With over 4 billion consumers in 23 countries speaking 14 different languages, the APAC region has always been challenging for publishers. And now that Facebook’s 673 million users make APAC the social media giant’s largest market  – premium publishers are under even more pressure.

Factor in the explosive growth of mobile in this market, and the challenges multiply. APAC is not only a mobile-first market, but large parts of the region are mobile-only, having leap-frogged the desktop entirely.

As the rest of the world catches up – a shift happening at lightning speed – trends in APAC publishing are worth paying attention to for publishers everywhere. And one of the biggest lessons is that you can’t go it alone.

The mobile-first challenge for publishers… and the big opportunity

Mobile’s smaller advertising environment makes engaging consumers and monetizing content increasingly tough. That’s not news. But it isn’t just the tiny screens that present a challenge. In three of APAC’s most developed online markets – Australia, Japan and Singapore – a recent survey found that at least half of respondents owned more than four devices.

For publishers, that means it’s tough to know whether they’re talking to one consumer or several different consumers. And you can’t provide the best marketing opportunities to advertisers when it’s hard to identify your individual consumers.

So how are the savviest APAC publishers facing the challenges of this new environment? They’re doing it through data alliances that bring together other publishers – sometimes-even competitors – to aggregate their audiences. This makes it easier for advertisers to engage larger, higher quality audiences via a single trading point. And it represents a huge opportunity.

Different models being used to run data alliances

When major brands unlock their CRM data and form alliances

Brands uniting to form something greater than themselves isn’t new, but brands coming together to leveraging their combined data is. Through overlaying audience segments in a DSP and by deploying smart tagging solutions, brands are going it alone.

This approach offers a huge opportunity for publishers who have the audience and resulting consumer demand. RedPlanet by Qantas Loyalty realized this opportunity and quickly built out alliances with leading finance, retail and travel verticals. In a digital world, I expect to see a lot growth in this area as alliances join the dots between online and physical assets in more compelling ways.

When agencies aggregate audiences to answer brand safety fears

As the value of these publisher data alliances becomes clear, agencies are shifting their focus from open exchanges to trusted environments, expanding the concept of ”private market place, guaranteed.”

Advertisers represented by large agency groups connect into publisher audience demand via their agencies trading desks. In APAC, one of the largest of these networks is Dentsu’s AMNET, which helps their advertisers access premium publishers. Their ‘Camelot’ alliance gives Dentsu advertisers access to the top 30 publishers in Australia.

When media owners unite to offer a better alternative.

The Kiwi Programmatic Exchange (KPEX) has become so popular with New Zealand publishers and advertisers that it offers audience reach even greater than Facebook, reaching over 80 percent of New Zealanders.

These private marketplaces (PMPs) not only facilitate data sharing, they ensure that advertisers are appearing in brand safe environments. And according to our own findings in Australia, advertiser demand for audience guaranteed PMPs is set to double this year.

As technology disrupters shake up the competitive landscape, media owners’ ability to grow will continue to be under threat. But there’s no denying that data alliances pose an opportunity for growth. The fact is, media owners already have all of the data necessary to arm themselves for battle against the disrupters. They just need a better way to capitalize on it.

Three tips for data alliance success

  1. The first step is transparency

With increased advertiser demand, larger investments are being made in data alliances, including PMPs. With those investments come increased scrutiny — and the need for greater transparency.

For these alliances to be successful, advertisers are increasingly demanding that 3rd parties score the audience on metrics like viewability, fraud and brand safety. In APAC, companies like Integral Ad Science and Moat are helping publishers demonstrate that quality audiences are worth more, while also supporting the agency advertiser community with tools that verify audience standards.

  1. Look inward at your own data

Building a data alliance or PMP strategy makes good sense for many publishers, but before you do that, you need to understand your own data – and the value you can add to one of these networks.

You’ll need a view to everything from social media, search, mobile, and web analytics to e-mail, ad platforms, transaction engines, marketing automation tools, and CRM systems. You’ll also want to cleanse, map and integrate your data, and then present it in a comprehensive way, because that’s what it takes to gain a better understanding of readers and users – no matter what device they’re on.

  1. Test, iterate and optimize — then start all over again

Deploy an AGILE approach to product rollout. Make your metrics matter and ensure that you have C-level sponsors and team alignment – share the good and the bad news and learn from it. Even the most risk adverse partners have to open up to try and leap frog their competitors.

With all this data at your fingertips, you’ll be ready to join forces with other publishers, as well as advertisers and agencies, to deliver more value and insights to your advertisers. And you’ll be in a good position to translate the audience data your partners and competitors are collecting into better, more immersive experiences for your readers.

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Posted by David Raitt

David Raitt has 20 years of experience having spent a decade of those years at Google Australia and the UK in leadership roles. David, is proven at running multi-million dollar advertising teams and most recently served as the ANZ MD of ad tech player Criteo, along with serving as the Sales Director for Spotify ANZ. David learned his trade by building out Lycos Europe for Bertelsmann as an analyst in the 1990’s.

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