Unsung Heroes - the programmatic trader: Azriel Chan, Omnicom New Zealand

Azriel Chan works as a senior programmatic strategist at Omnicom New Zealand.

The Drum's 'Unsung Heroes' series is a celebration of the people in the industry who slog hard behind the limelight for their companies, brands and clients.

As they are seldom in the spotlight for their contribution to the success of campaigns, and this is their time to shine.

Easily mistaken as a programmer when describing his job to people, Azriel Chan, who works as a senior programmatic strategist at Omnicom New Zealand, says his job is more than 'programming things', as he helps to deliver guided digital media strategies for brands by using programmatic adtech platforms like Google or Facebook.

Why is your job important?

As a senior programmatic strategist, my role is vital within our agency as I am tasked with delivering programmatic media strategies for clients’ digital marketing efforts.

My job ensures that our agency provides the best-in-market approach towards programmatic media, programmatic technology, programmatic creative and data targeting capabilities across our portfolio of clients.

I also conduct regular knowledge-sharing sessions amongst agency internal stakeholders and clients’ digital/marketing teams to help scale our best-use case scenario(s) and ensure everyone is on par with the latest developments within the programmatic space.

What is the hardest and stressful part of your job?

The hardest part of the job is to constantly stay on top of the ever-evolving programmatic landscape, where we often see new developments and updates pop up every week within programmatic platforms. Since we have to justify to our clients that we’re leveraging the best programmatic capabilities and data targeting capabilities available in the market, this is a real priority for us.

The stressful part of my job is the on-going challenge in addressing the major knowledge gap that is taking place within our industry. Over the years, we have continued to make our stance in demonstrating the true value that programmatic advertising offers to clients and agencies.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing efficiency gains for our clients and constantly identify new ways to reduce wastage. It seems straightforward but is often overlooked, unless we dig deeper into the programmatic media data and unearth insights that influence new customer acquisitions or customer retentions strategies.

Apart from that, putting together successful case studies tends to be rewarding to me as I often witness the best-in-class use of programmatic tactics that deliver strong performance and ROI results for clients. Finally, I find reading and learning new things as a rewarding experience of my job, since it allows me to stay on top of my game whilst fuelling my passion to succeed in the programmatic space.

First thing that comes to people’s minds when you tell them your job?

People tend to associate my job with programming and it requires some form of strategic thinking behind the program or code I write.

How would you correct/explain to them what you do then?

I often explain to them that I work with teams to deliver guided digital media strategies for brands by using programmatic ad-tech platforms like Google or Facebook; to deliver targeted ad messages by harnessing key data signals to deliver the right message to the right user, at the right place and at the right time.

Is there anything you want to change in your job?

Abolish technical jargons and truly simplify any technical terms where possible.

Which was the campaign that you worked on, that you are most proud of?

The campaign that I am most proud of is 'The Digital Traveller' which was produced for a travel client and bagged two silvers in the Beacon Awards (New Zealand’s local media award show). This campaign alone saw us delivering a first-in-market CRM fused-audience targeting strategy that helped orchestrate and guide ad messages to existing frequent flyers.

This targeting method successfully delivered a 62% growth in ticket sales and 2.89% increase in average value per sale, which was an amazing result for our client!

Who is someone you want to emulate in your industry?

Jourdan Tan, head of OMD programmatic in New Zealand. His down-to-earth personality, knowledge and talent is well-known and respected throughout the industry in New Zealand. This trait has proven to be a testament to OMD programmatic’s success during his tenure at the agency.

Under Jourdan’s leadership, OMD programmatic had seen tremendous growth over the last five years, which has expanded the team from two to 15 programmatic specialists today and yielded double-digit growth in billings and profits YoY.

If you weren’t a senior programmatic strategist, what would you be?

I would have been a market research analyst as this has always been second to my interests of interpreting big data and presenting findings to execs and clients to help them make better informed decisions about product introductions, modifications and marketing campaigns through the use of statistical tables and reports.

I also see myself analysing industry trends and competitor data to help organisations unlock predictive modelling and insights.

If you think of someone who deserves to be part of this series, please get in touch with Shawn Lim and nominate them. You can read the most recent feature, which looks at the role of a food delivery company area manager, here.

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