Meet Integral Ad Science’s Managing Director of Southeast Asia, Niall Hogan, who just relocated from the U.K. to Singapore, as he discusses his thoughts on brand safety, viewability, and the media quality landscape in Southeast Asia.
Why should advertisers in SEA be focused on media quality?
Dealing with media quality means dealing with wastage. If you consider the combined impact of brand safety ad misplacement, poor viewability, and digital ad fraud, advertisers could be throwing away around 60% of their digital advertising budget before they even launch a campaign. Therefore, if you have $100,000 to invest this September and October to drive sales, you may as well just throw away $60,000 unless you have a plan to deal with it. The good news is that it can be dealt with and those dollars can be rescued and used to help drive awareness or sales.
Has SEA’s approach to media quality been more challenging or easier to understand with your experience in Europe?
Today SEA is in a similar place to the U.K. when I started four years ago. There are pockets of knowledge around media quality, but low adoption across the board when compared to mature markets. Advertisers and agencies in SEA are just starting to get to grips with media quality data. This can be challenging for everyone involved, including the supply side, who often feel the pressures of these new KPIs - such as adding viewability performance to a campaign. However, we have seen rapid changes in other markets, if the whole industry pushes for improving media quality.
There are some region-specific challenges. For example, the amount of ads placed on illegal downloading websites. Our brand safety tool works by assessing a webpage and scoring the content’s level of risk for seven categories: adult, illegal drugs, alcohol, violence, hate speech, offensive language, and illegal downloads. When we look at this data in the U.S. or Europe, we see that the biggest brand safety issues are in the adult and violent content categories. Yet in SEA, the biggest category is illegal downloads, followed by adult content and violent content.
What's some advice you can give marketers who are evaluating their media buys to get the most value?
If we look at markets like the U.S. or U.K., which have been dealing with these issues for many years now, we can see that with a market-wide focus on media quality, improvements can be made.
When I first started with IAS four years ago, viewability in the U.K. was at 39%. In our latest global H2 2016 Media Quality report, it had risen to 50% - that’s an over 20% increase in four years. It took a huge amount of effort from a great number of players to achieve this success - the IAB, advertisers, agencies, sellers, and tech providers all played a part.
The collective will of advertisers and the industry working together made a difference. That has not happened yet in SEA. Advertisers are not demanding loudly enough that media quality is important, and until they take a stance, brand safety, viewability, and ad fraud will continue being a challenge for this market.
Brand safety was front page news in March 2017, what do you think will be the hot topic as we head into 2018?
In January, it was viewability, but since YouTube’s brand safety challenges came to light, everyone has been talking about brand safety. Who knows, in six months it may be ad fraud. Trends are continuously evolving and advertisers and agencies are constantly scrambling to deal with the front page news of the day. Our industry needs to stop being so reactionary. The best way for advertisers to make sound decisions is for them to educate themselves on brand safety, viewability, and ad fraud so that they can put a proper plan in place to protect themselves. Then, the next time there is a breaking story, advertisers can be confident that they have done everything they can to safeguard their brand and business.
Niall Hogan, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Integral Ad Science