Reflections on the Ashton Programmatic Media Summit 2018

Post on March 11, 2018 by Judith Engel

Judith Engel Senior Director, Product Management, APAC

The Ashton Media Programmatic Summit in Sydney has been going strong for four years and it continues to be the one event to not miss in the digital advertising industry. Dedicated to unveiling the latest programmatic trends observed by the movers and shakers on the buy- and publisher-side, it didn’t disappoint in 2018. In fact, the Summit even managed to reinvent itself with a slightly more mature flair and setting – in the recently opened International Convention Centre.

Here are the key topics discussed in talks and panels:


The day kicked off with some food-for-thought and focused on the latest hot topics in the industry—namely “radical transparency,” “building trust,” and “brand shifts.”

Discussion around transparency continued down the well-known path of showcasing how most parties involved in the ad delivery chain take a digital tax along the way. Fees and their role in transparency were, understandably, a point of interest for publishers and buyers alike.

Pricing and GDPR

For any programmatic beginners at the summit, the key takeaway was to ask the right questions of trusted vendors on how much they are taking, while carefully choosing who to work with. This consensus got the thumbs-ups from the crowd to mitigate the lack of visibility in the value chain.

Though not yet directly impacting the majority of digital stakeholders in APAC, sighs echoed through the crowd whenever the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was casually dropped into conversations. The BBC took a positive spin coming to the conclusion that though the GDPR may become a global requirement in the long run, Australia will be in a fortunate position to have had a chance to learn from EMEA. Thus, being able to prepare and prevent any major negative, financial impact in the future.


The panel around trust, with DataXu, IAS, and Bohemia participating, aided the transparency conversations – flagging that close to 40 percent of publishers have fully adopted the implementation of ads.txt on their sites in Australia. This move is helping to prevent low dollar arbitrage from further circulating in the programmatic industry. Additionally, the panel decided that it also comes down to trust breeding more trust with buyers to foster incrementally growing CPM rates for high-quality publisher inventory.


Tangents of similar conversations with Multi-Channel Network (MCN) highlighted their goal of automating video buying for linear TV and using data overlays to entice their buyer’s confidence and to channel further brand dollars into programmatic. Likewise, the BBC’s numbers reflected that 49 percent of advertisers are already engaging audiences via programmatic video.

From the buyer’s perspective, Lenovo shared their learnings of taking the programmatic building blocks and tech in-house. This allows them greater campaign success by running an external agency model as a pure sales function on top.


Other discussions on the rise of custom ad formats discussed on the native panel, including Outbrain, Publicis, and News, concluded that native is still relatively nascent. Mobile is often the first point of engagement and desktop display native often requires on full-page takeovers. In many cases, both co-exist in parallel with the aim to focus on story-telling to circumvent ad blockers with high-engagement ad formats.

Brand Spend Moving to Programmatic

The final key trend discussed was brand spend migrating into programmatic—which offers large, future opportunities. Over the last year, numerous curve balls have been thrown into the digital industry with ads.txt, fraud prevention, GDPR and header bidding, to mention a few.

Header bidding, in particular, is causing an explosion of impressions hitting both publisher- and buy-side vendors and exponentially raising infrastructure costs for all parties involved. Often these challenges can only be minimized with smart impression routing via machine learning, as developed by PubMatic.

Ultimately the aim is to foster supply path optimization for buyers and increase their value by proxy due to additional transparency, viewability, fraud-free programs and smart cost structures. This naturally opens the path to transact brand IOs via programmatic and guaranteed workflows.

What’s Next?

It was a pleasure to attend and participate in valuable discussions at the Programmatic Summit. PubMatic is actively working to improve our infrastructure and innovate our technology to address the ongoing, and ever-changing needs of our dynamic industry. To learn more about our solutions, and how they can benefit buyers and publishers, reach out to us today.