In an interview with Marketing, Eddy Chan, marketing technology leader at Kimberly-Clark, reflects on the mind-boggling complexity of advertising technology, how it ads value to the media buying process, and what consolidation in the media technology space currently looks like.
[Chan will be speaking at Marketing magazine’s Performance Marketing conference, taking place next Tuesday in Singapore.]
Marketing: Why is the media technology ecosystem so complex?
Chan: There are three main reasons for this.
1. The reach of digital channels has grown exponentially. As a result, an explosion of places that ads could turn up, from websites, apps and mobile through to out-of-home, formats from display to video;
2. The level of interactivity keeps getting more sophisticated. We originally started with static banners, then rich-media; now we have audio markers, augmented reality and geo-targeting to name a few with the list growing by the day;
3. An explosion of technologies that have become increasingly specialized e.g. within DSPs, we have those that are good at display/mobile and others that specialise in video.
Technology has given more choices to publishers and advertisers but with that comes complexity in that there are now many different ways to achieve the same results. No different to how the consumer journey has taken on a life of its own, the path to delivering an ad reflects that.
Complexity in media tech really depends on what you’re trying to achieve. At Kimberly-Clark, we want to get transparency on costs and inventory to a certain degree. To date, that’s meant digging to a level of detail with our media buying but in the grand scheme of things, we’ve probably only scratched the surface of the whole ecosystem. Do we really need to understand how everything works? Probably not yet.
Marketing: Who in the ad tech space do you think has the power to create a comprehensive platform that can be used at scale?
Chan: If this could be done, and that’s a big ‘if’, you can’t look past Google and Facebook: they have the reach, the data and the resources to pull this off. The reality is that the space is currently too fragmented that I don’t see anyone doing this in the near future.
I think what’s more likely to happen is consolidation within areas of Media Tech, vertically and horizontally. And we see some of that happening already, video DSPs moving into display and vice versa or players moving up or down stream. The big shift will be when TV moves into programmatic, that’s when things will get interesting.
Marketing: Is a comprehensive platform a desirable goal?
Chan: Very simply, it could be desirable but in reality, unlikely to happen. The landscape is just too fragmented and changing too quickly. I will say however, that trying to predict how quickly things can change in the digital age is fraught with danger – never say never.
Marketing: Has media buying become more efficient? Is it fair to say that the difficulties in understanding the various technology platforms overrides any cost savings from more efficient media buying?
Chan: I certainly think it can become more transparent, and with transparency you are able to optimize and make it more efficient. You are now able to get access to data that was previously not available, imperfect as it is today e.g. are you hitting your target audience or is a real person actually viewing your ad? The technologies are enablers and it’s really up to each organization to determine how they choose to use the ones at their disposal. You can do as little or as much as you’d like and the more you own and understand, the more you can do with it.
From our experience in Kimberly-Clark, I think it’s been worth the investment; however, we are in the very early stages of adopting programmatic in APAC. On the surface, we’ve seen efficiencies in some areas. As we continue to push adoption across our markets, I’m sure we’ll uncover more. I will say that, it’s important that a good working relationship is established with your partners –agencies and DSPs – to start with.
Marketing: How much control do advertisers actually have over the deployment of their ads?
Chan: With the DSP partners that we use, we can have fairly fine-grained control over the sites that we turn up on. The difference is the quality of the inventory that is available to us. Inventory today, or what we have access to anyway, is really what’s available on the open market. For now, when necessary, we balance that with buys through our media agency for premium inventory.
Performance marketing will be discussed at Marketing magazine’s inaugural Performance Marketing conference on 8 September in Singapore.
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