Industry profile: The AdColony Q&A

Looking at how the media and marketing industry is advancing technologically and name-checking some greats from the past (David Ogilvy and Steve Jobs) along the way – AdColony gives us the lowdown on how the company is positioned in the new digital age

How and why is your company different from all the others out there, what is unique about what you do and your approach?

“We’re a tech, creative and innovation focused mobile marketing platform with a unique vision around driving scalable next-generation video ad experiences that engage consumers and excite brands. We put great ads literally in the hands of consumers.

“We passionately believe that for marketers, mobile apps – especially gaming – are the new (and improved) social media in terms of connecting with consumers. Mobile apps offer huge reach, are audience targeted and engaging. They allow marketers to build consumer trust via user-initiated opt-in ads across brand-safe, professional, non-user-generated content.æ

Who are your clients?

“We work with many of the major global and local brands across Asia-Pacific, including Google, Amazon, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Uber. Our huge audience of target consumers in all the key markets makes it easy for these businesses to drive outcomes and truly engage with their target customers.

“We also work with the world’s top app publishers, including Rovio, Supercell and Ubisoft, to deliver high-quality ads that complement app experiences. This is why we are trusted by over 85 percent of the top grossing app developers and consistently rank highest for retention amongst user acquisition partners.”


What is your biggest account

“It’s impossible to single out individual clients, especially since mobile is such a fast-moving, high-growth space. We have long-term relationships with 90% of the top 100 global advertisers and aim to keep it that way.”

Which countries do you operate in?

“We operate across every market in Asia-Pacific with teams on the ground in Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.”

And which segments?

“FMCG, Tech, Auto and D2C make up the largest chunk of our business. Gaming is a big vertical for us as well obviously, not just in mobile but working with hardware businesses like Microsoft and Sony.

“Entertainment brands like Universal or Disney are another important segment. With the wealth of video content they have access to, they are typically well-suited to the transition to advanced interactive and vertical video formats.”

Can you outline the services you provide?

“For advertisers, we offer advertising across a global audience of 1.4 billion consumers on the world’s hottest apps. We’re a video-first platform but also work with display and rich media ad formats, especially on bespoke ad campaigns created by Skylab, our award-winning creative team.

“Our creative formats include Aurora HD Video, which is still the only truly interactive video ad unit in mobile. We combine this mobile creativity with the data from our SDK and trusted third-party data sources.

“Programmatic advertising is an increasingly important channel for us, and we are integrated with more than 700 DSPs, alongside viewability and measurement tools including Moat, Integral Ad Science, and DoubleVerify.”

How is the industry changing?

“Ubiquitous smartphone adoption is driving change across all sectors, not just marketing. Consumers already spend most of their time in apps, and with app usage increasing 22 percent year on year, apps will be even more dominant in 2019.

“The app trend in terms of consumer attention is driven to a large extent by mobile gaming, with 27 percent of consumer time on mobile devices spent gaming. One of the biggest opportunities for brands in 2019 is leveraging mobile gaming as a high reach, context neutral environment, just like TV or social media.

“Opt-in advertising is also an emerging force right now. With the rise of subscription media like Netflix and increased adoption of ad blockers, consumers have far more choice over their exposure to ads in general. Opt-in rewarded ads on mobile allow for a much more transparent and respectful ad experience, and get 68 percent approval ratings from consumers, compared to only 20 per cent who approve of pre-roll. Ouch.

“Mobile devices are personal, so it’s crucial that advertising is delivered in a way that works for both advertisers and customers. Brand-safety and viewability measurement are also important in driving increased scrutiny of media investment and cleaner advertising experiences for consumers.”

What is the next big thing coming down the line for your industry?

“Like most new technologies, blockchain was over-hyped in 2018 when it first hit the mainstream and is now probably under-hyped. It’s a potential game changer for marketing in terms of data.

“The long-term health of advertising revolves around the industry answering two big questions: how do we manage a persistent view of online customer identity across and outside walled gardens; and how do we maintain a more respectful relationship around consumer attention and data. We think a good answer to these challenges exists in a 100 per cent transparent supply chain powered by user opt-in and blockchain protocol.


“In the future, consumers will manage their own data, privacy and exposure to commercial messaging by whitelisting and blacklisting advertisers and categories. Advertisers will incentivise users to opt-in to their advertising and share their data through real money or virtual currency and content or services.

“This consumer identity layer on the blockchain can power ubiquitous and uniform delivery and reach analysis plus control for advertisers across all channels and devices. In 2019 customers and courts – not regulators – will enforce privacy rules, and we believe marketing will win if we empower users and treat people’s attention with respect.”

What work are your most proud of and why?

“From a platform perspective, we’re very proud of our Aurora HD video product. We launched it last year and have seen amazing results for advertisers. It was built from the ground up for mobile devices, is HD quality with zero buffering, and includes a variety of possibilities for consumers to interact with the video itself. Previous examples have had users wipe steam or dust off the screen, explore different parts of a car as the video progresses, and so on. It’s really remarkable.

“In terms of work with brands, we’re very pleased with our campaigns in Asia-Pacific for Nestle DANCOW and Rexona. Both campaigns performed exceptionally well and have been recognised multiple times across industry awards this year. Nestle’s DANCOW campaign received a gold for Innovation and bronze for ‘Mobile Video’ at the Indonesia MMA Smarties and bronze for ‘Mobile Video’ at the Global MMA Smarties.”

“Rexona’s campaign built around the SEA Games won a bronze for ‘Best MarTech Solution’ and ‘Best Media Solution’ at the Spark Awards for Media Excellence, and silver at the Indonesia MMA Smarties in the ‘Cross Media’ category.”

Who are your industry heroes and why?

“An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone. Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”

“Recognise it? That was Steve Jobs changing the game by inventing (well, not quite, but smartphones wouldn’t have happened without this moment) the smartphone in 2007. The world would be a very different place without this announcement and this man. Complicated guy, but a true visionary.

“David Ogilvy is also an all-time hero of mine, although sadly I’ve never worked at Ogilvy. He only started at 38 so maybe I’ve still got time! Ogilvy was the original modern ad man. A relentlessly test-and-learn performance-focused copywriter, and the true pioneer of today’s outcomes-focused marketing industry.”

What is creativity to you?

“In the modern world, so much creativity is driven by the opportunities provided by technology and emerging consumer behaviours. As consumers spend a majority of their free time on mobile, expect mobile native interactive and vertical video formats and functionality to move front and centre and drive changes in how brands approach communicating with their customers.

“But beyond this, ideas are still the biggest differentiator for any brand. The fragmentation of the ad agency business and the rise of the consultancies is a worrying trend in a time when creativity is more essential than ever.”


If you had to pick one thing that has damaged the industry as a whole, what would it be?

“Challenges around brand safety. From Keith Weed of Unilever telling the industry to ‘drain the swamp’, via the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, to the rise of ad blockers, online advertising quality has entered every industry discussion over the past few years.

“At AdColony, we’re laser-focused on protecting brands from unsafe environments, preventing ad fraud and ensuring viewability. But I’m still amazed at the number of marketers who don’t use the tech available to verify their activity, or play it fast-and-loose with consumer data on social media platforms.”

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the rise of artificial intelligence and its effect upon your industry?

“AI is not something to be optimistic or pessimistic about – it’s simply inevitable. From an industry perspective, we’re still far short of where we could be in our use of artificial intelligence. As AI develops in marketing, the way we display and consume advertisements and connect with customers will change with it.”

Which is better and why – a small business or a large holding company?

“Small businesses have the advantage of being nimble and responsive to change – along with creativity, the key attributes required for success in marketing in the modern world. The pendulum has swung away from the holding groups – for now – towards the upstarts. But we’re also seeing a new round of consolidation beginning with the rise of businesses like S4C.”

Finally, which international market will lead the way for your industry over the next 50 years and why?

“Is an answer other than China intellectually honest? From the WeChat mobile payment ecosystem to AR and AI, China is streets ahead of any other market and will continue to lead the world in tech and consumer brands for the next 50 years. At least.

“Beyond that, we expect the wider Asia-Pacific region to really lead the innovation charge as connectivity increases and advertisers take advantage of more connected mobile devices across the region.”



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