled and honored to be tasked with leading the powerhouse that is the new unified JAPAC region for Twitter, and working closely with world-class talents across the region. 

“Not only does Asia boast a rich, diverse culture and society, it also breathes innovation and vibrancy – and being at Twitter means we get to be on the pulse of everything that’s happening. I’m looking forward to bringing more people, communities, brands, and partners to Twitter as we build on the incredible business momentum from Maya’s leadership across the region,” said Sasamoto.

Meanwhile, Hari shared that they are delighted that Sasamoto will be stepping into the expanded role, as it is a testament to everything he has achieved at Twitter to date, leading Japan to become among the largest revenue markets globally. 

“In my new role, I am excited to work with him and our other international leaders to grow our businesses around the world and find new opportunities for Twitter to serve the global public conversation,” said Hari.