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Unboxed: Why is adtech so complicated?

Unboxed: Why is adtech so complicated?

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The adtech space is an ever-evolving one, subjected to intense competition and scrutiny. With advancements occurring at a blistering speed, it is often a struggle for those of us not the heart of it all to actually understand the seemingly minor looking, but often critical advancements. In this episode of "Unboxed", we speak to PubMatic's chief revenue officer of APAC, Jason Barnes on how marketers can keep up with the thick and fast changes without feeling overwhelmed.

According to Barnes, the first step is really to choose your partners carefully. He believes it is the duty of the adtech providers to keep the marketer informed of all the trends that are in the market. “Marketers have their agencies, and agencies have a key part to play in this. We interact a lot with all the agencies, of course and they obviously are very informed and up to date on everything that's happening with the adtech space,” he said.

But marketers also need to do research themselves as the success of the industry really remains dependent on the marketer’s ability to demystify and understand new technological investments. “Marketers need to be listening to podcasts like this one and obviously reading Marketing Interactive to make sure they stay informed. We have a lot of blogs, whitepapers, we have thought leadership pieces on, and so it's important that a marketer takes on that responsibility themselves to ensure they keep themselves up to date, and read the right publications. But then as I said at the start, importantly that their tech and agency partners keep them informed on what is happening out there and give them good solid advice,” he added.

Listen to the podcast episode here.

Marketing: With so many different solution providers in the market, it really gets confusing for marketers to know who to work with and who to trust. So what advice do you have for marketers when it comes to deciding who to partner with?

Barnes: I absolutely agree with you. I think if people don't understand something, they don't tend to buy it. So that's a really a major job of mine and my teams, and I think everyone in the industry should provide as much education and as much transparency to try and overcome this. Hence, education is one of the key things that marketers need to do to try and understand the different solutions. They need to know who the different players are through the programmatic supply chain, and exactly what value each one of them adds at their point in the supply chain. And then a marketer should really look at how those features that they have or their positioning matches up with the corporate goals and priorities.

So I think that education piece is really key for a marketer. In one of our whitepapers that we had on OTT header bidding, [we highlight] a whole series of questions that people can be asking their partners and examples of a couple of them are around product differentiation and asking about fee models - this is a big one. Where do you charge your fee? Do you charge it to the publisher, the buyer, or both? Is it transparent? [Some of the questions are] around product roadmaps as well, asking for high-level product roadmaps, where you are going in the next two to three quarters and can I as a marketer or buyer influence that roadmap of yours?

And finally around financial stability, I think understanding what is the financial standard of this organisation that [the marketer is] potentially going to partner with, gives a lot of peace of mind. I think that education piece is definitely something marketers should look to do so they understand the industry, then they would know how who's the best person for them to partner with.

Marketing: Why is there so much jargon in the adtech world?

Barnes: I feel I should apologise on behalf of the entire industry for that. We joke and we say "TLA" - that's a three letter acronym. There are so many three letter acronyms from SSP and DSP to DMP. The industry that we work in is technology and technology can be complex, and I think the idea was that the acronyms would actually make things a little simpler to understand. Unfortunately, I think it's actually gone the other way around. People hear a person talking or the series of acronyms coming out of their mouth and they just get totally lost and switch off.

It is a little tricky, although there are a handful of primary acronyms that are out there and once you learn those, you've got the gist of it and you can understand it. But again, ask your trusted partners what these acronyms are and what they mean. Simplification is something I tell my team that we need to do all the time because we deal with people that are not technology people and as I said, you have got to keep it simple, ensure they understand it. If you don't use acronyms, maybe that's the right thing to do. So just be conscious of that.

Marketing: What do you feel are some of the big issues in the adtech industry that needs to be addressed immediately?

Barnes: Unfortunately there are a couple of issues. I would love to say that there are none. Mobile is obviously where it's all going to be happening in the next few years. But there are also a couple of issues around mobile, especially when it comes to the marketer and a lot of that is around measurement and perceptions around mobile inventory as well. Marketers want to understand how their ads are performing and there are many metrics that are used, such as clicks, installs [and others]. On desktop this has been very easy, there's been a whole series of standards and it's measured by third parties. But with in-app, the app developer has to install a software development kits (SDK) and this SDK can make the apps go a little slower sometimes.

A lot of effort might be needed to install them so a lot of developers don't always like installing those SDKs, and therefore there's not [enough of] the measurement and the transparency in in-app space that we'd like. While it is changing, and it is happening, it is not quite where it needs to be and I think once that happens, once we get higher penetration, it will be a lot better.

And then the other area and it's not a quick fix by any means that, is a trust gap between buyers and in-app suppliers. Unfortunately, I still speak to a number of agencies or read reports from my team saying that the agency is not really that keen on buying in-app inventory. They don't trust it and they think there's fraudulent inventory there. So, I think transparency is one of the key things that we can do in the in-app programmatic supply chain to try and light it up to make marketers aware that there are a lot of very clean, very good inventory in the in-app space.

Join us on a three-week journey at Digital Marketing Asia 2020 as we delve into the realm of digital transformation, data and analytics, and mobile and eCommerce from 10 to 26 November. Sign up here!

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