Meet The Experts, Part-4: Interview with Kautsar Ikrami - YuktaMedia

September 29th, 2020

Meet The Experts, Part-4: Interview with Kautsar Ikrami

YuktaMedia is excited to introduce the fourth speaker in the “Meet The Experts” series. The goal of this series is to interview leading professionals in the digital publishing industry around the globe. The goal is to learn from the experts, especially now, that the Publishing industry is hurting the most. We hope that by sharing and learning from each other’s experiences Publishers will continue to not only survive but thrive over the years to come.

Our fourth interview is with Kautsar Ikrami, General Manager, Digital Ad Operations & Programmatic at Kompas Gramedia. With over 9 years’ experience in both international retail & media companies, Kautsar has qualifications in a variety of roles and industries. During his career, Kautsar has focused on digital sales, marketing, and constantly growing programmatic industry. Kautsar as led programmatic at Kompas Gramedia, as General Manager, Digital Ad Operations & Programmatic, and before that he was at Fox Networks Group Asia.

We are grateful to Kautsar for taking the time out of his busy schedule and participate in this initiative of giving back to the Publishing community.

Aditya Bhelande – COVID-19 has added to the misery of already hurting Publishers. Looking back what and where did things go wrong for Publishers?

Kautsar Ikrami

  • We have noticed that as the market started reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic, advertisers were being cautious and spending less than usual at the beginning. Publishers being a part of the ecosystem started seeing the impact of these new changes. Though the overall digital revenue was slightly affected, we observed that the open auction revenue & CPM has significantly decreased, especially since the speculation around the announcement of the demise of the third-party cookie.
  • Publishers are at the front lines of Covid-19 information and people are looking at Publishers to keep them informed. At KG Media, we’ve seen a spike in readership & engagement about COVID-19 related topics, and some other content categories are growing beyond their typical readership too. I believe that those who continue to innovate and find new ways to respond creatively and empathetically, will be successful in engaging audiences and driving revenue in the days to come.
  • Since August & September 2020, we saw that things are getting back in place, as the supply chain has started to adapt & adjust with the new normal.

Aditya Bhelande – With Publisher revenues dwindling, would it make sense for Publishers to invest in any technology/platform (SaaS or in-house)? If yes, which business areas/technologies would you suggest?

Kautsar Ikrami – Yes, Publishers should invest in the technology/platform whether it is in-house or outsourced. Publishers should focus more on developing their infrastructure in areas such as – data management platform (for better audience targeting and improved ROI), data analysis system (for better yield monetization or optimization), and the self-service capability (for capturing the SME budgets). Having an outsourced consultant may help publishers to break down & identify any opportunities that may not be visible easily. Publishers, whether they are smaller or bigger, should invest in the technology because it is the key to success factors. Not investing in the right technology will hurt the Publishers in the long run.

Aditya Bhelande – With 3rd party cookies going away soon, what steps do you think Publishers should take so that they are ready to brace the impact on revenue and business in general?

Kautsar Ikrami

  • Publishers need to quickly collect and manage their first-party data (on a large scale) in a proper system so that they’re able to create targeted onsite journeys, customized experiences and also build direct relationships with the users.
  • Our strategy is to collect constant identifiers like emails, phone numbers, and other inferred signals to be hashed and then passed along the ad tech value chain. We have been in discussion with the ad tech company about using different technologies that are being adopted and implemented on the demand-side. It starts with the data collection and ends with the monetization.

Aditya Bhelande – How should Publisher manage their audiences, related data, and leverage these from a monetization perspective?

Kautsar Ikrami

  • Publishers could utilize a proper DMP to manage critical audience data assets and effectively segment inventory for better-targeted ad distribution for DSPs, SSPs, Ad Exchanges, and Ad Network. It also enables more options for our advertisers while providing them targeted impressions from high-value consumers.
  • Create unique audience profiles from first, the second party (advertiser), and third-party data integration. The industry has already started shifting away from the third party data and getting closer to the first-party data that Publishers own.
  • Audience extension can increase our audience base in an effective way of improving campaigns and reach. It is more of a DSP side technology to get the maximum reach, but Publishers can try it for improving their audience acquisition.

Aditya Bhelande – There have been some talks about Publishers forming consortium’s to take on BIG Tech. Is that feasible? What would be the challenges and is there a way to make a consortium successful?

Kautsar Ikrami

  • Yes, I am aware of some Publisher consortiums — and I also agree that there’s an opportunity for high-quality Publishers on forming consortiums (especially, when many advertisers are pushing back against Google and Facebook).
  • In a much mature market, this alliance may work. However, in the Indonesian market, few attempts were made (backboned by few ad-techs), but this has been facing multiple challenges as there is competition within the Publishers. Their vision & mission is also very diverse. As a result, there is no concrete long-term road map that everybody agrees on.

Aditya Bhelande – How will the rise of OTT impact traditional web Publishers (News, Finance, Sports, etc.)? Is there potentially an opportunity for web Publishers?

Kautsar Ikrami

  • We realize that brands have already started and tapped into OTT platforms as an important advertising channel (for video/tv ads). We also believe that OTT platforms and solutions will gain the utmost popularity and will receive a significant advertising budget hike in 2020-21. Thus, innovation is the key to stay relevant.
  • Publishers need to consistently shape and refine their product offerings to grab these new users’ behavior. KG has been putting an endless effort to increase the mobile-app user and video viewers, by providing the best VOD news contents directly from KompasTV apps.

Aditya Bhelande – Which revenue generation strategies should Publishers now pursue in addition to advertising revenue? And how will these strategies differ by Publisher size?

Kautsar Ikrami

  • Publishers being dependent only on Ad-revenue is what went wrong. There should have been more than one revenue stream to maintain a steady and diversified revenue.
  • Content Marketing – For us, Kompas GO’s award-winning journalism is the biggest strength. We saw that users engage more with the ads if the content is great. Our efforts to focus on quality content has earned the trust of the users as well as the advertisers. We will be continuing to build more quality content for our users. We also promote sponsored content through Kompas and we follow all advertising ethics. For example, we highlight users if the content is sponsored. Advertiser’s sponsored content has added another stream of revenue for our company while maintaining high standards.
  • Creativity to cross-selling with top ad tech partners – This is an interesting case, which worked well beyond our expectations for us. We partnered with one of the traditional video competitors to create an advertising package. Our video partner’s influence and Kompass’s trust offered a unique combination for the advertisers to spread their brand awareness like never before. The campaign was so successful that a lot of advertisers were upset because our packages were sold out within a month. Now they have to wait until the next year! In a nutshell, we worked closely with the competitor and both of us flourished while cooperating.
  • Solution-Oriented Offerings – Go to the advertisers without a media kit. Instead, ask them what are their problems and how you can help them to address those issues.

Aditya Bhelande – Do you believe that Publishers today have a global presence similar to say a New York Times? What suggestions would you give to aspiring Publishers to get there?

Kautsar Ikrami

  • The Internet is one medium that made the world a smaller place to live in, so yes, I do believe that Publishers have the opportunity to have a global presence.
  • Yes. KG has launched Kompas GO, which is a global platform and showcases news from across the globe. This content is delivered in English to tap the global audience. We launched Kompas GO in June 2020, so it’s still relatively new to the market. The fundamental theory is, the more you grab the International audiences, the better eCPMs you earn.
  • If you understand your audience well and start targeting the relevant audience across the globe, then it will ensure that you provide a good quality of content. I will say becoming a global Publisher is not impossible.

Aditya Bhelande – What would be your top three recommendations for Publishers as they try to get through COVID-19 and beyond?

Kautsar Ikrami

  • Being resilient in facing and adopting new changes – Our CEO says this quote in every meeting. The reason our CEO kept repeating the resilient word is that Kompass is known as a traditional newspaper company, and today, Kompass still exists because of the digital ecosystem. The newspaper readership is declining, but the Kompass was able to catch up on the digital side and thrive on digital revenue. We survived because of our resilience and adapting to the new changes.
  • User first approach – We strictly follow the users-first approach to improve the user experience on our properties. It’s not about the fill rate, it’s not about the revenue, it’s all about the user experience because the content and the users are the basic building blocks for any Publisher and it pays well in the long run.
  • Growth mindset – If we don’t have that growth mindset, it becomes really hard to stay on top or become a market leader.


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Aditya Bhelande

Aditya Bhelande

Aditya is the founder & managing partner at YuktaMedia. He has rich global experience in Digital Media having worked with large Publisher and Media Houses. That paired with deep technical knowledge of enterprise systems has let him found and lead YuktaMedia and create and drive the YuktaOne platform.

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