Ad maturity refers to the state of readiness of advertising technology (adtech) and associated infrastructure. It is a critical factor in programmatic advertising, which uses algorithms and data to automate ad buying and delivery. Achieving ad maturity involves consolidating media, optimizing supply-side solutions, and building an ecosystem that facilitates seamless communication between stakeholders. In a roundtable organized by Xandr in partnership with Campaign Asia-Pacific, industry experts discussed the challenges of digital advertising, particularly in a cookieless world. Among the panellists were Sanket Sasane, director of paid media at Accor, Sunil Naryani, chief product officer at dentsu, Nishanth Raju, managing director at Lotame, and Tom Dover, director of video marketplaces at Xandr. The discussion highlighted key takeaways on how marketers and agencies are working towards solutions for audience fragmentation and accessibility.
The pandemic has accelerated the process of digitalization for both consumers and brand owners. However, the rapid increase in digitally-driven communication has brought complexity, even for categories with high degrees of adtech maturity, such as travel. As the industry booms buoyed by the ‘revenge travel’ phenomenon, a challenge for marketers like Accor is finding solutions that capture and create more demand. A highly fragmented audience has made this an even tougher task.
To tackle this challenge, Accor partners with dentsu and Xandr, which power a global marketplace for premium advertising, with a full ecosystem at play on the buy and sell sides. According to Sasane, “We have a framework based on different stages of the consumer journey, which helps dentsu’s approach to media planning. There are also supply-side solutions in place to improve the quality of our inventory and drive campaign performance.” Dentsu’s approach involves starting with an audit of the client’s current setup, including media mix, supply partners, and tech stack with emphasis on their first-party data. The aim is to assess the scale, quality, and structure of the data along with supply sources to mobilize a plan for improving their adtech maturity.
Dentsu has been pushing for adtech maturity for a couple of years now. According to Naryani, the agency has a robust set of best practices in place with demand-side platforms (DSPs) and for supply curation. However, he adds that “The understanding of the supply side, which accounts for the inventory deal types, quality of media, and the publisher ecosystem, is still not common knowledge. As practitioners, we need to educate our teams and the industry further so as to leverage the full potential of supply curation for marketing.”
The panel agreed that direct interaction with the publisher usually worked the best. Naryani said, “In the adtech supply chain, many intermediaries exist who may not necessarily add value but contribute to the tech tax and are inefficient over time.” However, where direct approaches are not feasible, dentsu works with partners like Xandr and Lotame who possess relevant, rich, scaled local data sources. An example of this is curated data marketplaces.
Explaining this phenomenon, Lotame’s Raju said, “It starts with curating a list of publishers scoped to specific verticals, markets, or regions – for example, finance, parenting, or automobiles in Asia. We then enable the creation of custom audience segments broken down by verticals and overlaid with demographics and intent along with branded datasets distributed via the marketplace such as spend data from Mastercard or consumer data from Nielsen. Agencies and brands can then activate these audience segments on curated inventory to reach the right users in the right places to help drive value at both the top and bottom of the funnel.”
The curation process at dentsu encompasses both inventory supply and audience sets. Naryani said, “It is critical to ensure that the audience data is clean, compliant, and enriched to derive maximum value. We also focus on building a closed loop feedback mechanism to optimize the campaign’s performance continuously.”
As the industry grapples with the impact of a cookieless world, the panel agreed that building a first-party data strategy was crucial for marketers. They discussed the importance of creating a value exchange with consumers, where they willingly share their data in exchange for personalized experiences. This approach would help brands build a loyal customer base while improving their adtech maturity.
Achieving ad maturity is critical for programmatic advertising success. It requires consolidating media, optimizing supply-side solutions, and building an ecosystem that facilitates seamless communication between stakeholders. While the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption, it has also brought complexity, particularly with the fragmentation of the audience. However, by partnering with companies like Xandr and Lotame, and through a data-driven approach like that of dentsu, marketers can work towards solutions that capture and create demand while improving their adtech maturity.