MediaMedia BuyingWhy programmatic video is the next big thing in APAC (and what brands should do about it)

Why programmatic video is the next big thing in APAC (and what brands should do about it)

Programmatic is yet to fully mature in Asia, but it has seen significant advancements over the past few years, and advertisers need to be ready.

Programmatic is yet to fully mature in Asia, but it has seen significant advancements over the past few years, and advertisers need to be ready.

Marketers and agencies alike have finally gone from just theorizing the benefits of programmatic channels, to actually seeing the benefits and real impact it can have on an organization’s bottom line.

As programmatic has evolved in Asia over the past two years, brands are much more focused on using it as one of their key central marketing channels.

This is a medium that is based on data, real-time marketing, audience insights, and cross-platform targeting among others. Really, what’s not to like about it?

A recent Magna Global report puts 2015 programmatic penetration across Asia at 17%, but is slated to see strong growth hitting the 35% level by 2019.

Programmatic APAC_Magna Global_Asia programmatic penetration_600

Right now the top three markets that are driving programmatic within this region in order of spend are Japan, China and Australia. With China probably looking to take the top spot by 2017, in my opinion.

Within the bucket of programmatic, one area that we are seeing tremendous growth and general client excitement around is programmatic video. Right now our general estimates are that video driven programmatically in Asia represents north of 40% of total programmatic. Shown below,  Magna Global puts it at 34%, which is already beating the global average of 26%.

Programmatic APAC_programmatic spend by format_600

There are a few reasons we are seeing this large shift in client spend towards programmatic video.

1. Consumer behavior

First and foremost is the fact that more and more consumers in Asia are simply watching video online than ever before. The general age range in Asia is much younger than those in other regions and because of this they have grown up on video and are used to this medium – if not merely expecting it.

2. Mobile first markets

Mobile first is clearly helping to drive video usage. And if there’s any region in the world that defines the mobile first movement it would be Asia. Just take the subway in Tokyo during the morning commute and the widescale consumption of video on mobile will be evident.

3. Receptivity

Receptivity towards video advertising is surprisingly high in Asia. The below graph from eMarketer looks at the mobile users in Asia who are most receptive to digital video ads and the Philippines are punching far above the rest, at a 57% receptivity rate. India comes in next at 34%. The global average sits at just 22%.

Programmatic_emarketer_receptivity to digital ads_APAC_600

Because of all the advantages of programmatic video and the consumption trends supporting the medium, we are seeing certain markets starting to make big shifts. One of these such markets is Australia.

As indicated in the below chart, Australia is seeing a huge shift in programmatic video – from 26% in 2015 to 55% in 2019. This is a big swing, particularly because the general media consumption of traditional TV among Australians has not really decreased much.


Another market doing exciting things in programmatic is China. In 2016, for the first time ever, more than half of digital advertising in China will be programmatic, according to a recent eMarketer report. This is mostly across the BAT companies of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Looking at just the programmatic video portion and we are seeing strong projections of around 85% growth between 2016 and 2017.

Programmatic_emarketer_spend in China_600

To win at programmatic video in Asia there are a few immediate areas brands should start looking at. Here are four of these areas:

1. Dayparting

Do your customers stream video on their desktops during the day, and mobile devices at night? These days audiences are moving seamlessly from laptop to smartphone to tablet, and a solid programmatic strategy is to simply meet them where they are.

Your programmatic video approach should take full advantage of all the dayparting capabilities as well as the geography and lifestyle targeting abilities so you can ensure you are targeting the right audiences on the right devices at the right times.

2)  Private marketplaces

This year we have seen a strong emergence of private marketplaces within Asia. Quality inventory is still scarce within this region, therefore a shift towards private marketplaces for video would help guarantee premium inventory for brands that are willing to pay for it.

To win in the programmatic game, brands would need to understand how private marketplaces work and jump in early to take advantage of premium inventory and CPMs that are still affordable, albeit slowly increasing.

3) Mix-reach planning

Brands in Asia traditionally still spend a large portion of their media budgets in traditional TV. To gain incremental reach with similar or even slightly lower costs, advertisers should look to deploy programmatic video, but with a strong view towards data.

By either working with measurement companies likes Nielsen or even doing your own internal data analysis and forecasting, brands can find out what levels of programmatic video spend is enough to drive incremental reach. Also, how much of a decrease in traditional TV spend we can make while still increasing our reach curves would be another relevant outcome through data analytics.

4) Viewability

Particularly over the past year, there have been mounting concerns around whether or not our ads have a fair shot at being “in-view”, or even seen by a real human versus a bot. To avoid advertisers wasting their media dollars on ads that are never actually seen, they have to demand that their partners, including publishers and media providers, implement anti-fraud solutions.

Brands should also look at instituting viewability as a standard brand measure for video. By adding pressure to your partners and ensuring the right technology is in place, brands can immediately curb media wastage, resulting in a smarter use of media investment.


I’ve looked at what I believe to be four critical areas for any brand to examine when deploying or ramping up their programmatic video program. There are certainly many more, but by first nailing down these fundamentals, advertisers in this region will be in a stronger position to take a programmatic video strategy to the next level.

*Feature image courtesy Magna Global


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