In this exclusive “Masters of Media” series, Integral Ad Science (IAS) speaks to the Movers and Shakers of the APAC advertising industry on all digital matters.
Brian Gabriel del Val is the Programmatic Activation Lead of Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) at HP. A marketer by training and a digital advertiser in execution, Brian has worked across different parts of the advertising ecosystem with experiences in a brand, media agency, creative agency, and ad tech vendor. At HP, his responsibilities include programmatic success across the APJ region and being the digital lead across a few key markets and business units across commercial and consumer.
IAS: Please tell us about your digital advertising/ marketing journey and your current role at HP
Brian: I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced the different parts of the advertising ecosystem from being a part of a media agency, creative agency, ad tech partner, and a brand. I started my career with IPG’s Cadreon Philippines, building and executing their programmatic strategies. Then set off to a creative agency as the media person with DDB PH to help build the in-house buying agency responsible for the DDB PH group. Then I moved to Singapore to work with a DSP called dataxu, planning and buying on programmatic campaigns at a regional level.
Now I’m with HP, as Programmatic Activation Lead for HP’s in-house buying team called Ziji. My responsibilities include programmatic success across the APJ region and being the digital lead across key markets and business units from consumer to commercial.
In the last 2 years, we’ve built an in-house team of media planning and buying professionals taking care of HP’s media buys across Asia.
IAS: When it comes to prioritising their digital advertising campaigns, what advice would you like to give marketers?
Brian: A clear KPI, as media teams we often get asked to try to solve multiple problems at the same time. Pressure is felt when the majority of our marketing dollars get spent on advertising and it can set an unrealistic expectation of what’s possible.
A clear KPI – for me means, understanding what the north star is for the business. Picking one with everyone’s agreement, helps us prioritise the type of media we plan, buy, and optimise towards. Media maximises efficiency with the different buying systems since our advertising algorithms like to focus on one main goal. We should be still tracking everything else and have secondary KPIs when we report but a clear KPI can help set the tone whether a campaign is successful or not.
IAS: According to you, what are some key trends, in digital advertising, that marketers should capitalise on in 2023?
Brian: Creators as a medium – Influencers have really taken on the main stage with many publishers actively trying to crack the code on how to efficiently partner and advertise with creators through media.
Short and Vertical – Short-form video content as the main creative is here to stay. With the big walled gardens all getting into the action with TikTok leading the charge, Youtube Shorts, Meta Reels, and stories, and Snapchat Stories. Now, Netflix too has a version of short-form content called Fast Laughs.
Inventory as a proxy for audience targeting – This is nothing new but is gaining popularity again with contextual segments and the death of the cookie. We used to do this as an industry which we will go back to, buying in contextually relevant places where our target audience spends their time instead of over-complicated audience targeting.
Quality Metrics 2.0 – Attention metrics and brand suitability are the new metrics being talked about but at the same time keeping current quality metrics like viewability, brand safety, and ad fraud at a high standard.
Continuous Partner transparency – Whether it’s the rise of OTT, retail media capabilities, or ID alternatives for cookies, we should keep asking deeper questions to our media partners instead of taking everything at face value. This helps our media partners be more accountable for what we purchase on behalf of our brands.
IAS: How do you see digital advertising/ marketing evolve in the next couple of years?
Brian: It can only grow further, as more players enter the market from ad tech players to Publishers, there is always something new to try and some different creative way to reach the right customers. We’ll have to plan further with walled gardens, as many more enter the market our consumers will also have behaviour shifts on where they spend their time and money.
IAS: In your opinion, what measures can the advertising industry take to combat the trust and transparency challenges in the digital supply chain?
Brian: There is this amazing piece of work done by ISBA and PWC on the programmatic supply chain transparency in the UK, where they questioned the state of the digital supply chain by deep diving into each of the players in the industry. There is no silver bullet for these issues but a combination of many moving parts that make the right decision to combat trust and transparency together are outlined in this study. I highly recommend this body of work. The study walks through how each of the players can do their part in building trust and transparency.
From an individual level, understanding what we do not know and exercising the right to ask questions to our partners is where we begin. Measurement is the next step and the key to deciphering what we do and how well we do it. Only when we know the issues and keep track of it, we are equipped with enough knowledge to develop a plan of action. In the words of Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
IAS: Any advice for leaders on talent retention and supporting/ encouraging diversity at workplaces?
Brian: Media buying is stressful when it comes to day-to-day work, there is no doubt about that. One of the best ways for us to encourage growth since starting Ziji has been the creation of our Ziji Practice Champions.
We ask our team members what they’re interested in their role or in the industry. We then build paths together to help the individual own the practice by being the expert within our team. Helping our team stay engaged by trying to develop a personal POV or solving a difficult problem. The Practice Champion has been beneficial for individual growth and keeps the team up to date on the latest development in the industry.
IAS: What’s your favourite book/podcast/movie and why?
Brian: My favourite movie is Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, cause if you ain’t first, you’re last.
IAS: What is your advice to the fresh talent in the industry?
Brian: Google everything you don’t know and ask why. There is so much information out there that’s accessible to those who know what to look for whether it is media planning fundamentals, what is java script tag, or how to successfully spend VAST Creative on a PG deal while maintaining a certain viewability. There is a wealth of information online available to everyone like this article, platform learning tools, or even r/adops on Reddit.