Take your 2019 Marketing Strategy to the next level

Data is a powerful component of digital marketing and is used by many leading  brands to accelerate their business growth. However, multiple layers of technology, the diversity of channels available and the lack of talents have made it quite overwhelming.

This best practice guide will help you quickly assess where your digital marketing  strategy is at and what you should focus on in 2019.

It’s organised in four parts covering the foundations of audience-based marketing.

  1. REACH : Do you know your audience and how to engage with them?
  2. COLLECT : Where are you in the process of data collection?
  3. LEARN : How do you measure to test and learn from your digital activities?
  4. OPTIMIZE : Are you ready to move beyond your current strategy?

Download here and learn how to deliver a successful data-driven marketing strategy this year!

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How is digital transformation impacting Ad Management for publishers in APAC

If managing ad operations in publishing and media companies is quite an endeavour, so is implementing new software solutions where people in sales, planning and accounting can be aligned. It’s not just about the application, but the way people approach it and manage change. That’s where the role of management consultants is key to closing the gap in any software implementation process.

How is digital transformation shaping? One of our consulting partners addresses this issue.

Marlene Vicaire’s Experience in Advertising Management

Marlene Vicaire is quite an interesting entrepreneur.  She’s an award-winning strategist with over 14 years of experience across creative, media and technology organisations. It is no wonder that she has worked with the likes of Fairfax, AppNexus, Rubicon Project, eBay Advertising, Nine, Doubleclick for Publishers and was awarded the Mumbrella MSIX Award ‘Best Use of Neuroscience’ .

According to Hong Kong’s French Chamber of Commerce, she has “an exceptional ability to translate her digital marketing knowledge and consult on broader digital business strategy to achieve better organisational outcomes.”

The founder of T-Shape Consulting, a strategic consultancy firm specialised in driving media performance for publishers and brands in the APAC region, is working with ADvendio’s ad sales management footprint in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and China, to assist teams in the implementation and onboarding of order management software. 

With the digital transformation of the publishing, broadcasting, advertising, and media industry, what do you think is the scope of the advertising management process today? How has it changed?

Advertising management is a complex process. For publishers who have come from a print background, it’s still a challenge to align their direct and programmatic operations. As a result, I feel the scope has increased in complexity. Having said that, working with the right technology partners has proven to revolve a lot of the intricacies of managing sales and operations efficiently.

Have advertising-creative-agency relationships changed with digital transformation?

Absolutely! After a decade scoring for leading creative and advertising agencies, I have realised the disconnect some brands experience in their communications strategies. The main reason is that agencies are usually briefed separately and don’t come up together with the idea and the media plan. The result is often disjointed which means the brand is unlikely to engage successfully with their target audience.

How do you help media companies “connect the dots” between their goals and the technologies they use for ad sales, billing or inventory management?

We look at the business outcome first, and the technology second. What does this mean?

  • We first get to understand the business by conducting a needs analysis, then we come up with recommendations and a scope of work.
  • Often this translates into reviewing existing processes, partnerships, technologies and conducting in-depth interviews with the different stakeholders involved in the project.
  • More importantly, we make sure to transfer our knowledge and build internal capabilities within our client’s team.

What do you consider are “the missing links” between an ad management software and a consultancy service?

In the past, ad operations have not been looked at as a revenue-generating department, but more as a cost centre. The truth is, operations are actually at the core of any advertising business and therefore it should be looked out at from a strategic level. As a consultancy, our aim is to ensure the choice of technology is closely aligned with the overall business objectives. We translate the business imperative into technical requirements, leading to sustainable growth.

Operations are at the core of any advertising business and it should be looked out from a strategic level – Marlene Vicaire

Is that relationship critical to choosing one order management software versus another one, for instance?

You can have the best-in-class technologies onboard and still not using them successfully to make a difference in your business. Working with a consultant can help identify and address potential roadblocks, either internally by educating and supporting the teams, or externally by identifying threats and opportunities.

In your experience, what factors are critical for a successful ad operations implementation process?

As for any investment, media owners should have a roadmap and define measurable outcomes from the technologies they implement. Those KPIs can be measured in terms of time efficiencies, improved processes, additional revenue, financial accuracy, increased precision in reporting, etc.

Within the media and advertisers, who are the key players in the transformation of advertising operations within these organizations? What is needed from them in an implementation process?

It really depends on the company’s size. Large publishers have specific teams that are responsible for driving the digitalisation of their operations, whereas with small to medium publishers, we usually speak directly to the COO or CTO and we train up their team ourselves. For advertisers, we would work with their CDO or CMO, depending on who’s looking after the media side.

The most important steps for a successful implementation is:

  • To have a clear understanding of the key stakeholders internally, ideally one “project owner.”
  • To define measurable goals in terms of ROI.
  • Being transparent with the team and listening to their challenges in terms of process.

At the end of the day, our objective is to transfer knowledge and build internal capabilities within their team.

Advertising Sales Management in Asia Pacific

You work all around the Asia Pacific Region. Are there any specific features in the APAC media industry that make it different from other regions?

I guess the most obvious difference is that it is not one continent or culture. The APAC region is inherently composed of radically different markets with their own culture, language, and dynamics… As a result, there are various differences in terms of how we adapt to their needs. Having worked in Australia for 10 years before relocating to Hong Kong, I can say there is a huge gap in terms of market education, speed to market, etc.
On the other hand, Singapore and Japan are quite advanced. In summary, there is no “one size fits all”, and as consultants, our job is to support our clients regardless of where they are in their journey towards digitalisation.

There have been very recent developments that affect the industry in Europe and the US, such as new standards and privacy regulations. How is APAC affected by these?

We haven’t seen a lot of changes in the Asia-Pacific region for now. Having said that, publishers who have a huge audience from the US or Europe have taken the right steps to be compliant with GDPR. As for the ones who are not relying on this audience, they have simply blocked this source of traffic as it doesn’t impact their business.
In the long term, there will certainly be a need to align across the board, but each country has its own legal system when it comes to privacy policies, so it might be a more complex process in this region.

The End of Doubleclick Sales Manager: Changing the Culture in Media

Google DSM ends in 2019, and many media companies are looking for replacements for their order management systems. The work of management consultants in the process is key, as it’s not just implementing a new software but moving an entire organization from one system into another one against the clock. We asked T-Shape founder about this issue.

What steps are critical to the change and implementation process?

The most important element of change is to change the culture. It’s a new way of working for everyone! Sales, operations, finance, data… Being here to support the teams through change, helping them improve processes, assist them to have a clear roadmap and define the responsibilities and deliverables with third-party solutions are core steps to deliver a successful implementation.

This article was originally published in ADvendio’s blog

GDPR: What Steps should Publishers take to be Compliant in APAC?

With GDPR compliance deadline taking effect on 25th May 2018, we feel it is crucial for Publishers in the APAC region to understand how this affect them and make sure they are compliant. This is a summary of what DFP clients should be aware of and a few steps to make sure they play safe with the GDPR compliance required when using personal data from European citizens.

How GDPR affects Publishers in APAC? (1)
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European law with extraterritorial impact. It means that it will impact companies beyond the European border. In this context, it is a requirement to make certain disclosures to your users in the European Economic Area (EEA) and obtain their consent for the use of cookies or other local storage, and for the use of personalised ads.
Here’s a diagram helping you answer how you are impacted by GDPR.

GDPR Complliance.png
Now that we explained GDPR and why it is important for Publisher to comply, let’s see what the setup process looks like when using DFP.

How should Publishers implement it in DoubleClick For Publishers? (2)
Whether you’re a small business or a premium user on DFP, Google provides guidance to publishers in meeting their duties under the EU User Consent Policy which is accessible in the Admin section, under “EU user consent”.
We’ve crunched the steps to give an overview of the key steps to follow in order for Publishers to meet their duties under this policy, which reflects the requirements of the EU ePrivacy Directive and the GDPR.

DFP – Step-by-step Process for AdOps

1 – Select the type of ads you want to show

2 – Select ad technology providers (for personalised ads)

3 – Select a line item serving option

4 – Set up consent gathering

What should Publishers be aware of through this process?

1 – Personalised or non-personalised ads, that is the question
Personalised ads reach users based on their interests, demographics, and other criteria. Because ad technology providers may collect, receive, and use personal data from users in personalized ads,
If you wish to continue showing personalised ads to users in the EEA, it is a requirement to clearly identify all ad technology providers when you obtain user consent for the collection, sharing, and use of personal data for ads personalisation.Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 8.53.03 AM.png
As a result, Publishers can choose the option that suits best to their needs in their DFP set-up.

2 – Challenging limitation on Ad Technology providers (3 & 4)
Publishers who use Google’s consent-gathering tool, Funding Choices, can only use 12 ad tech vendors, according to an update on Google’s support blog. The ad tech vendors publishers can get user consent for have been largely limited should they choose to use Google’s consent manager provider, or CMP, under the GDPR, as first reported by AdExchanger.

What is Google CMP?

The Google consent interface greets site visitors with a request to use data to tailor advertising, with equally prominent “no” and “yes” buttons. If a reader declines to be tracked, he or she sees a notice saying the ads will be less relevant and asking to “agree” or go back to the previous page. According to a source, one research study on this type of opt-out mechanism led to opt-out rates of more than 70%.

Google’s and other consent-gathering solutions are basically a series of pop-up notifications that provide a mechanism for publishers to provide clear disclosure and consent in accordance with data regulations.

Another point worth your attention is the use of personalised ads through programmatic transactions (DFP/AdX), here’s what Google says:

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 9.02.01 AM.png

3 – Consent across Mobile apps & AMP (5)
Since GDPR applies across all devices and platforms, Publishers also need to carefully add user consent options in their mobile apps. On this matter, Google provides the following process set-up recommendations using their Consent SDK.

What is Consent SDK?

The Consent SDK is an open-source library that provides utility functions for collecting consent from your users.

3.1 – Update consent status

When using the Consent SDK, it is recommended that you determine the state of a user’s consent at every app launch.
Google’s Consent SDK provides two ways to collect consent from a user:

Remember to provide users with the option to Change or revoke consent.

What is Google-rendered consent dialog?

The Google-rendered consent dialog is a full-screen configurable dialog that displays over your app content. You can configure the dialog to present the user with combinations of the following options:

  • Consent to view personalized ads
  • Consent to view non-personalized ads
  • Use a paid version of the app instead of viewing ads

If you use Google to monetise your app, it is the Publisher’s responsibility to review the consent text carefully, as they do not provide any legal advice on the consent text that is appropriate.

3.2 – Forwarding user consent status to the Google Mobile Ads SDK

  • Use the open-source Consent SDK to obtain consent from users. Once collected, consent state will be shared automatically with the Google Mobile Ads SDK.
  • Forward consent without the Consent SDK to the Google Mobile Ads SDK. This option is for publishers who implement their own consent collection or are a third-party building a consent solution for publishers using the Google Mobile Ads SDK.

3.3 Forward consent without the Consent SDK

The default behavior of the Google Mobile Ads SDK is to serve personalized ads. If a user has consented to receive only non-personalized ads, you can configure an DFPRequest object with the following code to specify that only non-personalized ads should be returned.

3.4 Ads personalisation settings for AMP pages

Ad requests from AMP pages offer the same ads personalisation settings as the non-AMP pages previously described: publishers may choose to serve personalised ads to all users located in the European Economic Activity (EEA), or they may choose to serve personalised/non-personalised ads selectively based on consent.

Despite a majority of Publishers in the APAC region deciding to simplify block all traffic coming from from EEA in order to avoid any fines by the regulators, we believe it is still core for Publishers to understand the ins and out of such regulation for the future of their business.
For the ones targeting European audiences, this is an amazing opportunity to lift up their game and become a true international leader. For further advice, feel free to contact us for consulting and training services on GDPR data compliance and DFP implementation.
Disclaimer: this guide is based on public resources available on DFP at the time the article was written. We do not take any responsibility for any Publisher’s compliance nor legal liability in relation to user consent under GDPR. Please speak with your existing ad technology providers, as well as your internal teams for bespoke set-up and legal compliance.

About T-Shape Consulting
T-Shape Consulting is fast-growing strategic consultancy firm in digital advertising and marketing. We provide consulting and training services to support companies in successfully leveraging their digital properties through tailor-made strategies using data, media and creative solutions. For more information, visit our website http://www.tshape.me


  1. Tools to help publishers comply with the GDPR
  2. Comply with EU user consent policy
  3. Google’s GDPR Consent Tool Will Limit Publishers To 12 Ad Tech Vendors
  4. The media industry scrambles to understand Google’s latest GDPR update
  5. Requesting Consent from European Users


2017: The Power Of One

It is with great pleasure that T-Shape Consulting is celebrating 1 year in business. To most people, one year in business isn’t much, but for a solo entrepreneur like myself, it means a great deal. It actually means everything. Let me explain.

Two years ago, I was appointed regional marketing director at a promising international adtech company. At the time, taking this new role was a major shift in my career considering I had spent over 12 years working for the best media and creative agencies and had a highly regarded profile in the company I worked for then. Nevertheless, I happily decided to take this new opportunity that was offered to me as a challenge, along with a keen interest in getting to understand what was behind the promise so many advertising start-ups were offering to marketers. While I learned a lot in this new role alongside a team of brilliant and caring individuals, I quickly realised I missed what I have always liked doing previously: solve a business outcome first, and think about the technology second. This meant I had to let go selling a specific product and focus on offering a genuine, agnostic and independent advice on the different solutions media buyers and sellers could implement to achieve their goals.

As I was trying to write my own new year’s resolutions, I decided to focus on ONE single thing I would like to achieve professionally this year. Why ONE you will ask? Because there are so many inspiring stories of the impact “one” can have in building a business: one person, one client, one project, one partnership, one year (you name it).

After Google searching “the power of one” which returned a list of irrelevant results, I realised what I was looking for was right in front of me: number 1. Funnily, I found my answer on a numerology website. Here’s an extract:

In numerology 2017 is associated to the number 1. From a spiritual perspective, it is the number of creation, the primal force from which all other numbers spring forth.

The 1 is a doer, a powerful force that produces results and does not allow anything or anyone to limit its potential. The 1 is aggressive, a necessary energy for creating and producing. The 1 is always in the forefront: a spearpoint directing and leading others. The shape of the number 1, just like the shape of all other symbols, reflects its meaning; it walks upright with pride and purpose. Strong, determined, unwavering and with specific goals in mind, the 1 can turn dreams and ideas into reality. It pushes obstacles aside or simply drills right through them.

Creating a consulting business on my own was not an easy decision, but over the past year, I have been able to find my own path in helping clients resolving their business problems. I had the opportunity to consult with truly amazing clients such as eBay, Fairfax, Signal, and Adomik. As an entrepreneur in the wide (and wild) world of the media industry, this taught me COURAGE, DETERMINATION, STRENGTH as well as RESPECT, INDEPENDENCE and RESPONSIBILITY.

And the one single thing I am committed to this year is to help my clients transform their business successfully and preserve their position in a more crowded online marketplace.

What does this mean for you? It means identifying what is the ONE challenge you’d like to work on to make a difference in your business this year. Whether you are looking at your pricing strategy, your data offering, your marketing plan, your staff educational needs or your technology stack – I can help provide you with the focus you need to achieve great results.

Programmatic: The Future is Creative

My journey to becoming a consultant in media and creative marketing solutions for global brands has been both challenging and rewarding. But when it first began, I never realised just how significant programmatic advertising would become.

The first time I accepted a role in this field, I did so with little knowledge of what would come out of it. Yet I happily took the position with leading global creative agency DDB Group, managing Telstra’s first-in-market “always on” program.

Coming from Razorfish – the quintessential full-service digital agency of the time – the concept of combining technology with creative was nothing new. We were already engaging in real-time buying and dynamic creative messaging when Vivaki launched their Audience On Demand platform, without knowing this practice would soon become mainstream.

Fast forward to today, and we are seeing a rapid rise in ad blocking, particularly among mobile users and the younger generation; a clear indication that consumers are dissatisfied with inadequate messaging and ad formats.

At a time when users increasingly expect the content they want, when they want it, from wherever they want, the current advertising model simply isn’t cutting it.

The Creativity Gap

At the heart of this issue lies the fact that creative agencies have been left out of the advertising technology industry for far too long. It is this historic lack of integration between creative and media agencies during the planning process that has caused a major roadblock in getting creative up-to-speed with the programmatic environment.

I was reminded of the crucial role of creative in the successful adoption of technology amongst brands and consumers, during attendance at Mumbrella 360 last week.

Joy Robins, VP of Global Revenue and Strategy at Quartz, gave an eye-opening account of how publishers and advertisers can regain the trust of consumers. What struck me the most was the fact that their success came from flipping the advertising model on its head, by creating “out-of-the-box” creative advertisements that did NOT interrupt the user experience on their website or app.

While Joy’s session may have been insightful, there is an astonishingly little focus on creativity amongst the countless conferences, panels and editorials discussing “the future of programmatic”.

Innovation Through Collaboration

So what can we do to bridge this gap and ensure creativity is not lost amidst the dominating focus on media and technology?

For publishers, the answer lies in working closely with advertisers to fully understand their audience; rethinking creative ad formats and the resulting user experience and journey, and ensuring effective engagement with their users.

Media agencies meanwhile need to develop strategic planning with the creative agency, working closely with creatives to understand their workflow. Educating and training staff on digital marketing – including creative, user experience, content, and the user journey – will go a long way in enabling smooth partnerships with their creative counterparts.

Similarly, creative agencies should bring staff up-to-speed on digital, media and technology, and focus on enhancing storytelling through multiple touchpoints. Investing in real-time insights will assist in planning while the use of Dynamic Creative Optimisation and versioning will facilitate a more efficient workflow when partnering with media agencies.

As for the advertisers, there needs to be a shift away from a product planning strategy to a more audience-centric planning strategy. Collaboration between creative and media agencies should be a requirement at all times, and a neutral planning approach covering omnichannel should be developed.

Just as in my early days at Razorfish – which saw a melting pot of talent from technology, creative and media all working together – the solution to bridging the creative gap lies in effective collaboration between creative and media agencies.

It lies in this collaboration being present at every stage – from defining the overarching strategy, all the way through to campaign execution.

And crucially, it lies in recognising the vital importance of creativity in effective digital advertising.


Stay tuned for my next post, where I will focus on the relationship between data and creativity.

5 digital marketing resolutions for a successful user-centric strategy

As the digital marketing landscape continues to evolve in 2016, brands require to better suit consumer preferences, adapt to new technologies and preserve their position in a more crowded online marketplace. While all the predictions seems to be around the need to resolve issues such as ad-fraud, viewability and brand safety at a macro-level, in my view there is a more urgent need for marketers to focus on developing user-centric approaches through data-driven technologies in order to achieve their business objectives.

You can take a systematic approach to developing a successful user-centric strategy by following these 5 steps:

  1. Get Your Data In Order

Programmatic advertising involves assessing a number of data points to unearth powerful audience trends. Before briefing your media and creative agency, having a thorough understanding of your own data will improve your targeting.

  • Align your data sources: map out what data you are collecting and how across all your online and offline channels (website, online marketing campaigns, social channels, in-store, CRM, call center, loyalty programs…). Then, identify any gaps that if filled would give you a complete view of your target audience.
  • Leverage 3rd party data: use data providers to overlay and enrich your owned and earned data. In addition to publishers’ data, there are a certain number of data companies who provide niche audiences data points specific to your vertical.
  • Unify the data you have to define your audience DNA: create a single view across all your owned, earned and paid channels using a data management platform, which will enable you to segment your audience in order to target them with the right messages through the right media.
  1. Use Data To Feed The Planning Communication Process

Once you know how your data is collected, aggregated, stored and segmented, work on defining the user journey of those different segments. The more granular and relevant you are, the better the experience for your customer and the better the return on investment for your business.

  • Understand the emotional journey (user journey): identify the triggers that make a consumer engage with your brand and define their sweet-spot i.e. the exact moment that brings the highest response rate. Analyse the content that’s been consumed and/or shared before the conversion across all channels.
  • Understand your user’s consideration path: create consumer relevant digital solutions to drive traffic to the right content, increasing customer satisfaction and enabling an ongoing relationship between your customers and your brand.
  • Adopt media-neutral planning: media neutrality can be defined as picking the best mediums for reaching the target – without any preconceived biases – before you start thinking about creative. It requires an integrated approach, starting from the customer insights through an inclusive and merit-based review of media options during your marketing communications planning.
  • Activate your owned, earned and paid data: get your technology, media and creative partners to brainstorm and suggest the most efficient strategies toimagesgether. Make them accountable for the objectives and associated metrics.
  1. Tailor Your Creative

‘This is such good targeting’ said no customer ever. Customers don’t want to be talked at they want to be understood.

  • Tell a story (experience, engagement): your creative messaging should take the customer on a journey, make sure there are different creative variations along the path to purchase engagement, acquisition, conversion, advocacy.
  • Work with nimble and agile technology partners: define the roles and responsibilities. Make media & creative work together under the same roof to deliver targeted AND relevant messages.
  • Limit repetitive retargeting: if you are using retargeting, make sure you define the sequencing ahead of the campaign as well as the frequency cap. Intensive retargeting can be harmful to your brand if not relevant to the context or the user experience and can result in customers churn.
  1. Test Constantly

Test & Learn is one of the key benefits brought by real-time advertising. In order to successfully optimise your campaigns, it is imperative to have a detailed testing plan. The goal of A/B testing is to identify changes that increase or maximise an outcome of interest (e.g., click-through rate for a banner advertisement).

  • Map out a detailed testing plan for the whole year: highlight which element you wish to test between two variants – A, being the control and B, the variation. It can be the audience, the messaging, the product, the price point, the media buy, the landing page, etc.
  • Act in real-time based on reporting and insights: define processes to make sure your reporting and insights are continuously feeding your campaigns, define test & learn strategies to improve your results.
  1. Optimise Your Strategy Ongoing

Do your offers change throughout the year? So do your customers. Ensuring you revisit your strategy regularly will enable you to better optimise your online marketing budget.

  • Challenge the status quo: the rapid evolution of the digital marketing landscape provides market-first opportunities for your company. Investing a small part of your budget to trial new platforms and technologies will position you as a thought-leader in the market.
  • Work with different partners: although you might already have a specific roster of agencies in place, be open to meet with independent vendors. These can bring innovative solutions as well as additional ideas that have not been looked into before or were dismissed by your agencies previously.

In summary, programmatic opened up a whole new opportunity of growth and innovation for brands looking to position themselves online. The best way to adapt to this highly competitive environment is to develop a successful user-centric strategy following 5 steps:

  1. Get Your Data In Order
  2. Use Data To Feed The Planning Communication Process
  3. Tailor Your Creative
  4. Test Constantly
  5. Optimise Your Strategy Ongoing

Reach out to receive an independent consultancy advice on your marketing strategy and how to develop a user-centric approach to achieve your business objectives.