Multiculturalism brings with it a number of opportunities, such as access to specific skills and knowledge, economic growth, and a chance to learn about and discover other cultures – just to name a few. But for advertisers and marketers, multiculturalism also opens the door to a niche market – one that they can enter with great success, if done correctly.
So, for our latest edition of Insider’s View: Ad Tech & MarTech Q&A, we caught up with a man who knows and understands multicultural advertising from both sides of the advertising equation – Niklas Nikolaidis.
Niklas is the founder of Joinville – an independent trading desk specializing in multicultural and global online advertising.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your background and expertise in the Ad Tech industry?
I worked as a Marketing Manager for various US and UK companies and ran heavily with SEM and display campaigns back in 2004 and onwards. Having done that for a couple of years and with bigger and bigger budgets, I realized there was a need for a niche digital entity with the skills I had acquired.
So in 2008, I quit my day job and started a digital agency/affiliate network selling ad space through CPA deals. I thought affiliate marketing was what every advertiser wanted. Boy, was I wrong…! :)
As client campaign briefs got more and more complex and global, I realized that direct media buys would not deliver the results and ROI our clients needed. So I started looking at programmatic advertising (this was 2011) to pinpoint the users and inventory we needed. Google let us in as a certified partner for AdX in 2011 where I started trading. Back then, demand-side platform (DSP) UIs were breaking all the time and geo-targeting worked badly. Luckily, this has improved a lot.
Since 2011, I’ve led a team of media traders and yield managers optimizing on both sides of the auction. This gives us a unique understanding of the relationship between the buyers and sellers in the programmatic marketplace, as we also monetise publisher inventory through aggregating different SSPs and direct advertisers.
To simplify vertical audience targeting, we built our own audience platform, Mundo, and integrated it on top of several DSPs. It now has hundreds of users from all continents.
2. What specifically does Joinville do and how does it fit into the larger online advertising and marketing picture?
Joinville’s programmatic buying arm helps clients and agencies buy media, execute and optimize campaigns targeting multicultural (ethnic) audiences. Those buys are facilitated via DSPs and individual direct site buys.
We started as a programmatic trading desk for multicultural advertising in 2011 as we saw an increased demand for marketing services catering to companies and organizations selling and communicating to the fast-growing multicultural communities.
At the time, we were only able to access programmatic inventory either directly on ad exchanges like DoubleClick AdX or on US-based DSPs, which had very little non-US inventory available as they were mostly looking at US impressions.
To scale client campaigns rapidly, we built up databases of high-performing sites, apps and video platforms suitable for multicultural advertising together with setting up publisher marketplaces for specific audiences.
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In a nutshell, Joinville targets these hard-to-find vertical, cultural audiences (ethnic) and serves them with the right message in the right context.
3. As a company that specializes in multicultural advertising and marketing, what are some of the challenges companies face when expanding their advertising and marketing activities into new countries and cultures? And more importantly, how can they overcome some of the initial hurdles?
What is interesting to see is that some countries like Turkey, Poland and others have Internet users that are very reluctant to act on ads. Click rates and engagement levels tend to be lower across the board for those countries and have been so during my time in this industry. So culture, history and also country-specific traditions matter when trying to penetrate certain markets.
Color usage can also be very sensitive in specific countries – in some Asian countries the color yellow is seen as a sign of illness, in Latin American countries red is historically a reminder of their colonisation.
There are some easy-to-miss details that could disturb or destroy a company’s go-to-market strategy if they don’t pay attention to them. Running user testing pre-launch is an easy way to avoid these problems.
4. What have been some of the biggest changes that you’ve seen in online advertising and marketing since Joinville started in 2011?
Adtech overall has improved a lot since 2011 with major transparency improvements overall; deal ID functionality is now streamlined between platforms. Combating ad fraud is now a priority, even though it should be even more prioritised, and machine learning is becoming more mainstream both in reporting, automation and targeting.
To me, the sell side is a much more dynamic area where header bidding is paving the way for a unified auction and as a way to eliminate all the manual steps previously involved in an auction.
Finally, I also see blockchain technology starting to emerge as a serious alternative for identity management and user verification for the years to come.
5. How does the multicultural marketing and advertising market in the US compare to the one in Europe? Is one doing better and/or growing faster than the other? And why do you think this is?
The US adtech sector and programmatic advertising is, in my opinion, 1-2 years ahead of the rest of the world. Both in the actual QPS horsepower needed to enter the market but also in overall market maturity for data-driven media buys.
The same applies to multicultural marketing where the sheer market size (120 million people are considered multicultural in the US) is 3x bigger than, for example, in Europe. So data sets, audience lists and campaign requirements are much more sophisticated in the US than elsewhere.
Click here to read our previous Ad Tech & MarTech Q&As.