• Athina Mallis

Gai Le Roy reveals challenges and opportunities for adtech businesses in the APAC region

At AZK Media, we're passionate about helping adtech and martech businesses grow in the APAC region.


In this article, we speak with Gai Le Roy, CEO and director of IAB Australia about the challenges and opportunities for adtech businesses who are serious about growing in the APAC region.


IAB represents and works with media owners, agencies, advertisers and ad-tech to drive an effective, diverse and sustainable industry. Target Market host and AZK Media's Senior Content and Communications Specialist, Athina Mallis, speaks with Gai about how now is the best time for digital marketers to rethink strategies and how martech and adtech vendors can get noticed within the APAC region.




The digital advertising space is quickly evolving, what are some of the challenges and opportunities for digital advertisers?


Even though we're in a better place than we were 6 to 12 months ago, we're still in an uncertain market. Marketers still need to be ready for flexible planning, and ready to change their approach, their timing and their creatives, which is a challenge.


This brings us to the second point in that they're trying to manage more with fewer resources. Whether that's internal or through their agencies.


Another challenge is the changing world of identification and regulation, cookies, Apple changes - all of that. All the marketing plans that people had in place are not only changing due to COVID, due to economics, but also due, to technology and regulation.


That brings us on to the opportunities, which is that everything's changing. It's a fantastic time to rebuild, create a new strategy, not be glued to old dashboards, old KPIs - and you've almost got the excuse to go to your board or CEO and say, we need to change things.


One thing we saw some really smart marketers did at the end of last year, which is a smart thing to do in any down market, was to change and increase their investment compared to their competitors. There were some really interesting companies that were able to grab a larger share of voice, and consequently, they feel they're able to grow their market share.


There's still opportunities to do that as the market is still quite fluid.


Then the last one, and the most important one is marketers have to gain trust from their consumers or clients, depending on if they're a B2B or B2C marketer. That's the number one - so either retain or gain trust from the market and their markets.



We’re seeing a lot of discussion around privacy and the cookieless future - what does this mean for advertisers in Australia?


There are two sides to this, but it all comes from the same place and it all stems from privacy. Particularly consumer markets being sensitive to the use of data and tracking across the net.


Marketers really need to look at how they're communicating with their clients, and how they 'patch together' their marketing activity. Are they using cookies as that glue to work out frequency and reach across different campaigns, effectiveness, attribution models?


It's all going to change and that can be quite scary.


There are going to be certain metrics that won't be available in the same way. Marketers, particularly ones with larger budgets will have the opportunity to if we think about digital marketing, often we're very much bottom-up, we're building all these bits and pieces from different campaigns, different bits of spends, different activity and spending a bit more time looking top down.


What is the complete picture of the consumer? What's my total marketing spend, and thinking about market mix models and ways that look at not overestimating the impact of individual types of activity. Marketers will really have to have a good look at their attribution models.



The martech and adtech space seems to be getting more complex and competitive every year. What advice would you give adtech vendors trying to grow their presence in Australia? How can they stand out from the crowd?


Some of this advice is evergreen for want of a better word. Treat everyone with respect and relationships will be number one. Deliver on your promises, which sounds really basic. But we are used to a lot of spin, we're all marketers at heart, but make sure the messages that you're out in the market with, particularly with adtech and martech. It's the shiniest, brightest, new, innovative, market-first type initiative, which is fine and it's great to gain interest. But make sure you can deliver on those promises and get better at marketing and selling adtech/martech on the clear economic benefit that the company has in working with you.


I don't mean this just from a cost point of view. Obviously, any procurement company is looking at cost. But the actual benefit helps you gain consumer trust and start modeling out what that means for a company in terms of retention, in terms of credibility and market. Work with your prospective clients to help them understand what it's going to do for their business.


As a tech-focused media and marketing agency, we work closely with a lot of global martech and adtech firms to help them grow in the APAC region. What are the common mistakes you see adtech vendors make when trying to get noticed and market themselves in the region?


There's probably an overused technique of being highly critical of competitors early on. Someone's entering the market, there's an incumbent, and the new player goes in very hard criticising that incumbent.


Where it leaves your potential clients is in a really tricky situation.


Because the people that you're talking to have possibly made a very well thought through decision to go with your competitor. It can feel quite confronting to almost look as though you've made a silly decision.


I'd say go gently, point out your benefits, possibly scrutinise techniques, rather than individual companies.


Then, this advice has been around for a while, but I think we're still pretty guilty in the industry of overusing buzzwords. Use simple language, make it feel approachable and easy to implement.


If you're a CEO, CMO or CTO, and you're trying to sell this adtech or this piece of technology into your company, language that the CFO or the CEO can understand and easily understand the value to your company.


What are you looking forward to in terms of digital advertising?


There's a lot of exciting things, I think we were all exhausted at the end of 2020. We've all had to take a bit of a deep breath to get it to get excited again.


But one lovely thing in the Australian market is we have got some really strong marketing investments. Actually, strangely enough, we saw particular types of ad inventory selling out for the first time for a long time, particularly in the video space, which meant marketers were trying new things.


I'm really excited to see what those marketers make of those different investments, if they've gone into podcasting, if they've gone into gaming, if they've gone into programmatic digital out of home. If they felt those investments, gave them good ROI, and what that means for their marketing mix in 2021. I think there's going to be a lot more experimentation in 2021.


I'm excited about some positive energy in the markets and some good news stories. Some stories that we've seen come through are companies that have changed their strategy, and it's worked. Some really interesting, smaller direct-to-consumer brands have really cut through during the year, particularly local ones.


When delivery from overseas was a problem, we had some really interesting, smaller brands being able to sort of step into that gap that we normally would have relied on overseas markets. So I think we're ready for a lot of good news stories that feel very human. That feels very positive and very inspiring.



Finally, what should martech and adtech vendors start doing? And then what should martech and adtech vendors stop doing?


Start telling those good stories, don't tell your own story, always tell your client stories. The markets are ready for good news stories. The martech and ad tech companies can bring them to life. They're often working with small innovative brands that are doing great stuff.


Let your client stories tell your own story. I think that would be one of the most important things.


Be that brave marketer who does drop the jargon and tell your story clearly, cleanly and not be afraid to have those conversations. You'll be surprised how that opens up that C-level conversation. You'll be more likely to be invited into a boardroom, if you can tell that story in simple language and in business language than if you do it in, in adtech or in martech language.


Tell good stories, simplify, hire great people. Again, these are all classic, you know, business stories, but there are a lot of great people that were let go from the market last year. Rebuild your team, with the right people with the right skills, who are going to bring the right energy you need to drive successful outcomes.


Tune into the full podcast here.


Target Market, a podcast series by AZK Media, where the world’s most premium thought leaders across technology, marketing and data come together to share their insights. Hosted by Athina Mallis.