SARA YE: Amnet is a media technology trading desk, created in response to the technology revolution in digital media buying. It’s focused on programmatic buying and also real-time bidding type of inventories. iProspect, on the other hand, is a more performance-driven company. Right now, our main products in China are SEM, paid search and SEO.
I’m also planning to build an iProspect Knowledge Lab, which will work with the major search engines such as Google, Baidu and 360, to help enhance the learnings and insights for this area for our clients and bring additional value.
As for how they work together, right now, performance marketing is a very important area of growth for our commission-driven customers, but also for large branding clients, like P&G. What we need to do is bring the two platforms together. For example, the data and insights we get from search and performance marketing can be tied to the Amnet inventory, so that we can use that data to retarget consumers through the Amnet inventory pool, and we can get the best business outcome for our clients.
How are iProspect and Amnet China growing right now? What is your headcount there and where are the offices?
iProspect has two offices in Shanghai and Beijing, where I am based. We’re at 30 people at iProspect. Since our goal this year is to focus on the team, we are expecting to extend our size to a larger number. From 30 people to, I expect, at least 50 people, to grow the business and to build the capability. And actually, right now, we have seven new staff coming in by the end of April.
At Amnet China, like most of the ad trading desks in the market, we are still quite new. The business launched late last year, so we have fewer than 10 people on the team. But again, because this is a fast-growing, area, we expect the staff size to be increased this year.
What are your goals over the next year or so? What do you want to bring to this position?
The goal is very clear. My first year goal is to build up a very strong team and also develop strong product capabilities.
Right now, iProspect in China still has room to grow. As you know, iProspect in the United States is a very strong brand name. My goal for this year is to build the China team to that level. In terms of product, right now the product offering in China is also quite limited, so the goal is to build the product and the capabilities once the team is in place.
Anmet and iPropsect’s major focus this year is to build the product capability. We have a very clear product roadmap for 2014 and in this road map, both video programmatic buying and mobile programmatic are a focus.
Once we have the team and product capabilities in place, we can focus on business growth and portfolio extension and the revenue of the company. That will be next year’s goal.
What are some of the challenges in China right now with the programmatic buying and RTB space?
There are a couple areas that I think make it very challenging for the trading desks. No. 1 is the lack of education. Education has been done by most of the trading desks to their clients, but again, because it’s still so new, a lot of education needs to be done to the clients and the market and industry overall.
Secondly, we are seeing a lot of media trying to form their own ad exchanges, which is a very positive sign for the market, but meanwhile these media companies in China, they don’t allow third-party ad serving or tracking. So a lot of these networks and exchanges are not as transparent as in the States. The whole media ecosystem is more closed than in the States. It would be great if we could see more premium inventories released by the media to join the ad exchanges. That’s another challenge we see in this market.
Ad tech companies in China often work to incorporate more offerings into their business, such as combining DSP, DMP, SSP. Is that consolidation helping or hurting the programmatic space?
It depends on the role of the company; it really depends on their strategy. But for us, we want to have our own strengths and we want to be focused. The goal is to work with the best tech products in the market and we want to maintain that type of approach so that we can deliver the best solution for our clients. We will not explore any other areas like SSPs because we want to play our own role and play it to the best quality.