Dentsu Continues Programmatic Catch-up, Unveils Its Own Trading Desk

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Akio Niizawa, CCIYears after the major ad holding companies like Publicis, IPG, WPP, Havas and others created trading desks for accessing ad exchanges, Japan's largest advertising company, Dentsu, finally launched on Dec. 19 its own real-time bidding (RTB) platform, called Dentsu Audience Network. Read the release.

Dentsu has been active in developing a programmatic business since 2010, when it first joined OpenX's exchange through its interactive unit, cyber communications inc. (CCI). In addition, for the past year, Dentsu's CCI has used Rocket Fuel as its demand-side platform (DSP) and the company has said that programmatic now constitutes 10% of CCI’s billings. More recently, CCI began using Krux’s data-management platform (DMP).

It's unclear the extent to which Dentsu Audience Network will absorb or change those relationships over time. But CCI's president and CEO Akio Niizawa has noted before that, as Dentsu builds out its programmatic practice, it has deliberately added individual partners to build its exchange-based media-buying practice.

"We will aim to become the largest DSP player in Japan," Niizawa told AdExchanger in a translated email interview last month. "[The] programmatic buying and managed ad (DSP) market has grown dramatically in Japan. Based on Dentsu's news release on Japan's ad expenditure for FY 2012, the growth rate compared to 2011 was 118.9% and we expect similar growth for FY 2013 as well."

The decision to open up its own exchange, rather than rely on partner companies to supply its discrete programmatic needs, reflects how wide Dentsu's overall media operations have grown since July 2012, when it acquired UK holding company rival Aegis for $4.9. billion. That deal gave Dentsu Aegis' media agency Carat and its existing trading desk, Amnet.

Dentsu has hinted that the programmatic structures operating under CCI and Amnet will support the new trading desk. But the company is still feeling out the programmatic space, and ultimately, as the exchange-based buying methods become a bigger part of Dentsu's business, it's likely that this is just the first stage for a fuller consolidation of those various tools.

Representatives from Dentsu were unavailable to comment.

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