Japanese ad network joins programmatic race in Asia

MicroAd aims to reach 200 new publishers.
MicroAd aims to reach 200 new publishers.

MicroAd is extending its operations across the region, where programmatic buying is reaching an inflection point

SINGAPORE — MicroAd, a leading ad network in Japan that operates demand-side platforms and supply-side inventory, is now expanding into other Asian markets including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and South Korea.

Douke Yasutaka, MicroAd’s supply-side platform (SSP) director for APAC, said the company would start operations in the countries with the highest demand.

"We’re eyeing markets where there are a large number of advertisers, namely Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia and South Korea," Yasutaka said. The firm has established subsidiaries in the countries mentioned and launched a demand-side platform (DSP), MicroAd Blade. Yasutaka and his team are now in the process of hiring talent in the local markets for MicroAd Compass, its SSP.

MicroAd has two main data centers, in Japan and Singapore, and it plans to set up more Singapore servers as it expands in the region. Right now the company works with more than 7,000 advertisers in Japan and about 1,300 in other APAC markets.

To strengthen its presence, the ad tech company has also partnered with Ambient Digital, an ad network company in Southeast Asia. Yasutaka is exploring tie ups with other DSPs and networks to offer more advertisements and competitive prices to publishers.

Supply-side pitch

To woo publishers away from other ad platforms, the company has a "lowest expected price" promotion that claims its SSP only provides ads at higher-than-average market prices. MicroAd plans to reach 20 to 30 major publishers in each country and hopes to work with 200 across the region within a year. In Japan, the firm has more than 5,000 publisher partners.

The company says its MicroAd Compass also supports a "programmatic guaranteed" function that lets publishers directly liaise with advertisers to specify a guaranteed price and amount of impressions.

According to Yasutaka, APAC is still in an early-adoption phase and publishers are not familiar with or even aware of programmatic platforms, and hence, educating the market poses a significant challenge. "This is especially true when compared to Japan, where programmatic is relatively more mature," he said. "Still, we see this as a vital opportunity and are aiming to be the market leader in the region."

Competitive landscape

Display advertising’s new programmatic era is only just starting to reach an inflection point in Asia.

In August, PubMatic, another programmatic ad-selling platform, announced ambitious plans to expand in the region. The company’s CEO, Rajeev Goel, said he expects to grow the small team of 15 to about 25 by the end of the year and double that in 2015. He’s also keen to expand the ad platform, which currently operates in Singapore, Japan, Australia and India, to Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea and China.

At the same time, Adskom, an Indonesia-based programmatic advertising startup, raised $850,000 in seed-round funding from Digital Garage, East Ventures, Beenos Plaza and Skystar Capital to fund expansion in Southeast Asia.

Recent research from Warc, conducted in association with the Festival of Media Asia Pacific (FOMAP), and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) found that 61 percent of brands and agencies believe programmatic buying will become more important to marketing strategies by 2019. Despite this, the survey, designed to gauge the attitudes of client-side advertisers and marketing-services agencies, showed that more than half of all brands and agencies in the region admitted to having little or no real knowledge of programmatic buying.

This article first appeared on campaignasia.com.

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