How Astro made a case for data management platform

In order to become consumer-centric, Astro has internally implemented a data management platform (DMP) which entailed a realignment of its overall data strategy. This was by no means an easy feat.

Speaking at the recently held Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium at Marina Bay Sands, Jayaram Gopinath Nagaraj (pictured), head of digital media, Astro Radio, shared with audience how Astro went about setting up the DMP and how it has helped drive its business.

The DMP, Nagaraj told A+M, launched internally in January this year and is expected to be commercially rolled out within the next quarter.

The case for a DMP

At Astro, the case for a DMP was first driven by its marketing team which wanted to deliver better advertising ROI for its clients. Initially, it focused all its efforts on the traditional campaign-led model of advertising.

Nagaraj explained, in the past marketers would make a request for agencies to execute a campaign based on a target audience. Agencies would then deploy it by tracking pixels into apps to drive the campaign at a given cost. The Astro team, at one point, had over 50 apps borne out of a similar strategy: “We also have other kinds of campaign that require a user to download the app in order to drive traffic to the site and sales or acquisitions and ad sales.” At times the objective also included driving conversion of anonymous user to a non-anonymous user.

The marketing team and the digital ad sales team eventually realised that the data they had from launching previous campaigns and apps could help the digital ad sales team sell a specific segment-based data to their clients. Here is what Astro aimed for: “To give a big client not just a million blind impressions, but a segment that fully matches the buying profile.”

This new-found objective, said Nagaraj, ensured that Astro’s advertisers were spending every ringgit towards directing their messages to targeted audience.

The presence of a DMP also paved the way for Astro to look into programmatic ad sales and a data-backed inventory resonated much more with supply-side platforms which reached out to Astro for inventory.

Convincing the C-suite

Still, support from the top of the organisational chain was the most crucial and hardest to attain.

The first challenge of expanding its DMP’s capabilities required convincing the C-suite to get on board with the plan in the form of an investment. For instance, the legal and financial teams were initially hesitant with such an investment, Nagaraj recalled.

Eventually, the C-suite understood where DMP would fit into Astro’s overall data strategy. “We have intelligent people getting data for television and they go through our ratings; but being able to reconcile that – who’s coming online and who’s viewing the different content – requires a more sophisticated data strategy,” Nagaraj added.

“We spend so much time and work with a lot of our clients where we design their creative campaigns but being able to put it to good use required us to spend on a DMP.”

In addition, considering the legal and financial aspects of it was absolutely crucial as well given the concerns around privacy. For this, Astro enlisted IT experts to make sense of how a DMP could be seamlessly integrated into the company’s overall business objective.

“We thread the line between privacy and how the ad sales team in the marketing component works, and how they fit in all of this. While once a DMP was only meant for people who use it, now it involves everyone in every team,” Nagaraj said.

The organisation had to learn how to navigate the intricacies of privacy concerns that establishing a DMP might entail. "We wanted to make sure it was clear from the get-go that it wasn’t affecting anyone’s privacy and we wanted to make sure  it fell within not just from the standards that have been set by law in Malaysia – such as the Personal Data Protection Act - but also within our own standard. This was managed mostly by our legal and tech teams."

The launch of the DMP

Given the multi-faceted nature of Astro’s organisation, Nagaraj explained first and foremost the IT teams needed to understand how a DMP would work in their favour. Next, the company enlisted a project manager tasked with getting everybody in line with the company’s data strategy.

The data evangelist component was essential for the company since having a DMP is not just about improving marketing, or ad sales: “What you’re going to do is to look at how it will change your company’s culture to become more data-driven, and that by far, was the most difficult thing to pull off and we are still working on it,” Nagaraj said.