Local tech, data and media is key for digital growth in Asia Pacific, says IPONWEB’s Ryan Pestano

Local tech, data and media will drive growth of digital in Asia

For the digital and programmatic ecosystem to have a “virtuous cycle of growth” in Asia Pacific, more local tech, data and media needs to be fostered, says IPONWEB general manager for Asia Pacific, Ryan Pestano.

Pestano spoke to The Drum ahead of The Drum Digital Trading Awards in Singapore next month, of which IPONWEB/Bidswitch are a partner. The theme of the debut year of the awards in Asia Pacific is clarity and transparency and Pestano says that by being neutral it hopes to offer clarity and transparency inherently to the market, with the main aim being to solve complexity and create efficiencies.

Additionally, on the theme of the awards, IAB Singapore’s Miranda Dimopoulos said that clarity and transparency mean everything, while Integral Ad Science’s APAC MD, Stephen Dolan, said conversations around clarity and transparency were, at times, emotional for clients.

Digital spend varies across markets in Asia Pacific but what level is the investment in the market(s) you look after and how has that changed?

Digital and more specifically, programmatic spend, have increased steadily across the various markets in APAC. More advanced markets, such as Australia and Japan, are fairly steady and continue to grow. What is interesting is how quickly countries in Southeast Asia have adopted programmatic digital media. Though digital is a still a small slice of advertising budgets, the growth in mobile and video is driving strong growth and investment in digital.

How has that changed Bidswitch/IPONWEB’s investment into the region?

BidSwitch and IPONWEB have had a significant presence in Japan for several years through our partnership with the DAC. We are now seeing the tides change across APAC and are making more investment across the region. We recently opened our office in Singapore last year and will continue to invest in the APAC market.

How mature is the understanding and adoption of automated trading and data-driven advertising?

This has improved steadily over the past several years, though we still see countries in APAC behind most of the more advanced markets such as the US and UK. Originally, APAC has trailed more advanced markets because advertising technologies and data providers were slow to move into the region. We are now starting to see this change as more APAC-based companies, from start-ups to large enterprises, are making investments in ad tech and making more data available in the region.

What can the industry do to help increase these investments?

Education is the most obvious answer. However, we think that fostering and supporting more APAC-based digital and technology companies would provide a virtuous cycle of growth. As more local technology, local data, and local media is available for buyers, the better the overall digital ecosystem will be in APAC.

Where do you think the main gaps in knowledge are? And how can these be addressed?

For better or worse, we have a very vendor-driven education system. I think this can cause gaps and biases in knowledge. As an industry, we need to be more supportive and recognize vendor-independent organizations, like the IAB, which are better suited to educate the industry in a more holistic way.

The theme for the awards programme this year is clarity and transparency - what do these words mean to BidSwitch?

As a completely neutral intermediary that never takes a position on media, BidSwitch is bringing greater clarity and transparency to the programmatic ecosystem—at the infrastructure level. BidSwitch is focused on solving the underlying technical complexities and inefficiencies that have arisen out of a continuously, and rapidly evolving programmatic world. To us, providing “clarity and transparency” means enabling a more efficient and seamless programmatic global trading ecosystem for all.

What positive moves are you seeing in Asia Pacific around clarity and transparency? What is Bidswitch doing?

We are seeing more tech providers with anti-fraud, viewabaility, and verification solutions increase their presence in APAC. At the same time, we are seeing more companies in APAC invest in those technologies to improve the transparency of their media buying and selling activities. BidSwitch is working closely with these emerging technologies to provide additional services within our infrastructure. We are also launching new features and solutions that enable our 350+ partners to access, maintain, optimize and customize their relationships more seamlessly within the programmatic trading world. We will have very exciting announcements in the coming year related to fraud filtering, bidstream shaping, unified deals and PMP related trading/reporting and more.

In a year's time, when looking back at this theme, how do you hope the industry will have evolved or progressed?

Fraud continues to be a very big problem in APAC, and it needs to be rooted out. Over the next year, we hope the ecosystem continues to shine a light on this issue, and things like brand safety and fraud filtering become table stakes for buying and selling digital media.

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Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte