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SPH and Mediacorp programmatic exchange goes live with former Havas executive at the helm

A joint venture between Mediacorp and Singapore Press Holdings to create a programmatic trading desk has gone live with digital marketer Hari Shankar spearheading the operation.

Singapore Media Exchange, an initiative flagged last August, is an independently operated exchange that gives advertisers’ access to almost all the media firms’ digital inventory including SPH’s flagship titles, The Straits Times and Business Insider, plus Channel News Asia, TODAY and catch-up television channel Toggle Entertainment from Mediacorp.

SMX is also extending the platform beyond SPH and Mediacorp to “other like-minded premium publishers”.

“There is already keen interest being seen from other publishers who are seeking alternative means to monetise their traffic,” SMX said in a statement.

Shankar, formerly managing director at Ecselis, the strategic arm of Havas Media Group, was appointed to head the operation after a search was launched for a chief executive who was independent of both SPH and Mediacorp.

SPH digital division executive vice president Julian Tan, who is also a director of SMX, described the launch as the “tip of the iceberg”.

“Through the use of advanced programmatic technology, we are looking to build a premium programmatic marketplace in Singapore, offering advertisers a trusted environment at scale.

“With this alliance we also hope to seek ‘others like us to partner so that SMX can widen its reach beyond Mediacorp and SPH as well as deepen its data depth.”

SMX will include multi-screening capability that will enable advertisers to synchronise their programmatic buys in real time based on TV events. SMX said it will leverage the strengths of Mediacorp’s TV reach and drive online-offline integrated marketing campaigns.

It claimed it was the first time such functionality has been available in Singapore.

Shankar said the launch comes as a time when brands are looking for risk-free advertising environments.

“SMX is a harbinger of things to come in the programmatic space in Singapore following similar developments in other parts of the world. I am incredibly excited to lead this initiative to deliver a premium, brand safe alternative for programmatic buyers in Singapore.”

From left: Hari Shankar, Julian Tan and Roger Moy

Among the similar developments mentioned by Shankar is the Malaysia Premium Publishers Marketplace, a national alliance which initially comprised Media Prima Group, Star Media Group, Utusan Malaysia, MCIL and The Edge.

But the consortium, which aimed to help claw back digital advertising revenue from Facebook and Google, suffered a major blow in March when Media Prima, which owns the newspapers The New Straits Times and Berita Harian, pulled out just seven months after it launched.

Similar ventures have been unsuccessfully attempted in Indonesia while a project in Thailand was described as “like herding cats”.

Other similar set-ups include The Pangaea Alliance, a consortium of UK-based publishers Guardian – which initially led the project – CNN International, the Financial Times, Thomson Reuters and The Economist .

SMX claims it will commit to two billion video and display impressions annually across the platforms.

The desk will be powered by AppNexus and Lotame.

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