Over the past two weeks, three ad technology companies -- AdRoll, AppNexus, and RadiumOne -- have opened offices in Australia.
The region has been of growing interest in recent months, but three companies making a serious investment within two weeks of each other caught my attention. So I reached out to the three companies to find out why. What type of growth were these three companies seeing in Australia to justify the opening of an office there? How long has this been on their radar, and why is it all happening now?
I spoke with Adam Berke, president, AdRoll; Dave Osborn, VP of sales, Asia-Pacific, AppNexus; and Eric Bader, CMO, RadiumOne.
RTM Daily: Why open an office in Australia? What has your growth been like in the
country, and what has the growth of the ad technology market been like?
Berke: We've seen 500% growth in Australian advertisers in the past 12 months. We have around 500 advertisers, 72 of which we added as early as last November. We've also had 565% growth in advertisers in APAC in past 12 months. We have around 700 total, 120 which we added in the last quarter. Australia is currently AdRoll’s fourth-largest country in terms of revenue.
It’s a very savvy media market, and their number one request is local time zone support. Few ad tech companies have made the investment of a full-stack team here, so we thought there was an opportunity to stand out in this market.
Osborn: The Australian opportunity is extremely compelling to AppNexus. There’s a handful or two of publishers and agencies that really define the advertising space here. They're all well established, sophisticated, aggressive, and committed to continued innovation, and that innovation extends to programmatic trading of media.
The numbers support our investment as well. IDC predicted that RTB spending would reach $74 million in 2013, an increase of 105% from 2012 and eMarketer expects that figure to nearly double this year to $131.7 million. We see the same type of growth: on our own platform, the number of real-time impressions sold has more than doubled in the last year.
Bader: RadiumOne’s research into Australia showed us that Australian marketers have a real desire for three important things:
1. to utilize programmatic for upper-funnel prospecting versus only DR conversion
2. to act on their own data in real-time without needing to align with multiple tech vendors (DMP’s/DSP/s etc)
3. the sports and entertainment industries in
Australia are appreciating the value of their social assets and new role as publishers.
RTMD: How long has opening an office in Australia been a plan?
Berke: We did a scouting trip to Australia in September of last year, and solidified Sydney as an office location as part of our strategic planning process in Q4.
Osborn: We knew early in 2013 that we’d be making a significant investment in the market. We’ve actually had people on the ground here in Australia for 9 months -- an “advance team” of implementation services leaders, so to speak, who helped ramp up some of our larger partners in the region.
Bader: For a bit less than a year. We watched the market and recognized where we could dominate. We luckily had access to the best leaders in the business and got them to join us.
RTMD: I know you can’t speak for the other companies that just opened offices in the area, but why do you think this is happening now, as opposed to three months ago or six months ago? Or even three or six months from now?
Berke: International expansion became a focus for us starting at the beginning of 2013. There was a lot of work that went into this to make sure we could service international customers properly before opening our first international offices. We didn’t want to put feet on the street until we were sure we could exceed their expectations the same way we do in the U.S. We had to build the infrastructure to translate the Web site and interface, support international currencies, provide local language support, etc. Once these building blocks were in place, we began the process of opening physical locations -- the first of which was Dublin, which we launched in October of 2013, and now Sydney.
Osborn: I don’t think there’s anything magic about the timing. I think a more interesting question is how the Australian market will support the number
of players that are coming in. From an ecosystem perspective, most of these companies connect in some meaningful way to AppNexus, so it’s great for our clients and partners on the one hand.
On the other hand, it can be confusing for clients to try to understand what differentiates "new company A" from "new company B," and confusion can actually slow down the pace of growth.
Bader: Mainly because substantial money has shifted to digital channels, which revealed the acute need for programmatic ad-buying. When the spending got to the point where there was so much at stake, it popped.
RTMD: I’m sure it’s not a surprise to you that other companies are entering the market at the same time as you, but what is your reaction to hearing that? Does it boost your confidence a bit, knowing that other companies see the same opportunity as you?
Berke: It doesn’t hurt to see your thinking validated by others in the space, but as you said, it’s not much of a surprise either.
Osborn: There is so much happening in this industry globally that you could spend all day watching other companies, trying to interpret their activity. There’s a time and a place for analyzing the ecosystem. However, we we stay focused on our own mission. And, particularly as a leadership team...we invest a great deal in strategic planning, meaning we have to tune out the noise.
Bader: It's not surprising that other smart companies are jumping in. We welcome them -- they validate the programmatic approach. At the same time, though, we stick to our own game.
RTMD: Do you know of other companies that are thinking of entering Australia? Maybe competitors of yours, clients, or even just acquaintances from the industry?
Berke: Australia actually has a number of successful tech companies that were either founded here or were founded by Australians -- companies like Atlassian, BigCommerce, and Nitro. I’m sure there are quite a few U.S. companies waiting to see how we fare before they make their decision to set up shop here or not.
Osborn: In the last week, I’ve received a number of inquiries from companies who are either trying to expand to APAC, or Australia in particular, and are interested in partnering.
Bader: No, we're not aware of the plans of other companies.