Advertisers and publishers: Can we share the love in 2018?

The IAB released a report on digital ad spend in APAC last year. The report clearly proved that we sit in what is the fastest growing digital advertising ecosystem globally, with growth predicted in the region of 25%+ over the next three years.

To put this in perspective, 2017 was a year that saw some of the most tumultuous times in digital advertising in recent memory, from global concerns around brand safety and ad fraud, to measurement and the noticeable shift to more transparent ways of trading digital media. Despite these challenges, Asia has continued to grow as, evidenced by even Google claiming APAC to be their fastest growing ad market globally.

This growth does come with an unusual caveat, which is the inequality of its distribution and the unfortunate reality for most publishers, that the annual increment is largely being invested on the two large global platforms. Reams have already been written on the ‘duopoly’ and their impact is being felt across the world and across publishers of every size. Mashable, Buzzfeed, Vice are just a few that have had to significantly re-look at their businesses and are now trying to pivot to more profitable models. The messenger now controls the Message, so where do publishers go in 2018?

Five trends which may enable a more competitive digital ecosystem are:

One common currency

There is a fundamental gap between the way demand and supply currently operate within digital media. While demand, represented by advertisers, agencies and trading platforms has moved from inventory to audience, the supply side continues to view inventory as the only transactional currency. This may sound like an oversimplification, but it’s the first step in moving to an ecosystem where buyers and sellers are speaking the same language.

Reducing the degrees of separation

As digital media becomes increasingly programmatically traded, the degree of separation between the publisher and the end advertiser has grown exponentially. The inherent complexity of bringing together data, inventory, content and measurement is a reality we need to live with, however having clearer rules of engagement to vet out the players who are simply skimming off the top is much needed, Ads.txt is one such initiative, and as its adoption grows, the impact of a cleaner digital trading ecosystem will be felt in 2018

Walled gardens need alternatives that have no Walls

The frustration about the duopoly felt by publishers has reached a crescendo. Publishers particularly in digitally nascent markets like Indonesia and Philippines can see that they are at the cusp of a massive shift in digital advertising, yet fear, justifiably so, that they will not see their fair share of revenues. The David and Goliath analogy needs to be transformed for this, and initiatives such as the OPPA in Thailand and Mediacorp and SPH partnering in Singapore are steps in the right direction. An open, consolidated publisher play with unifying technology is the slingshot that may help challenge the duopoly.

Video and more video

Adland’s love affair with digital video only seems to be getting stronger and the demand for quality, transparent and measureable video ad inventory seems to far outstrip the supply. It’s an interesting time for every stakeholder, as publishers are hoping they will see better yields on their video investments, advertisers are seeking scaled video opportunities that are brand safe and creators have never had it better, with videos of every form being tested by brands – from short formats, to live videos. Given all of these, it becomes doubly important that we start segregating the ‘creators’ from the ‘distributors’ and relook at value that we create for the creators

Technology that enables

Publishers have started to realize that technology required to monetize comes at a price, often a price that’s unfairly in favor of the technology provider. It’s heartening to see publishers across Southeast Asia starting to ramp up their efforts in building out in – house technology, that allows them to control their monetization on their own terms. This trend is likely to continue.

Despite the turmoil that 2017 has witnessed and the increasing doubts being raised on the true value of Digital, there has never been a better time to be in Digital advertising and more so in Asia.

Siddarth Correya is managing director of SelectMedia (APAC).

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