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Getting pragmatic about programmatic

Southeast Asia is a digitally savvy region, quick on the uptake of new technology, highly mobile and with an insatiable appetite for video. According to Nielsen, 60 per cent of those online watch TV content and movies digitally – it’s as high as 76 per cent in Thailand. Cisco forecasts that 935 million people in the region will consume online video by 2018.

This makes the region a haven for advertisers wanting to use the power of video to reach a targeted audience, particularly as viewers seem to prefer advertising supported content over pay-per-view models. Nielsen’s study, ‘Online Video Is Reshaping Southeast Asia’s Media Landscape’ reports that 80 per cent of Asia Pacific consumers have been motivated to search for an item they saw on an online video ad. What’s more, 62 per cent have made a purchase as a direct result of online video.

It’s no surprise, then, that AOL’s own research has shown that buyers and publishers in the region expect the video advertising market to grow more than 40 per cent this year. This extra budget will come, in part, from broadcast TV, but most respondents see the transfer coming from a myriad of other sources, including conventional media, online search and display.

Of course, video works best when it is part of an integrated multimedia campaign: video is great for impact, but a full mix of media, including conventional TV, is needed to build frequency. Consumers in Asia Pacific will follow the world trend for multitasking, evidenced by a Deloitte study in 2012 showing that, amongst those with internet in Australia, only 40 per cent focused exclusively on the TV they were watching – the rest went online, checked email or engaged with other media.

Building cohesive campaigns that play to the strength of each medium isn’t easy. The availability of richer data sets to support media decisions adds another level of complexity to campaign planning. Even if you managed to build these campaigns with conventional planning tools, you would still miss out on the behavioural consequences. How are consumers reacting to your campaign? How can it be tweaked to improve the outcome?

Pulling all this together to achieve effective, targeted campaigns is now dependent on technology. Programmatic marketing allows planners and publishers to achieve the most effective outcomes, but it’s an alien landscape to many. Lack of expertise has been the number one reason as to why more of the industry in Asia Pacific hasn’t yet adopted the technology.

Still, in Europe and North America, programmatic is racing ahead. With such a large population and a high penetration of digital devices in Southeast Asia, it’s dangerous to assume we won’t see the same kind of explosion in this part of the world.

Soon we will see two kinds of marketers – those who try to piece together campaigns using a variety of tools, attempting to surmise the outcomes across the whole – and those who seamlessly plan, buy and measure their spend across all screens and understand what is driving ROI – all from one platform.

Developing expertise in programmatic tools will payback with increased ROI just a short way down the track. Just as importantly for agencies, they may well find that without it, they won’t be able to satisfy the demands of their clients, who increasingly use data to drive their decision making. Relying on the ‘suck-it-and-see’ approach of old is a perilous game for a technology-driven industry delivering to an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base.

Alex Khan

Alex Khan is the Managing Director APAC at Smaato.
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