In this exclusive “Masters of Media” series, Integral Ad Science (IAS) speaks to the Movers and Shakers of the Southeast Asia advertising industry, on all matters digital.
We spoke to Annie Chan, Director, Tech Partnerships APAC Platform services at GroupM. Annie is an industry veteran with over 10 years of experience in tech ops across buy and sell side. She’s worked with tech startups and agency groups across the Asia-Pacific region.
Integral Ad Science (IAS): Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Could you tell us about your digital advertising journey?
Annie Chan, GroupM (Annie): Post university, I jumped straight into the media industry and started my career as a digital coordinator at UM Sydney, Australia, working with one of the very first digital specialist teams across clients like Microsoft, Intel, and Sony Pictures. I wanted great “ad ops” to become mainstream and this meant getting the basics right and fully understanding the building blocks and processes behind the MadTech ecosystem. Later, I moved over to the publisher/ad tech side, working at Fairfax (AU), CBS Interactive and multiple ad tech start-ups. I have now done a full circle back to the agency world and it has given me a 360 understanding of MadTech! Working in an agency within a consulting scope has been extremely rewarding because it allows me to dig into the latest hot technology topics that are relevant to our clients.
IAS: What are the key industry developments you’re excited about?
Annie: I am excited about the emerging technologies that are trying to solve the consumer identity challenge in a world where user-consent-transparency is now a requirement. Some paint a very bleak picture around the future of cookies, gaps in measurement, and audience targeting, but there is burgeoning innovation, new ways of thinking, and invigorated partnerships working in this area. There are new perspectives, consortiums and workstreams aimed at defining and/or developing a universal consumer identity that is accessible and scalable (e.g. TTD Unified ID, DigiTrust standardized ID, etc.)
IAS: What is your opinion regarding the industry’s move from brand safety to brand suitability?
Annie: It is heading in the right direction, but much education is still needed across both the buy and sell sides. Having the right conversations with advertisers and suppliers to find a balance that meets the needs of both parties is important. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to Brand Safety. GroupM’s position is about working with brands to understand brand suitability and risk tolerance. It is particularly important in an age where everyone is a content producer and ads are placed in these average consumer-generated environments.
IAS: What are the key initiatives pertaining to digital media quality your company is prioritizing right now?
Annie: Building agility in the way we solve our clients’ problems, whether it is through technology, people or process. We often get bogged down with our own worlds, fighting fires, and forget that it is about how we (people and technology) work together. This includes making data accessible (in a legally compliant way) and processes more efficient for campaign enablement in a brand-safe, viewable environment.
IAS: What are the top key trends you foresee in 2020?
Annie: Data, data, data! Data privacy and compliance will increasingly be the underpinning theme around every tech conversation. All eyes will be on what the big global players will do around this (i.e. Google with their Chrome privacy setting tool and Facebook with a similar approach), as well as e-commerce platforms opening partnerships/data opportunities.
We are also likely to see the emergence of re-engineered techniques for contextual targeting, native, and video, as well as more education and leadership from publishers on the value exchange to the end consumer.
Lastly, the dominance of consumer data platforms (CDPs) and consent management platforms (CMPs) will be the next wave of conversation with brands to offer a true omnichannel marketing experience.
IAS: What do you do in your free time?
Annie: Lately, I have been watching cooking videos from Marion Grasby (aka Mama Noi, an Australian-Thai cook, and ex-Masterchef contestant). She makes me see cooking as a pleasure and not a chore. It is also therapeutic to work through the thought process behind the ingredients that go into each dish.
Whenever I have breaks between meetings or tasks, I like staying grounded with my ad ops roots, reading up on tips, tricks or hacks that people write about on blogs or Reddit. While I do not get involved in planning or ad ops anymore, knowing what the new features and developments help me get a better perspective for those who are using it and enables me to advise my clients and agency colleagues across the reality of theory versus practice.
IAS: What is your advice to the fresh talent in the industry?
Annie: Do not skip the basics, stay grounded and stay curious.
When I first started in the digital space, I had exposure to full end-to-end digital specialist experience. This included leveraging data and research to extrapolate learnings for planning, setting up campaigns for my clients, running my own reports, and writing up my own analysis. That was a valuable experience that helped build the breadth and depth of the knowledge I have today.
More importantly, always be curious! That will help you keep up with all the news and topics that are happening across the industry.