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Acqua Media X AdAsia Holdings - post-merger synergy, client value and trends in Asia

On 7 August 2018, AnyMind Group acquired Acqua Media, a Hong Kong-based publisher trading desk, in a bid to increase its growth in the region. Falling under the AdAsia Holdings brand, the acquisition follows in a similar vein to FourM in October 2017

Left to right: Hitoshi Maruyama, Ben Chien, Vivek Misra

We sit down with Ben Chien, founder of Acqua Media, and now, AnyMind Group’s General Manager of Hong Kong and Regional Director of Publisher Engagement for Greater China and Australia, Hitoshi Maruyama, Chief Strategy Officer, and Vivek Misra, Director of Strategic Initiatives, to discuss more about post-merger synergy and trends for the region, and what advertisers and publishers can expect, moving forward.

Please share with us share the full extent of Acqua Media’s capabilities

Ben Chien: Acqua Media provides online advertising yield management services for web publishers and app developers, including multi-SSP mediation, PMP sales and ad ops services, data management platform solutions, ad server optimization, and rich creative services. Our publisher pool has grown in the past five years, and is now spread across Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, and Australia.

What can we expect from the synergy between Acqua Media’s capabilities and AdAsia Holdings’ offerings?

Hitoshi Maruyama: On a company-wide level, we’re able to gain immediate sell-side share in the Greater China region, and unlock the Australian market for our advertiser clients. At the same time, we’re can provide solutions like the AdAsia Digital Platform for Publishers, and new demand sources, to a new, immediate customer base.

Vivek Misra: Having over 250 new publisher partners is something that only boosts our offerings to advertisers. Combined with the rollout of the AdAsia Premium Marketplace, we’re able to create an entirely new market offering in the region, which our clients on both the buy- and sell-side are hungry for.

Ben: Having grown with our partner publishers as Acqua Media, we can now take them to that next stage of growth, connecting with AdAsia Holdings’ demand ecosystem of advertisers across Asia – opening up entirely new revenue sources for our publishers.

What should advertisers in Asia expect from this news moving forward?

Vivek: Advertisers in APAC have not had the opportunity to work with a scaled, high quality, APAC-centric inventory marketplace in recent years. They have had to either rely on international publishers in APAC or market-limited local ad networks with questionable inventory sourcing and quality.

For the very first time, we are able to bring high performance, innovative ad formats via a publisher-direct supply chain using cutting-edge technology to score, curate and package inventory on a whole range of metrics like viewability, ad density, page position as well as website performance.

At the same time, we are in the process of consolidating a valuable APAC audience pool across the marketplace, to help our advertisers meet their specific reach goals through a consistent, omnichannel approach.

What should publishers in Asia expect from this news moving forward?

Ben: The synergy between AdAsia Holdings and Acqua Media will add regional PMP budgets on top of Acqua’s already strong local PMP budget, as well as the latest rich creative formats to maximize publishers CPM and revenue.

Hitoshi: Apart from the AdAsia Digital Platform for Publishers and AdAsia Premium Marketplace, what publishers in Asia get as a whole, is access to a scaled repository of expertise. As a result of developing local Publisher Engagement teams (site monetization and consultational experts for AdAsia’s partner publishers to tap on), we are able to provide local publishers in our 11 markets, with access to regional and cross-border best practices. This is something that has not been done to a great extent, and we’re looking forward to driving it for the industry.

Could you share what’s in the product pipeline?

Vivek: Over the last few months, we have shipped product at a scorching pace: AdAsia Premium Marketplace now has a full feature product portfolio across video, rich media and display that helps deliver objective-based media buying for clients in a highly brand safe, viewable environment.

Over the next quarter, our focus will be on rolling out a full semantic contextual capability for marketers to further sharpen their content targeting. We are also near to the alpha release of a brand lift survey-offering for our marketplace which will help our clients optimise their brand spend ROI.

Over the medium term, offline to online attribution and location-based inventory is something that we would focus on from a product perspective.

Hitoshi: As for ADPP (AdAsia Digital Platform for Publishers), we are currently enhancing two areas. We’re developing BI capabilities that focus on integrating additional streams of data into the platform to create more valuable insights for publishers, such as Google Analytics and quality measurement scores. Another area is enhancing automation through AI and machine learning. For most parts, we’re already utilizing it for floor price and dynamic allocation optimization, but we are also introducing a newly developed optimization tool to make the process more efficient and effective to maximize the revenue for publishers.

Ben, with your recent appointment, what can we expect from AdAsia Holdings for the region moving forward?

Ben: As the lead of Greater China (Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong), we expect to further open up this region to global advertisers, along with other tech vendors who are looking for further growth here.

What’s most exciting though, is to provide the region with access to a coalition of brand-safe and highly viewable publishers from multiple geographies. This would solve current obstacles of both regional advertisers and publishers.

Are there any particular advertiser and publisher trends in Southeast Asia, Greater China and Japan that you would like to point out?

Vivek: Advertisers are looking for more and more premium, brand-safe context that goes beyond the traditional walled gardens. APM is well positioned to deliver on this mandate with effectiveness and reach within APAC. Also, OTT and connected TV is another big area that markets are looking at but are not necessarily ready for. A partner who could handhold clients in these new areas would win in APAC.

Hitoshi: As Vivek mentioned, the market is calling out for increased transparency and good quality traffic from advertisers especially in Southeast Asia. We are working very closely with publisher partners to increase the viewability and introducing the best practice to eliminate IVT.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Ben: AdAsia Holdings leverages on AI to solve digital advertising issues in different geographies, such as creating more brand-safe and viewable, rich creative inventory in Greater China, providing data targeting and private marketplace trading capability for publishers so that advertisers can reach the right audiences.

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