Ex-Cadreon director set to tackle programmatic gripes

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 4 November 2014

Former Cadreon senior exec Shun Takahashi has set up what he calls 'Australia’s first agnostic programmatic ad-trading consultancy' - Openpool.

With programmatic media spend rapidly increasing across the globe, a growing number of Australian brands, agencies and savvy CMOs are sitting up and taking note.

Programmatic trading has started to show its significant value and the feasibility to become the foundation of media buying, but as we know across the Australian market, this comes with challenges, deciphering varying interpretations and adjusting media spend to the get the new concept going.

Founder of Openpool Takahashi told AdNews that as an industry “we haven’t been doing a great job” at circulating and evaluating information on programmatic, and that this now needs addressing.

“The gap in knowledge and understanding the importance of such an aspect of business as this, is the main challenge we face in the industry today, he said.

“The rest will fall into place, such as brand safety, viewability, tracking capability and transparency, Takahashi said.

“The lack of knowledge only creates fear, but knowledge creates excitement. And we just want to be a part of that excitement.”

Sydney-based Takahashi, who has also previously worked at media agency Initiative, says put simply, programmatic ad buying is the use of automated software to purchase digital advertising, instead of the traditional process that involves sales negotiations and manual orders. “In a nutshell we are talking about using machines to buy ads,” he said.

He said people should view programmatic trading as an enabler of making ads more relevant and appealing to their audience.

“It’s easy to forget that this is relatively new technology that started to surface in Australia about three years ago. Therefore it’s not surprising that there are lots of uncertainties, including concerns around brand safety, viewability and transparency.”

The programmatic space is crowded

According to Magna Global research, globally, programmatic media spend will grow to 42% of total display-related spend this year, compared to 33% last year and to 48% of total spend on a global basis predicted for 2015.

So with the definition out the way, what is an agnostic programmatic ad-trading consultancy?
Takahashi said Openpool offers a “consultancy in programmatic trading” without having any affiliation with vendors and publishers. Meaning it can provide advice and guidance that “solely works to client’s best interests”.

With current clients he is providing services such as auditing programmatic trading, building sustainable client-centric trading desk business, generating business cases for trading and advice and evaluation of ad tech and media choices.

Takahashi said the programmatic space is crowded and there is still a high-level of concern around vested interests for brands who want to capture the best audiences, which is why it wants to shed some light on the whole industry and be a trusted “impartial” partner and guide.

He said the need is evident across the entire digital advertising industry in Australia – from brands and marketers, to publishers, agencies and individual trading desks. He feels advice is more trustworthy coming from a third party entity with zero affiliation to any parties.

“It is a standard business practice to have commitments or contracts with suppliers to drive larger buying power, but it is fair to say that this impacts judgements as to where the investment goes,” he explained.

“Great strategy and execution won’t be born without knowing what’s out there in the market. At the moment, the control of that information isn’t sitting at the right place. Some serious investment is being made in programmatic, so I see a natural shift in demand for players like us to assist in the process.”

Being a former director of the media buying arms of IPG Mediabrands, Cadreon, Takahashi said he embraced company teachings, which have become the backbone of what he does today. This means always “being ahead of the curve, putting the client first and being tech agnostic”.

“At the end of last year, I started to see a lot of negative press around trading desks. The generalisation of how trading desks are operated and being labelled as ‘rip off units’ was really upsetting at time,” Takahashi said.

“I soon then started to realise that there were no third party entities really out there that could step in and put some sense into this.”

Hidden agendas

He said while industry leaders speak up, they are all a part of their individual organisations and no matter how intelligent and constructive their insights and views were, he can't help but look for some hidden agenda behind it.

Which is why he saw the necessity of having the presence of an advisory role in programmatic trading, as Openpool provides insights from the perspective of a third party.

So how should people view the at times, complex sounding concept of programmatic and what are the core programmatic models to be aware of?

Takahashi said while there are several definitions out there in the market, his version of programmatic trading is the practice of using software to buy digital media, including display, video, social, mobile, linear TV and outdoor. He said you can then break this down to real-time bidding and direct buys.

“Real-time bidding allows you to purchase media in real-time by bidding on ad placements, allowing the algorithm to make all the bidding decisions and purchasing for you,” Takahashi explained.

“And there is direct buys. You can purchase guaranteed or reserved inventories through consoles in an automated fashion. On top of these, the capability of understanding, building, targeting and purchasing your audience helps your buying decision to be a much smarter one.”

Are you ahead of the curve with programmatic or still unsure on it all? Does the industry need more consultancies help with the adjustment into programmatic? Log in or comment as a guest below to share your insights.

For more news on programmatic:

Australia is leading the world in mobile programmatic growth
Starcom and Zenith to benefit from Publicis' first programmatic venture
Foxtel takes programmatic video advertising in-house

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop me a line at pippachambers@yaffa.com.au

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