In a world where TV shows like Mad Men make us feel like advertising revolves around the west, it’s refreshing to work with a company whose global success has its origins in the east. Cheil Worldwide, founded in Korea by Lee Byung-chul (who also founded Samsung), is the 16th biggest global agency company with an impressive footprint across 35 countries.
So when MediaMath was selected to help drive Cheil’s expansion into the programmatic space, by building Korea’s first agency trading desk – MediaCube, I was excited at the prospect of heading up the project.
Ramping up over the past six months, this has involved utilising MediaMath’s TerminalOne infrastructure to build a platform in Korean. Cheil’s user-interface (UI) is being built via APIs on top of MediaMath’s real-time bidding technology. Doing so enables the UI to be completely localised with language and currency to make it easy to for local advertisers to use.
The technology component is at the core of my work in Korea. However, two other elements become equally important in ensuring MediaCube’s success – sales strategy and training.
The first involves identifying incremental agencies who will want to use the platform. The fact that MediaCube will have the local language and currency integrated into it will play a big part in this. It gives it a distinct advantage over global products introduced straight out of the box into non-English markets, such as Korea. Investing in a strong local team also helps in understanding the cultural challenges and nuances.
Training consists of educating the market in programmatic media buying, which is a fundamental change in the way media has been traditionally bought and sold. It’s also about how to make best use of the platform to achieve specific advertiser goals.
MediaMath’s worth lies not only in our technology but in the expertise we have in delivering substantial value for advertisers globally, which we are sharing with Cheil in Korea. This includes how we train our clients on how best to use the platform – effectively making them specialists in the products (e.g. mobile, video, social) as well as identifying and fulfilling campaign goals (e.g. engagement, conversion) and understanding which part of the platform will help achieve these.
Education and training does not just focus on the advertiser (buy-side). An equally important challenge in Korea sits with the inventory suppliers – the publishers. The majority of available RTB inventory in Korea is owned by three main publisher portals – Naver, Daum and Nate. However according to advertisers and agencies, it’s time for a change. In a fast-growing technology market with a digitally savvy consumer base, advertisers are faced with greater competition. This has made understanding the value and ROI of their media spend vital. This in turn has created a desire for all inventory to be made available via a single platform which will give a unified view of performance and enable optimisation across multiple media buys.
Needless to say there is push back from the portals. The yields (CPMs) are good and there are high sell-through rates, but there is still an opportunity to optimise, particularly around data. As we continue to see a shift from buying impressions to buying audiences, the importance of data increases. The publishers in Korea are data rich. By taking their data and overlaying it with consumer data, advertisers will see more value in buying via programmatic, and importantly, paying higher CPMs for the right audiences.
Korea has started to show great promise in terms of programmatic uptake but there is still work to do. Working with Cheil in Korea has been a great challenge and a unique opportunity. I have gained valuable insight into the Korean market and look forward with anticipation to the programmatic boom about to take place.
This is part one of a two part series on our partnership with Cheil Worldwide.