Q&A: Curtis Nishijima, Amnet Global

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Q&A: Curtis Nishijima, Amnet Global

Curtis NishijimaCurtis Nishijima is Vice President of Global Commercial Development & Operations at Amnet Global (part of the Dentsu Aegis Network). He has been in digital media for over 20 years and has played instrumental roles in companies such as AltaVista, Yahoo and Amazon. His current role focuses on the global programmatic landscape by driving market innovation and client data strategy. We ask Curtis a few questions about the perceptions of programmatic advertising, from both an advertiser and publisher perspective, and where he sees the future of programmatic Rich Media (programmatic branding).

How do global advertisers (both agencies and brands) currently perceive programmatic advertising?

From a client perspective, I generally see three distinct camps around programmatic advertising:

Beginners: They are aware, but know very little and find it complicated. They are curious and are starting to ask questions and seeing opportunities.

Intermediates: They have started to test to see how it performs and how they can apply these learnings across their marketing channels.

Advanced: They are leading and applying programmatic advertising to all digital strategy.

From an agency perspective, we (trading desks and tech providers) were early to embrace programmatic advertising. We need to showcase the powers of programmatic and develop a cohesive eco-system for clients to use as a vehicle to success. 

Are they aware of the benefits it could bring their brand?

I think everyone is aware that programmatic drives benefits but maybe not on the same level. Some only care about pure performance, others about automation and efficiency, others value analytics and insights. Everyone knows that the application of data will provide some additional benefits in one way, shape or form.

What are the perceptual differences towards programmatic advertising between agencies and brands?

Because of the complexity and fast paced nature of the marketplace, a common misconception I hear (from both) is that they see programmatic as just "a cheaper way to deliver the same inventory.” The difference is, agencies are taking a more positive, pro-active approach by championing the benefits whereas as some brands have become increasingly distrustful of the industry because of the unfortunate circumstances that have arisen around the likes of ad fraud, viewability and brand safety.

Do you think there are barriers deterring advertisers in allocating budget to programmatic advertising?

Yes, and there are many valid reasons for these barriers including lack of education, complexity of language, understanding of data, the rise of ad fraud, brand safety issues, transparency etc. It is our duty to educate - if we don't, we have failed as an industry.

Currently, what role do Rich Media formats play in programmatic advertising? How do you see it evolving in the future?

Rich Media is creating synergies between brand vs. performance. Online users are increasingly particular about how they consume advertising; Rich Media allows us to be engaging in an unobtrusive manner and programmatic advertising means it is more relevant. 

It is empowering the “real-time” aspect of programmatic by enabling ad content to be more dynamically generated through data. It will continue to evolve as our canvas, in size, shape and appearance to deliver much more engaging experiences to user which, in turn, contributes towards desired marketing outcomes.

How does Adform fit into this?

Adform’s role two-fold. Firstly, you help us advance by developing more unique and innovative formats which can be delivered in premium and relevant environments at scale to achieve better results. Secondly, you enable us to leverage all signals of engagement, delivery and targeting to optimize performance across the entire digital marketing plan and provide the right attribution to each creative across the consumer journey, including Desktop, Mobile, Video, OOH, TV, Radio and more. 

How do publishers currently perceive programmatic advertising and its influence on revenue?

For this, I shall provide a few example quotes I’ve captured in meetings with publishers:

  • “We are a very premium site and I don’t want programmatic to cannibalise my direct or guaranteed sales channels so it’s unlikely we will be able to do much to you.”
  • “We are starting to make programmatic inventory available, largely through Private Marketplaces and in limited release on the Exchanges, however we are still examining what this means to our long term revenue objectives.”
  • “We are going fully programmatic and you can access in any way you prefer (ie. Guaranteed, Preferred Deals, PMPs, OpenExchanges) but we’ll never allow our data to be de-coupled from our media and you have to use our platform.”
  • “We’ve been fully programmatic for a few years and already starting to identify partners that have an appetite for our data as we look to de-couple it from our media and generate additional streams of revenue for our site which you can access from any SSP or DSP you wish.”

Do you think there are barriers deterring publishers from embracing programmatic advertising for their inventory? If so, what are they? 

I’m never convinced that a publisher fully understands their true yield potential and capacity for monetising data and inventory, especially when I see premium sites that won’t embrace programmatic yet allow their site to be littered with the exact same house ad page after page. A few of the barriers seem to be:

  • Ability to properly measure performance on their site and package media in meaningful ways
  • Driving programmatic scale and audience segmentation targeting
  • Rich media being embraced in the creative strategy and evangelism of dynamic creative optimisation with the creative studios and agencies
  • What do they do with their data and how do they protect it

What are the benefits of publishers enabling Rich Media formats on their sites?

By offering more programmatically enabled Rich Media formats on sites, publishers can command an appropriate premium and generate incremental revenue opportunities.

What excites you most about programmatic advertising, or digital advertising in general?

Constant innovation. Digital is still relatively young and programmatic even younger when compared to something like TV. However, we have an opportunity to be much more agile as we look to drive positive change in our industry. Our next generation of leaders will be born out of the digital age; they see and engage with the world in very different ways and that is exciting.

Where do you see digital advertising in ten years time?

Digital advertising will be all encompassing, more intelligent and become the standard way of how we engage with brands on a thoroughly considered and emotional level. 

Everything will be digitised, personalised and more advanced that we can imagine so it would be foolish to think we can understand possibilities that aren’t even born yet. Programmatic will be the default way to buy digital media. 

What annoys you most about programmatic advertising, or digital advertising in general?

Opportunists and corruption. Those trying to take advantage of a developing industry, lack of understanding or the use of scare tactics for short term gains. The fact that we are asking ourselves “where do we see digital advertising in 10 years’ time?” means we expect it to be around for a while so we really need to be mindful of the short term damage being caused now and the impact it has in a long term.

Describe the current digital advertising landscape in the UK in one word


What is the most exciting component of the digital advertising ecosystem? Why? 

The complex nature of the digital advertising ecosystem requires businesses to partner. We look to build our business with mutually beneficial providers with relationships that are built on trust, a shared desire to innovate, and a motivation to create opportunity for our clients.

What is a worrying component of the digital advertising ecosystem? Why? 

It is still fragile. The world is watching our every move and we are held so much more accountable than any other medium before… A few bad seeds can ruin an entire crop.

Big thanks to Curtis for taking the time to provide insightful answers to our questions. If you'd like to see the premium programmatic branding campaign we created and delivered (working closely with Amnet and Yahoo!) for luxury fashion brand Burberry, click here


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