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Former Vivaki APAC GM Grace Liau joins Google

Grace LiauGrace Liau, the former regional head of Publicis Group’s now-disbanded programmatic trading arm Vivaki, has joined Google as APAC head of media.

The move sees the highly-regarded Singaporean leave home again to move to Tokyo.

Liau moved back to Singapore just over two years ago after a long spell in the US, where she was part of the team that launched Audience On Demand Vivaki, Publicis Groupe’s programmatic agency trade desk.

She left Publicis Groupe, a company she worked for for 17 years, after a major restructure late last year saw the media agency brands consolidated under the Publicis Media banner, and Vivaki’s team absorbed into Publicis Media’s data, tech and innovation arm.

According to a report by programmatic trade title AdExchanger, 55% of Vivaki staff left the company after the restructure, and Liau was among a small number who joined the firm’s long-time partner Google.

Google marks Liau’s first stint away from the agency side of the business, having launched AOD in 2008. Previously, she headed up the media operations and technology practice for Digitas.

A keen observer of the business, Liau predicted consolidation in the programmatic sector after restructuring at Turn and Pubmatic in Asia at the end of last year. In a news analysis piece on Mumbrella, she said that investment in the programmatic sector has been “unsustainable.”

She wrote: “The programmatic industry has a multitude of players – both small and large – that have similar value propositions. The distinction between these players is who actually has the technology, which contributes to the trend of major players such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, AOL, Yahoo and so on, buying up smaller companies and/or build their own stacks and walled gardens.”

“Providers such as Turn invested heavily to go after client-direct money (as opposed to working with clients and their agencies) and have come to the realisation that this is as much a people business as it is a technology business. Most can’t just turn to a platform singularly, they still need hand-holding and consultation.”

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