AdzCentral Evolves as RTB Gains Traction in Asia

Advertisers in Asia are starting to invest and learn how to work in a RTB (real-time bidding) environment and AdzCentral is one Singapore start-up that is capitalizing on the emerging demand in the region.

The ad tech firm recently raised S$4 million (US$3.2 million) in series A funding from Electric Sheep Capital and Digital Media Partners.

AdzCentral initially launched as a DSP (demand-side platform) in 2010 offering its tech platform to media agencies and advertisers.

Because many clients in Asia are less inclined to use the self-service model, it has since expanded its offering to provide the full campaign services from media planning and buying to campaign set-up, management, and reporting.

The Asia-based start-up also provides consulting services for digital ad tech implementation and positions itself with the likes of WPP’s Acceleration, Infectious Media, and Rocketfuel in the West.

“We’ve been getting requests to help clients figure what performance they need,” says Reza Behnam, founder and CEO at AdzCentral.

In recent years, agency networks such as Omnicom Media Group, WPP, and IPG have set up their regional trading desks Accuen, Xaxis, and Cadreon in Singapore.

However, AdzCentral is “not just a trading desk,” as it advises clients how to build integrated media planning systems, audience profiles, and third-party data to trade across multiple DSPs, Behnam says.

The display ad tech landscape in Asia is less sophisticated compared to the U.S., which has the scale and demand for specialized firms in data collection and dynamic retargeting, according to various industry insiders.

For instance, Asia is still nascent on data collection and currently lacks data companies such as those like Bluekai or eXelate in the U.S. that allows advertisers in the region the ability to buy Asia-focused third-party data.

As most advertisers in Asia are relatively new to programmatic buying, it is often a challenge to figure out which capabilities can be found in the region.

With its roots in Asia, AdzCentral positions itself as an independent ad tech firm that has a better understanding of the region to help clients navigate the display ecosystem, such as the type of technology and data that can be leveraged or companies to partner in the U.S. to reduce risk for clients here.

It has worked on campaigns for companies such as American Express, Unilever, KLM, Standard Chartered, Citibank, Hyundai, and Singtel.

When AdzCentral first started in 2010, companies were testing the RTB scene on small campaigns averaging US$5,000 to $10,000.

The budgets are much bigger now with average campaign size grown 10 to 20 fold, Behnam notes.

AdzCentral has an office in Singapore, with sales presence in Thailand and Malaysia as well as sales partnerships in India and the Middle East.

The company is eyeing emerging Southeast Asia markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam as they start to know about RTB and not as many ad tech players have been established in those countries yet.

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