Digital advertising in Asia is growing, and fast!

Digital advertising in Asia is growing, and fast!

Why should we care about the digital advertising market in Asia?

According to the latest Strategy Analytics report, this year the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) is likely to overtake North America as the biggest digital advertising market worldwide. Predictions range between an 18%-20% increase in digital ad spending, which would bring its total spend for 2016 up into the region of $70-$80 billion.

This is a staggering figure and one we shouldn’t overlook. Perhaps unsurprisingly, China is firmly in the front seat of this drive in digital ad spending. This year, 44% of total digital ad spend worldwide will come from the U.S and China alone. But China isn’t an oddity, with the likes of Japan, Thailand, India and Indonesia, the region boasts half of the world’s top six countries in digital ad spending.

Digital ad spend by region - Asia, America, Europe, Africa

What is unique and desirable about the Asia-Pacific digital market?


The majority of people in APAC interact and engage with the digital world through their smartphones. In China, uniquely, users often even favour apps over the mobile web. Understandably, many APAC countries have become critical markets for mobile app and gaming companies. Leading in-app advertising company, Vungle, saw ad revenues soar up 400% in China from 2015.

Efficient broadband

Mature markets such as Singapore have well-developed broadband networks, providing a large internet-connected audience. WeAreSocial reported that an impressive 82% of the city-state was connected to the web. The availability and size of the audience in many countries in APAC are attractive, and there’s plenty of room to grow. Currently, spending per person in APAC is around $15, compared with $165 in the US and $95 in Western Europe.

Untapped technology

Pokémon Go has highlighted the potential of location-aware apps and geo-targeting. This week, breaking away from its traditional mould, Japan has become the first country to include in-app brand sponsored locations with McDonald’s Japan.

What are some of the challenges of the Asia-Pacific market?

Unique market

Just because it works in the West, doesn’t mean it will work in APAC. Whilst foreign companies can bring a lot of value to the region and act as a bridge between China and the rest of the world, it’s essential to tailor tactics to the region. Vungle’s success in China is largely due to their commitment to understanding the local market. By hiring Chinese-speaking employees and sending them into the field, they’ve localized everything from sales, engineering to account management.


The Chinese firewall not only screens and blocks websites, but also slows down almost every international ad call. Moving forward, companies would benefit from investing in localizing their servers.

Anti-Fraud and ad-blocking

Anti-piracy efforts and viewability standards abroad are yet to catch up with the U.S. and Western Europe. In addition, many APAC consumers in countries such as China are mobile-savvy and aware of the latest ad blocking technology. According to a study by PageFair, 36% of smartphone users in APAC countries have ad blockers installed.

To recap, the potential of programmatic video in Asia-Pacific is huge. Foreign companies should not be discouraged by the regional challenges; APAC offers a unique market that’s only just taking off.

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Coull Quickie – May 2016

The Coull Quickie for May is here and it’s not good news for publishers as 3 Mobile UK sets to trial Shine’s ad blocking tech at network level. The IAB US reveals some interesting stats around new viewing habits, AppNexus launches free viewabiltiy measurement for its partners and the Guardian launches their own native mobile ad formats. Get all the latest programmatic video advertising news right here, every month.

Watch the Coull Quickie – May 2016 right here, right now:

Posted by simonholliday in Coull video

Coull Quickie – April 2016

In this latest Coull Quickie, Elise reports on linear television and programmatic video ad tech coming together, Facebook officially burying LiveRail, Snapchat increasing the price of its inventory due to the interactive vertical video ad format and the good news for programmatic in the UK. Find out why in this short, but sweet, Coull Quickie.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull video

The Mobile Series – Coull are interviewed by PubNative

To kick-start our series on mobile video advertising, we were interviewed by native mobile advertising SSP PubNative. Michelle talks about the current mobile landscape and its opportunities. She also addresses industry issues and where Coull fits into the future of mobile video advertising. In our follow up, you’ll learn all about native mobile advertising from PubNative themselves.

Thanks to the team at PubNative for this story.

PubNative and Coull - mobile advertising










Following Native Insights #4 in which we spoke to digital marketers Cyberclick, this time we are tackling the video ad space with Michelle Bommer from Coull.

The British company are a video ad platform for advertisers and media companies. For more info on video, you can also read our guide on what you need to know about native video on mobile.

Can you introduce Coull and what you do?

We’re a young, talented team building the next generation video advertising platform. We work with publishers to classify, filter and monetize their video inventory. Advertisers work with us for a direct route to our unique video inventory, used for engaging ad campaigns.

We have some awesome, unique propositions. Such as, our exclusive in-video overlay ad format which is really powerful, especially when combined with our pre-roll. This gives advertisers the opportunity for deeper engagement, brand uplift and audience data.

The really exciting thing about Coull right now is that we are cleaning up the programmatic marketplace. By being more transparent, it’s becoming a safer, more efficient and profitable digital ecosystem. We’re building a sustainable digital exchange from within our own technology stack.

We’re redefining what ‘quality’ inventory is. For our partners, quality means being able to buy video inventory that’s brand safe, viewable and human. We also provide RTB feedback and have a dedicated team to optimize campaigns.

How much of a difference is there between desktop and mobile video advertising?

There’s a big difference between the way audiences interact with video content depending on device. Metrics like Click-Through Rate (CTR) don’t work the same way on desktop and mobile. Also, audience behaviour across those interfaces is very different. For example, View-Through Rate would be more suitable for a mobile video ad campaign, because the video takes up most of the screen. However, on desktop, the video may only take up a portion of the screen, therefore, they’re competing for attention.

The big difference we’re seeing is that mobile is where desktop was 1 or 2 years ago. Programmatically it’s exploding, but in terms of measurement optimization, the industry isn’t there yet. There’s a lot of work to be done, but the potential for massive growth is undeniable. In terms of mobile’s capacity in programmatic – 2016 is the year of mobile!

What kind of demand are you seeing across the three formats of desktop, mobile and in-app for video ads? And how do you expect this to change?

Our network receives around 54 bn ad requests a month and it’s growing rapidly, mainly due to mobile. OverStream, our unique ad format combines pre-roll with branded in-video overlay in many devices, so we’re seeing demand across the spectrum.

The issue at the moment is that the majority of publishers still have VAST. It’s not until they adopt VPAID inventory that the scale is going to grow immensely.

For publishers, it’s a matter of investing in development work to make their content VAST compatible. Then once this investment is made, they’ll see a huge increase in CPMs. Mobile traffic is much easier and more effective to monetize.

How have you seen the mobile video landscape developing in recent years?

Mobile video used to be a big unknown for advertisers. They wanted to be in it but saw it as a black hole of spending without metrics. Now supply partners, such as ourselves, have provided support for brand and verification vendors. This allows advertisers to work out their campaign costs and buy with confidence.

In which circumstances do you think mobile video advertising is best suited?

Mobile video is another form of publisher inventory and it’s incredibly popular with audiences, especially millennials. There are plenty of statistics that show the massive growth and popularity in video. It’s only natural that advertising spend should shift with that trajectory.

According to a study from IAB last year, video is on the rise with 35% of respondents viewing content on mobile devices. Consumption was even higher in countries such as the US (50%), Canada (42%) and the UK (40%).

Video is the new storytelling medium. The only way mobile advertising wouldn’t be suited is if the inventory wasn’t brand safe, or was coming from a fraudulent source. That’s why, at Coull, we’re hot on transparency. Our dedicated compliance team detect viewability and fraud to ensure our inventory is brand safe. We believe publishers deserve to be paid for content and advertisers should buy quality inventory, so that’s what we facilitate with our platform.

We’re seeing fantastic performance in-app but, suitability wise, both in-app and mobile web have the potential to take video to that next level. It’s not a matter of mobile advertising not being suitable, it’s a matter of ensuring the format doesn’t disrupt the content. And that’s where we will see big changes in the coming months, with the development of new and engaging ad formats.

What kind of metrics are available for measuring user engagement with videos? What are the main mobile video KPIs?

Being able to measure engagement and campaign ROI requires data. There’s a reason data scientists are in high demand. It’s no longer acceptable to use the same metrics for standard digital and video advertising or to assume a floor price. The inventory is different and the user engages with it very differently. We now have metrics for mobile video such as View-Through Rate (VTR). VTR is much more indicative that CTR because it can report whether the content was watched all the way through, not just if it was clicked on.

It’s also important for advertisers to choose whether they buy click-to-play inventory. This inventory type gives a much better chance to measure engagement and viewability.

What kind of role is data playing in mobile video advertising?

Data enables advertisers to buy with confidence – confidence in user-targeting, category segmentation, and ensuring a brand safe and fraud-free environment.

When we’re talking specifically about mobile, there’s location data which can enable better targeting. But whilst it’s great that data is playing a big part in improving programmatic, we need to keep a high standard of this data. We need to ensure transparency and only collect non-identifiable data.

How do you expect the mobile video space to develop in the next few years?

Mobile video is only going to get more and more popular with people consuming video on the move, and while interacting with ‘omniscreens’. You no longer watch the TV without a second screen close at hand. So we expect to see full-length TV commercials purposed for mobile and more engaging formats to enter the space as the industry gets more creative in competing with ad blockers.

Ad fraud, transparency, viewability and brand safety, the big buzzwords in desktop advertising now will quickly need to be addressed on mobile as well. Native advertising will be one area that grows rapidly because, as a format, it’s already ahead of the game in regards to these issues.

Michelle Bommer from Coull

Michelle, Coull's Head of Adops








Michelle Bommer leads the Coull Ad Ops team from beautiful San Francisco, California. She delivers in-video overlay and pre-roll advertising campaigns across mobile and desktop inventory. She’s been an integral part of Coull’s growth due to her knowledge and experience with programmatic campaigns, yield optimization, and account management. She heads up a talented team of people who deliver the benefits of Coull’s proprietary tech.

Read the follow-up interview with PubNative here.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull news

Coull Quickie – March 2016

In this month’s Coull Quickie we look back at the biggest video ad news from the month of March. Join Elise for this quick rundown of programmatic video industry stories including Facebook’s new video ads within Instant articles, Tube Mogul hits out at Google with it’s ‘Independence Matters’ campaign and the CMA cracks down on the labelling of advertising within editorial. All these stories and more in this month’s quickie.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull video

Coull Quickie – February 2016

In the Coull Quickie for February, Elise looks at the recent MWC, talks about Google AMP and Tube Mogul’s decision to refund advertisers for fraudulent ad impressions. All this and more programmatic video advertising news from February.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull video
Our impressions of the IAB OpenRTB 2.4

Our impressions of the IAB OpenRTB 2.4

The IAB’s Advertising Technology Council has recently upgraded the OpenRTB guidelines to version OpenRTB 2.4. We’ll be highlighting some of the positive updates as well as recommending areas we expect to see improvement in version 2.5.

1.    Impression expiry

Open RTB 2.4 goes some way to improving fraudulent impressions caused by ‘Xindi-style’ bot networks. Last year, Pixelate identified how these bots work by subverting frequency caps targeting a highly desired user base. The botnet works when malware infected machines make massive amounts of ad requests within a short space of time, holding on to them without showing them. Those requests are stored for a few hours or even a day, then impression trackers call them simultaneously. This causes them all to fire at the same time, evading fraud filters and making huge amounts of money on false impressions.

OpenRTB 2.4 review - Xindi style bot networks


Xindi targetted corporate environments or even universities, allowing it to generate fake viewable impressions from recognised IP addresses at scale. The diagram below shows how this process works.


Xindi bot network - OpenRTB 2.4 review

Source: Pixelate

One of the OpenRTB 2.4 updates involves expiring the impression tracker which will stop the botnet being rewarded. The table below shows new impression expiry times guidelines for video ad impressions. Guidelines will be implemented as part of our video ad tech platform and third generation exchange.

“The following expiration times are offered as examples of reasonable delays based on the nature of the impression. These are only provided as rules of thumb. A more data-driven method of determining these times in specific situations is highly recommended. “ (IAB)

For display or video ad formats:

Desktop and mobile web browsers:1 Minute
Mobile app banner or native ads that may be cached:5 Minutes
Mobile and video interstitials:30 Minutes (or even longer)
Audio or video with server-side stitching:Very long or unknown

2.      SSL support – encoding

In version 2.3, SSL was not recommended: “due to the additional processing overhead.” The fact is, hardware has become so cheap that this argument hasn’t been valid for a long time. So, from our perspective, it’s great to see it’s finally recommended.

Legacy exchanges and DSPs may drag their feet when it comes to securing web traffic but the whole industry should embrace this. We’re certainly ensuring our own processes incorporate stringent security. Reflected in current practices, we have an ad tech ecosystem that’s essentially self-policed and DSPs aren’t making targeting segments from bid requests etc. ‘Bad actors’ from outside the industry aren’t bound by that, and can get a view on the browsing history or millions of people if they hack the bid request stream (think Snowden).

Securing web traffic is the zeitgeist as anyone working in tech knows and we’re very happy to finally see an expectation of encryption across OpenRTB 2.4. Securing web traffic guarantees the connection and what comes through, making the entire process much more secure and transparent. In our opinion, this one is a no-brainer!

3.    Video skip ability support

OpenRTB 2.4 allows publishers to declare if they want to impose a skip button on the ad, something that they’ve previously had very little control over. However, there’s no clear definition as to who is responsible for creating it – the publisher in their player? Or the advertiser in VPAID? The advice at this stage is for the DSP to consult the publisher. So whilst this is a good addition, it would benefit from further clarification.

4.    Location support

Accurate location data is a big demand of advertisers, especially in mobile. The problem is, not much mobile location data is actually valid. The device may know it’s only accurate to 10 or even 500 meters. But the exchange it made the ad request to, couldn’t pass that on to its bidders. This has all changed with the latest update. The exchange can now pass on this location information with the “accuracy” value set in meters, along with a “lastfix” value to say how long ago that fixed.

Where location is looked up via IP address, exchanges can now declare the vendor they used as ip2location, Neustar, or Maxmind. Sorry DigitalElement, it looks like you’re not on the list! Perhaps that’s one for the IAB to address once public comments have been considered.

5.    Audio object

The addition of the audio object enables live audio streams, like podcasts or services such as Spotify to request ads from bidders with the OpenRTB standard. This update assumes DAAST standard compliance, with companion banners as an option just like video. The audio object/ad can be stitched into the playback, and even downloaded by the user.

Look for more legacy ad exchanges to jump on this as a new way to differentiate themselves.

Other OpenRTB 2.4 updates worth a mention

Other OpenRTB 2.4 updates include the ability to format the size of banner ads, additional creative attributes for Adobe Flash and best practice guidelines for DSPs responding with deal ID. They’re all valid updates but don’t add a huge amount to the innovation of the space.

What Coull expect in OpenRTB 2.5

As a market-leading third generation video ad exchange and platform, we operate with multiple DSP’s and push demand through our SSP and supply partners. So it’s very important to constantly update and upgrade our proprietary technology. We’ve made a conscious choice to ensure we operate and implement above and beyond the industry standard. If we can do something better now, we do it. We’re not waiting to be told and we don’t believe the guidelines should wait either.

Here are some of the updates we feel could have been implemented in OpenRTB 2.4. Updates that we expect to see in 2.5, hopefully, sooner rather than later.

HTTP2 and Advertising

The current OpenRTB 2.4 spec doesn’t take HTTP2 into account, it assumes HTTP1 as the standard. We believe there are a few parts of the new HTTP2 spec that are exciting from an advertising point of view.

Currently, HTTP1 only allows for a single conversation to go on between 2 computers. But if there are to be more conversations then more connections are needed. HTTP2 allows a single connection to have multiple conversations with no specific order in them.

HTTP2 is also a binary protocol, meaning it’s more aligned to how a computer speaks than a human. It’s evident that the overall efficiency of a connection and the data sent over it is far better. This is obviously quite relevant in exchange to DSP connections.

Security in HTTP2 was also thought about from the beginning with the downsides of secure connections in HTTP1 considered. Secure connections in HTTP2 can easily send both secure headers and body while being compressed effectively saving bandwidth.

Another subtle change that has an advantage in exchange to DSP connections is the ability to cancel a request without dropping a connection. In theory, this saves computation power should an exchange make a decision – maybe securing a PMP deal before a DSP has decided on a bid.

These all add up to some good increases in efficiency of connections, both in-between clients and ad servers, as well as exchanges and DSPs. Though both parties in all examples need to be able to handle the HTTP2 connections.

Our third generation exchange has already implemented some of these changes and is well underway to go even further. The whole industry should be guided in this direction. These improvements make programmatic advertising safer, more reliable and more efficient for everyone.

Loss Notification

To ensure the most efficient means of bidding and yield optimization we have loss notification built into our exchange. It’s something that could easily be included as a standard within OpenRTB and would expect to this appearing in 2.5. Within the Coull exchange, we inform bid loss notification in real-time without revealing the identity of bid winners. This means advertisers and DSPs can better optimize their campaigns. Not only does loss notification help streamline yield optimization, but it aids in stopping ad fraud such as that mentioned above. By letting the bidder know they’ve lost the auction, they can finish it without worrying about a future impression. It just makes sense. Which is exactly why we’ve already applied this technology within our own platform.

Do your part and get your feedback to Melissa at the IAB before the 19th of Feb.

The latest spec can be found here.

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Coull Quickie January 2016

In January’s Coull Quickie Elise looks back over the month of video ad news including the IAB’s updated OpenRTB guidelines, Spotify’s video content, Instagram and Twitter’s emphasis on video and Sky Media’s investment in DataXu.

Posted by simonholliday in Coull video