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.
Arush Kochhar is the e-Business Transformation Lead at Nestlé Indonesia. He is a global leader passionate about leveraging digital to transform companies and deliver efficiencies.
Integral Ad Science (IAS): Hi Arush, thank you for speaking with us today. Would you be able to tell us about your digital ad journey?
Arush Kochhar, Nestle (Arush): I started my digital career in Switzerland, working for the Swiss watch company Piaget. It took me into the world of high net worth individuals and into the nuances of precision targeting. After Piaget, I joined Nestlé and from a world of microtargeting transitioned to the world of mass awareness and mass engagement. After several years in Switzerland, I moved to Indonesia to lead the digital transformation. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in many regions globally and been able to create both precision and scale while connecting brands with consumers. Digital advertising is my passion and I’m driven to understand the inner workings of the advertising ecosystem and it’s exciting to see newer developments in the technology and the media transacts. We have seen the evolution from the publisher directly to programmatic, social media frenzy, third party cookies, companies owning DMPs and I’m truly excited to see and learn what next in digital transformation.
IAS: Tell us more about the key industry developments that you are excited about?
Arush: I’m excited about the newfound ability for companies as large as Nestlé to get a solid understanding and input into programmatic media buying. P&G had an interesting take on this. Big companies could leverage scale and buying cheaper as compared to other smaller companies. But the industry saw the younger companies could target with so much more precision and still achieve effectiveness. Nowadays we are in a world of programmatic and moving it in-house, which is rare earlier as these capabilities remained with the agencies. We are at a stage where we are deciding our own data strategies and forming data strategies and driving our own opinions on customer segments. This is really interesting and it’ll be a year of data and audiences, our first-party data, our audiences executed through our DMPs this is quite a shift.
As far as in-housing go, there’s no perfect formula. We need internal and external experts who understand these complex topics are able to fact check and a hybrid approach is important for making sound decisions, we at Nestlé are moving towards a hybrid approach too. Five years ago companies didn’t necessarily have a team dedicated to different digital skills, they probably had one head of digital lead to work with agencies, but now companies have a data scientist, audience framework teams, analytics teams, website capabilities team, etc. We will see more companies hire programmatic specialists, from agencies or ad tech companies such as IAS, and build stronger capabilities to land on having opinions on 1st party data on the media campaigns. Digital is becoming more democratised and we will rely less on media partners for strategy and it will be internal and to keep is honest we’ll need external partner inputs. Nestlé having a DMP is indicative of a shift in favour of in-housing on strategic functions and it was unthinkable five years ago.
IAS: What is your opinion on the focus in Brand Safety and now, Brand suitability?
Arush: Let’s talk about a world before brand safety- there was no way to understand, track, or have the accountability with 100% certainty of what was unsafe digital content. Brand safety affords protection, but it’s a little bit of a hammer. Brand suitability is a logical evolution, it’s about having more precision on where ads should appear so as not to lose out on opportunities where it makes sense for brands to appear and connect with the consumers. Eg. Unilever has a trusted network of publishers and it’s a good way to create a brand-suitable environment to work with really close partners. Social media with user-generated content presents a different challenge and it’ll be interesting to see if we’ll reach a place in the next five years where brands can trust digital like TV for brand safety. The digital medium will do well to create more automation and transparency.
IAS: What are the key initiative pertaining to digital media quality is Nestlé prioritising now?
Arush: For Indonesia we are starting the digital journey, we are managing our digital hygiene and we want to see this year Indonesia mastering viewability as it’s still not ingrained and a go-to for measurement. We want to make sure that our ads are first and foremost viewable and being viewed by humans and then lean into the brand safety. Brand safety is non-negotiable for us and an area of huge priority and if we couple viewability and brand safety as our key focus and get it right, it’s a huge win for us in Indonesia.
Once we’ve got the basics in place, we’re looking to go beyond and move to brand suitability as targeting as it’s based on data signals, interests, and demographics in a GDPR evolving world, and once we have the basics in place, positioning, and targeting will closely follow.
IAS: With changing consumer behaviours, how is Nestlé reaching out to the consumers?
Arush: Different markets move at different speeds and our communications are adapted as per the behaviours of our consumers. Indonesian consumers are distinct and it’s a mobile-first country, with the second-largest number of Instagram stories in the world, one of the largest amounts of time spent on mobile in ASEAN. While TV is important and used in reaching households, you cannot just do TV and call it a day. You need to have integrated campaigns, take into account second screening, take into account search from your TV ads onto your digital assets, and when people interact with digital assess it’s not a digital version of TV ads but unique creatives for mobile. Our assets are always customised to the mediums it runs on and keeps the consumer interactions and behaviours at the center of these creatives. We cannot win hearts and minds with TV ads on FB and we use strong insights in building communication strategies and channels for our unique and ever-evolving consumers.
IAS: Tell us more on what do you like to do in your free time?
Arush: The real question is how much free time do I have? When I do scope out some time for myself, it’s spent online. The digital world is my passion and I like to enjoy Netflix, which is programmatic entertainment, serving up the right content at the right time! When not online, I enjoy exploring Indonesia and learning about the local culture, flavors and it’s when I get to explore the islands, indulge in my most favorite hobby- photography.
IAS: What’s your advice for fresh talent entering the industry
Arush: Get your hands dirty. You must learn what’s, how’s and why’s of the digital ecosystem.
When I started off I went through the entire scope of the search, websites, programmatic, social, etc and got my hands dirty in learning the nuts and bolts of building and running campaigns across channels. Stay curious and learn how a DMP, SSP and more works for eg, what are those processes, and how does it get brought to life. I remember taking my own credit card and getting onto Facebook to create campaigns. Nothing beats a hands-on approach. Strategy related knowledge comes with time but it’s key to learn the landscape and the inner workings of the digital ecosystem. Doctors attend medical seminars to keep updated on newer breakthroughs and learn more, similarly, a digital practitioner must keep up with the evolution of digital and keep committed to learning and they must learn by doing. The theory is great but practical is priceless.