According to figures released in May by IAB Mexico, that country's digital ad market grew 38% in 2012 to $492 million (6.4 billion Mexican pesos). In terms of the state of programmatic advertising, Jacobs cautioned these are still early days.
"From our vantage point about the reasons for launching in Latin America now, we see investment going on, we see inventory available," Jacobs said. "There were skills sets that we could hire. The region is catching up very quickly. I don't think the wider ad-tech industry has made the same commitment to Latin America. But enough people and companies have."
As for the general business climate for programmatic in the region, Jacobs downplayed aspects such as Brazil's comparatively less restrictive privacy laws as to why there's so much promise there.
"When you consider programmatic advertising on a global basis at this point, privacy regulations are a patchwork quilt," Jacobs said. "One of the funny differences in the way startups view that issue around the world is, 'Ugh, how do we get our heads around this?' But as a holding company, one of the reasons we exist is to help big clients understand the landscape and put a comprehensive strategy together around things like programmatic. So regulation is not really a special concern."
Elaborating on his thoughts about privacy and regulation in Latin America, Jacobs said he is careful to remind clients that programmatic is not synonymous with real-time bidding and cookie-based targeting. In that sense, privacy is not a primary matter. Clients are much more interested in analytics and understanding the various audience segments in a particular market as opposed to worrying about regulation, he said.
The job of figuring out the details of Accuen's Latin American business will be placed mainly on the shoulders of Andres Puentes. A digital veteran on both the client and agency sides, Puentes joined Omnicom Media Group in 2011 after serving in interactive advertising positions at Nokia and WPP's Wunderman. He will head Latin American operations from Miami.
Accuen has roughly 200 employees worldwide. In Latin America, it is starting with 15 staffers based in Miami, Argentina and Colombia, with "aggressive expansion" into Mexico and Chile by the end of the year.
Looking ahead at Accuen's wider global strategy, Jacobs said that in addition to rolling out its Latin American operations over the next few months, the company will turn more of its attention to growing its business in Russia.
"There are still a number of countries that we're working on and we will have more to say about Russia in the next few weeks," Jacobs said. "While we have local operations in most of the 60 countries we serve, we're doubling down on filling in the blanks that remain. North Africa is a perfect example. We operate in two or three different countries there with a team in Dubai covering that work. So we're going to be working on investing in creating a daily, on-the-ground presence in those countries."