Amplifi Malaysia bolsters programmatic and media partnerships team with key hires

Amplifi Malaysia, Dentsu Aegis Network’s media investment arm, has brought on board Suhail Ahmed as head of programmatic and Jake Goh as head of trading and partnerships (pictured below).

Both report to Hasnain Babrawala (pictured), managing director, Amplifi Malaysia. In a conversation with A+M, a Dentsu spokesperson said the appointments aim to further strengthen Amplifi’s core business pillars, as part of the agency’s growth since its launch in Malaysia last year. Amplifi is currently present in nine markets across Asia Pacific and 41 countries worldwide.

Suhail (pictured left) has over a decade of experience in the advertising and digital industry, and has worked in multiple markets including Malaysia, India and the US. He was most recently the director of platform sales at CtrlShift, where he was responsible for driving the adoption of advanced media trading platform and growing its programmatic business. Prior to CtrlShift, he spent over six years at ad tech firm Adadyn, during which he spearheaded the firm’s entry into the US market.

In a conversation with A+M, he said his goal is to build a “robust” trading practice for clients and develop strategies to drive campaign performance more effectively. This is because the consumer journey has become complex, often switching between mobile, desktop, TV and a host of other digital channels. “As such, brands need to have a holistic strategy to effectively engage with audiences in moments that matter and programmatic is seen as a powerful enabler to data-driven marketing,” Suhail added.

Meanwhile in his new role, Goh (pictured right) will oversee trading capabilities, facilitate strategic partnership with media partners, develop investment analytical strategies for the Group’s media investments, as well as support the delivery of best-in-class execution for all agencies within the network. Goh was previously a senior digital strategist at Vizeum Malaysia. “We’re looking at collaborating with some of the world’s biggest technology companies to deliver real, useable capabilities, tools and solutions that will enable our network brands to further optimise business outcome, and in turn helping our clients achieve real business value,” he said.

In an in depth conversation with A+M, Babrawala said that Amplifi’s global media partnerships unit focuses on creating exclusive products and services with media partners, realising that “attention planning” is the need in today’s divergent world. Smart data usage, e-commerce consulting, out-of-home (OOH) advertising, multimedia research and creative planning are some areas the agency is working on to power up its new and existing services.

He added that the agency’s key achievement to date is the successful roll out of “robust processes”, which gives Amplifi an accurate forward visibility of investments for the network. This allows the agency to strategically negotiate media investments as one single entity, as well as build and mobilise its “Brilliant Basics” framework for the next generation of trading in today’s industry.

Read the rest of Babrawala’s interview below:

A+M: What are some of the challenges you have faced so far in growing Amplifi in Malaysia since last October?

The media industry at present has a reduced focus on the science of media planning, and more on ideation and innovation. Therefore, one of the crucial, challenging tasks in the early days was to ingrain the “Brilliant Basics” framework within the agency, as well as promoting it among media partners. Besides service delivery excellence and best practices in operations, the framework covers the basic hygiene of media planning. In other words, we’re emphasising the need to get the art and science back into media planning.

Another key challenge was to establish a robust operations and media investment management unit in the first nine months, which forms the core of Amplifi’s business.

A+M: Have clients picked up on the importance of programmatic in Malaysia? Where else is there room for improvement?

Currently, programmatic advertising expenditure in Malaysia is increasing. However, there is a certain amount of trust deficit due to the complex technical nature of ad buying in this space, which we are already addressing with continued education and awareness.

We have seen a significant increase in programmatic spending in 2018 at Dentsu Aegis, and clients are being more positive and accepting of the ROI that they are getting with Dentsu Aegis’ programmatic offering. That said, in terms of opportunities, there is still a huge room for investments in the space of online audio such as music streaming channels, digital OOH, over-the-top platforms and advanced television.

A+M: Which skill sets are necessary to succeed in today’s programmatic industry?

Agencies which believe that data activation for media campaigns is not the same for any two advertisers will succeed. Hence, agencies and independent consultants that are offering programmatic services will inevitably need to realise that activating third party data is not the only solution for better campaign performance.

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