In this exclusive “Masters of Media” series, Integral Ad Science (IAS) speaks to the Movers and Shakers of the APAC advertising industry, on all matters digital.
Denise Tan is Head of Operational Excellence, APAC at Xaxis, where she leads a team of 10 within Xaxis APAC Regional Hub, committed to be the center of excellence for Operational Excellence.
IAS: Please tell us about your digital advertising journey and your current role at Xaxis.
Denise: Fresh out of University with a Marketing degree, I knew I only wanted to dabble in Digital Marketing. Fortunately, I landed myself in a local SME which was then Microsoft, Friendster, and Facebook Singapore Media Reseller. It was an amazing experience and I picked up all my Ad Operations skills. I then became a Publisher Account Manager for Yahoo! Ad Network; starting my journey into how exchanges work and monetising publishers’ inventory.
Post that I held a regional role at Sizmek as their Regional Account Manager and subsequently led Client Services in APAC. This role gave me immense insights across clients, agencies, and local market cultures and definitely shaped who I am today.
I currently head Operational Excellence for APAC at Xaxis which oversees Trading, Business Ops and Technical Ops. This is an exciting role as my team and I work hard to improve business processes & tools efficiencies; deliver Impact on campaigns delivery through trading, tagging expertise and application of Machine Learning. We also engage with all the traders in our region to upscale their trading expertise.
IAS: Given the evolving situation around the pandemic, what have been your key learnings around consumer behaviours in 2021?
Denise: The green awakening brought about by the pandemic helps to encourage support for local brands and to buy from brands that promote sustainable initiatives where possible. How can the local brands reduce any barriers for consumers to patronise their businesses – perhaps ensuring their shipping fees and delivery times have significant advantages?
Rise of Ecommerce advertising – more people are shopping online than ever before. The online experience is even more important today for shoppers to discover, research, and evaluate their options before making the transaction in the most seamless way possible. How can Advertisers capitalise on the growth and ensure they are well equipped on their online presence; to target precise audiences and subsequently harness the CRM data?
Consumers value their online privacy yet the benefits of data sharing enable better-targeted advertising. With Chrome blocking 3rd party cookies by 2023, brands need to pivot their campaign strategies to still reach the relevant audience and achieve their return on investment.
IAS: What are some of the initiatives Xaxis has undertaken to stay connected with its workforce and propagate for the wellness of its employees?
Denise: There are quite a few really – my favourite has got to be our Monthly Thrive Day where we are encouraged to take the time to develop ourselves and gain knowledge; made possible with no meetings scheduled. There are also Learning Calendars and wellness initiatives lined up every month. Within teams, we ensure the 1:1s with managers happen weekly, meet virtually to play games or just to have lunch together.
IAS: According to you what will enable CTV to become more mainstream for advertisers? What role will its measurement capabilities play to propel CTV advertising?
Denise: In APAC where most markets are still not running CTV in a mainstream way; good access to CTV inventory availability for a well scaled campaign, less inventory fragmentation of the ecosystem and better brand safety control will all have a positive impact on advertisers’ uptake. Fundamentally, what advertisers expect of their omni channels strategies (example – frequency management/ no ad collision/ need for attribution) will apply for CTV too.
Currently CTV is challenged in measurement. It comes from fragmentation of CTV and no common currency. And most players have their own proprietary methods of measuring – all this causes confusion and a lack of consistency
If measurement can be unified and it can measure brand impact – we’d be in a much better place. And if attribution can be ascertained then even better.
IAS: In your opinion is the industry doing enough to combat the trust and transparency challenges in the digital supply chain?
Denise: As the space constantly evolves, I think initiatives like Ads.txt / app-ads.txt / IAB Data Transparency standards are all good starts. Supply Path Optimisation (SPO) is also valuable for agency trading desks to negotiate deeper relationships with trusted suppliers to deliver value across the chain. There is always more work to be done around transparency and it is in the interest of the entire industry to support.
It’s also great to see industry bodies and organisations like IAB, and WFA doing so much in this space and advocating for this as well as establishing guidelines and standards.
IAS: With brands moving away from keywords and cookies to contextual targeting, how is Xaxis approaching this shift?
Denise: We are actively working with partners and new identity solutions to gain sustainable solutions for our clients. We will then embark on test and learn initiatives to trial more usage of contextual targeting for example; future-proofing our way for targeting strategies.
Right from the start, our AI technology, Copilot, has never been reliant on cookies and it’s actually going to be extremely sustainable for the cookieless future. Brands will have to embrace the adoption of AI as a key technology and tool to amplify contextual targeting among the other capabilities it brings to businesses.
IAS: What’s your favourite book/podcast/movie and why?
Denise: Robin Sharma, The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life.
While I can’t follow the 5 AM rule or at least not yet managed to, I started owning my mornings more and the uplifting effect for the day is indeed evident! Echoing this quote from the book, “Take excellent care of the front end of your day, and the rest of your day will pretty much take care of itself. Own your morning. Elevate your life.”
IAS: What is your advice to the fresh talent in the industry?
- Always challenge the status quo, do not settle with preset processes – why not create your own and make them work better for you?
- Your manager wants to see solutions and not problems, go one step further always and this goes a long way.
- Be bold and curious but remain humble
- Put in your best effort in whatever you do – you do good work, you earn your recognition.