Made Media joins the programmatic fray, trumpets local focus as a point of difference

The programmatic bus rolls on, with Magna Global predicting a 31 percent annualised growth rate through to 2017. And with Google’s latest consumer barometer showing Kiwis use an average of 2.7 devices each, a new Kiwi agency called Made Media—a collaboration between sales manager and partner Michael Buhagiar and Latch Digital—believes it’s found a gap in the market for a locally owned and operated demand side platform that brings those two elements together.

Buhagiar, who has over ten years of media sales experience, most recently with Yahoo New Zealand and Big Mobile, leads what its website calls “New Zealand’s first and only locally owned and operated DSP” and says it was created so that “brands can target smartphone, tablet or desktop users with content and have the engagement reported back to them quickly and clearly”.  

“It just made sense for us to do it. That’s where the market is heading … what we started with was looking at being mobile-specific, but we decided to add desktop into the mix.” 

He says it sits somewhere between Snakk Media and Big Mobile, with a creative team focusing on the executions to back up the environments. At present he says there are 11 in the office and Buhagiar is the only sales person at this time.

“The majority are coders and designers and the average age is 25. They’re a sharp young team and I am the old sales guy presenting the product,” he laughs. 

So what’s different about Made Media? Buhagiar says its unique selling point is that its local (along with Buhagiar and Latch Digital, the company also has some silent investors). He says Snakk Media, although it’s listed on the New Zealand Alternative stock exchange, is based in Sydney with a sales team in New Zealand; InMobi is based in India but has a sales team here; Big Mobile based in Sydney but its New Zealand campaign manager is based in Indonesia; and Acquire Online is 25 percent French owned. 

In the world of tech, location is not always that important. The fact that Google is based in Mountain View or Facebook is based in Menlo Park hasn’t stopped them from convincing New Zealand advertisers to use their services. Even so, he believes having a team on the ground in New Zealand is important, especially when clients are looking to react quickly in this space or require reports within minutes (it offers a self-service dashboard supplying real-time reporting). 

“We felt there was a real need for a genuine New Zealand company with localised operations delivering quality products and services,” he says. 

Larger media agencies like OMD and Spark already have their own self-service dashboards. But he says the difference is that they don’t necessarily have the creative resources Made has. 

According to Nielsen, 1.9 million New Zealanders now transact via the web and in the last year spent $3.8 billion online. And he says this year’s dramatic growth in the number of people shopping via a smartphone or a tablet illustrates how much Kiwis now want to shop ‘anytime, anyplace’. But it isn’t just about the transactions on mobile devices, it is about their role in the overall path to purchase. So, as time spent with mobile figures increase, more emphasis is being put on mobile as an advertising medium, although not as much as some would hope.

One of the difficulties with this area is fragmentation, with different ad sizes often required for different devices. He says cookie data is also not as good on mobile as it is on desktop, so the same user might be hit over and over again (it offers retargeting services so that brands can hit people over and over again on purpose). But he says it is looking at partnering with other data providers to get better individual user profiles, although nothing has been locked in yet. 

He says tablet ownership is increasing by 95 percent year on year in New Zealand. And the beauty of that, he says, is that the ad formats tend to be the same size as desktop. He says the big publishers like Fairfax and NZME are also selling 300 x 250 across mobile (at a premium). So it’s becoming easier to buy across different platforms and Made is hoping to make easier still (as an example of integrating different platforms, Snakk Media and Acquire Online have both recently announced the ability to synchronise TV ads with online and mobile ads). 

“But with the way technology changes so quickly we’re looking at reviewing ourselves pretty regularly,” he says. 

He says its dashboard is run through an API that was pre-built by Merchenta. It offers a white label DSP option, but it decided against using that, although it does use its real-time bidding tool and it has access to 24 global ad exchanges and close to one billion impressions. And, in a similar fashion to Acquire Online, he’s keen to build a New Zealand exchange for the more patriotic brands and media buyers out there (while most publishers are trying to protect yields by selling directly, many of them put unsold inventory into the ad networks at much lower rates). 

There are still some concerns around ad viewability, fraudulent traffic from bots and brands having their advertising end up on dodgy sites through network buys. But, as Buhagiar says: “We’re going to be as transparent as possible about where those ads feature.” 

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