IAB Singapore Rising Stars: Amnet's Yuani Chen on pushing past the programmatic buzzword

Yuani Chen talks programmatic as a career as one of IAB Singapore's Rising Star

As part of the year’s mission to Humanise Programmatic, the IAB Singapore Programmatic Committee hunted down the industry’s brightest talents behind the technology. Find out how these passionate practitioners got started, the secrets behind their success and what they are doing to drive the industry forward.

“Regardless of your function, understand where your data comes from and what it means because that is the most fundamental commodity in programmatic.”

Data-driven, efficient and optimal – the three traits that made Yuani Chen, analytics lead at Amnet Asia, and Programmatic a match made in heaven.

“My first interaction with data was in the hospitality industry as a revenue analyst,” she shared. By learning about sales, marketing, pricing and inventory management, she gained a strong understanding of how businesses segmented their audiences in the offline world and used data to forecast and plan their business goals.

Actively working to embrace change and innovation, Chen quickly found her footing in the ever-changing programmatic landscape. Within her first year in Amnet, Chen initiated the launch of the Business Intelligence Tool for Marina Bay Sands in 2014. The dashboard simplifies the data story, enables precise targeting based on market trends and allows for timely and customized messaging when buying digital media.

“Yuani stands out in the field of programmatic for her strong passion and innovation in making data easily comprehensible,” said Katherine Lu, Vice President of Digital Marketing and Ecommerce, Marina Bay Sands. “There is a lot more that we can do with data for more relevance and therefore precision when planning our campaigns. Yuani will certainly be able to help any of her clients drive the use of data forward and make programmatic the new standard.”

A pioneer at Amnet APAC, Chen has played a prominent role in the region. According to Joshua Lee, Head of Operations and Analytics at Amnet, Chen was noteworthy as a programmatic expert for her deep knowledge in activating data for effective marketing.

“Yuani consistently communicates and looks for opportunities to collaborate with the rest of Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) such as our colleagues in the Global Data Innovation Centre and Technology team. Working with her colleagues outside of Amnet, she looks to ensure that all things programmatic are well integrated with the bigger picture of where our network is driving the data agenda,” said Lee.

Chen shares her deep knowledge in activating data for effective marketing, helping clients understand their audiences in the online world through the Amnet Audience Centre, the company’s proprietary data management platform. She was also responsible for the rollout of Tableau, a data visualisation software within Amnet that automates various reports, including a most recent initiative to help the client management team track revenue spends.

Now, Chen is one of the few selected this year for Route 500, Dentsu Aegis Network’s internal career acceleration platform to develop the next generation of leaders for the organization. En route to success, she is definitely a face we should be looking out for from now on.

What did you think the word programmatic meant before you started your job?

Programmatic to me was just a buzzword. I did not quite understand what I was getting myself into except that my role involved digital media and analysing data. That sounded fascinating enough to pique my interest.

What do you love the most about programmatic?

I love that programmatic is still growing and evolving. That means that the colleagues and partners I work with embrace change and innovation as much as I do. Programmatic is also all about being efficient and optimal, two traits that I identify strongly with in things that I do.

How do you predict programmatic will change the future/evolve?

Programmatic will become a lot more sophisticated with a big part owing to AI, leading to greater automation. We are already seeing changes happening with audio, TV and OOH. The real future of programmatic however will lie with how well different players can commoditise data to make marketing truly smarter and more efficient, providing a healthy ad tech marketplace for data and other media vendors while still delivering cost savings or improved performance to the advertisers.

Share an anecdote or any funny story from your work experience?

Some colleagues and I were once discussing about the use of programmatic to target or attract a potential date! Next level of online dating perhaps?

Any advice for new entrants to get into the industry?

Be curious. Regardless of your function in Programmatic, understand where your data comes from and what it means because that is the most fundamental commodity in programmatic. If you are unable to tell the data story, you cannot sell, trade and optimize, much less analyse any outcomes. I did not know what a pixel was when I first entered the industry but everyone starts somewhere.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I’ve always enjoyed working with numbers and solving problems but the type of jobs I knew about media back then were not associated with data. I had a particular interest in the Travel industry and so my pre-agency days were spent in hotels learning about sales, marketing, pricing and inventory management. In my last stint at W Hotel, I worked much more closely with the digital marketing team and that was my foray into advertising.

Charlie Baillie is VP commercial partnerships APAC, RhythmOne and the Co Chair of the Programmatic Committee at IAB Singapore.

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