Everyone is talking about digital these days, but how much do you know about programmatic advertising, the innovation that has transformed marketing on the internet as we know it? In the ‘Passionate About Programmatic’ series, we highlight the people driving forward this revolutionary and ever-changing field of advertising, sharing perspectives from around the globe. 

K Haravin – APEX Exchange (Publicis Media) 

Nice to meet you! Tell us about yourself and your current role. 

Hi everyone! My name is Haravin. Currently, I am with Publicis Media APEX in a Senior Regional Manager Role. In today’s fragmented and dynamic media world, new opportunities have arisen to offer clients significant opportunities to derive additional or exceptional value, whilst also helping to drive the Publicis business forward. APEX is a commercial practice within Publicis Media that develops innovative offerings through direct partnerships and principal investments, allowing clients to benefit from custom solutions that best fit their business challenges.

I have been in the programmatic industry for about four and a half years. I am overseeing the development and growth of APEX in the APAC region, supporting key initiatives including multi-market activation of key clients, developing long-term strategies to fit their market dynamics, and guiding local markets to modernise our trading approach of APEX Exchange activity across both digital and offline media in Southeast Asia. 

How did you get into programmatic advertising, and what do you love most about it?

When studying Marketing in National University of Singapore (NUS), I was intrigued with digital advertising. I did an internship in my third year and found programmatic advertising to be at the core of a lot of discussions. This made me want to get into it and try it first-hand. Thankfully, I got the opportunity and have been loving it since!

I love that in the programmatic space, things can be done in real time. For example, making decisions on ad slots at that moment in time, depending on certain campaign requirements you may have, such as if the user has seen the ad before or even if they’ve shown previous interest in the product. Furthermore, programmatic is continuously evolving and never stagnant. 

We are constantly faced with new challenges–for example, cookieless future, brand safety, etc. This makes the challenge exhilarating and makes me want to find solutions to these for my clients. The shift we are seeing in the industry towards programmatic, as well as seeing its exponential growth just makes working in this space all the more exciting.

How would you explain programmatic advertising to someone outside of the industry?

A long time ago, advertisers had to contact individual publishers one by one and get their ads placed. This led to much wastage as those audiences who were not part of the desired audience would be shown the ad. 

Hence, no matter how creative or brilliant the ad, having the right placement is crucial as it’s the only way it’s going to be seen by the intended audience. Therefore, buying the best ad space at the best price and showing it to the right audience, through real-time automation, is what programmatic advertising is all about.

What are your thoughts on the cookieless future? 

This is one of the most talked about topics in the last year and it is coming to us very soon. Organizations are in different stages to counter this issue with varying potential for scale, levels of investment needed, and infrastructure requirements. For example, Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoCs) has been pushed back and is still being tested while the TradeDesk has developed Unified ID 2.0. Other third-party data providers are also trying to come up with their own cookieless identity solution. There is no one right solution out there right now as everyone is still trying to figure out this new unknown. Nevertheless, there are some actions that can be taken.

In the absence of third-party cookies, a brand’s first-party data is its most powerful possession. Now is the time to do an audit of your data to understand what you’ve got and how you can make full use of it. Beyond data, contextual placement can be a good way to reach relevant  audiences in a cookieless world. For the immediate future, businesses should continue to utilise third-party tracking tools and tactics and not totally abandon it.

It’s fine if your business hasn’t figured out the best option yet. There is still time to adapt, but you shouldn’t wait any longer to plan your transition and give this a serious thought. Do not take this as an end or catastrophe, but take it as an opportunity to redefine the ways we have been dealing with data.

What is your biggest learning from the last 18 months, and what do you have your eye on for 2022? 

COVID-19 has been in the spotlight in the last 18 months in all our lives. The resulting change in consumer media consumption patterns, combined with global economic turmoil, altered many ad investment strategies. Marketing spends have come under pressure and brands have been looking for better return on investments. Despite such challenges, programmatic has been the go-to solution and helped advertisers reach their goals. For example, APEX has been a vital partner for a number of advertisers in taking on the investment risk, to deliver increased savings and guaranteed business outcomes. This has taught me that no matter what the economic climate is, programmatic has a crucial part to play in ensuring businesses reach their objectives.

For 2022, though all eyes are already on the cookieless future preparation, another key development would be on programmatic digital out-of-home (pDOOH) solution. Out-of-home (OOH) media has been one of the media hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.  

In Asia, as the world reopens and vaccinations continue, people will be heading out more in 2022. OOH vendors are also making more of their properties to be pDOOH-compatible. Furthermore, with third-party cookies being phased out gradually, those who rely heavily on programmatic marketing tactics are seeking alternative means of reaching audiences and behavioural tracking. PDOOH could be an option here. This would be an exciting one for 2022 for sure.

The Quantcast Query (a rapid-fire Q&A)

Who is your role model–in the industry or otherwise?

Sunder Pichai from Google. From his humble upbringing to his rise to the top is very admirable and inspirational.

What is your favourite campaign of the past year?

We ran a campaign to drive smokers to sign up to a customised cessation program. It was a performance-driven campaign with a guaranteed signup number promised. In the bigger scheme of things, it was nice to play a part in getting people to quit and live a healthier lifestyle.

What is the best and worst piece of advice that you’ve been given?

Worst piece: Job hop to get a raise. 

Best piece: Work hard, show dedication, and you will get where you need to be.

Which industry acronym is your favourite–or driving you up the wall? 

Driving me up the wall: CPUVR – Cost Per Unique Viewable Reach. This was a campaign KPI set by the client. Though it was an advanced KPI, calculating this for every report was a nightmare!

Favourite: Cost Per Mille (CPM). Simple but yet you would be surprised how many people in our industry do not know that M stands for mille.

Finish the sentence: To me, programmatic done well means…

…when the right audiences are reached at the right time with the use of unique data sets in a brand-safe manner, allowing clients to reach their business goals in this process.

Interested in learning more?

If you missed our earlier installments in our ‘Passionate about Programmatic’ series, check out the EMEA and AMER perspectives. 

To learn about how Quantcast is enabling brands and agencies to activate and measure campaigns in cookieless environments, check out our cookieless capabilities