Emily Tan
Jul 15, 2011

Three areas Asian digital marketers need to brush up on

ASIA-PACIFIC: Last year, Microsoft Advertising ran Digital Quotient (DQ) an online quiz for Asian marketers to measure how digitally savvy they were. The grand prize was a trip to Spikes Asia in Singapore. The results? Not quite so grand.

Kenneth Andrew
Kenneth Andrew

“Overall, scores weren’t great across the board. Strong performances were heavily driven by digital people, which is great, but there’s a need to upskill marketers across the board,” Kenneth Andrew, marketing director, greater Asia-Pacific, Microsoft Advertising told Campaign yesterday.

Digital marketing know-how, continued Andrew, could not be ignored by industry professionals, even if they weren’t officially ‘digital marketers’. “Agencies and clients alike need to be able to understand the capabilities at their disposal. To be able to take a brief, bring it to life digitally and measure its ROI,” he said.

Last year’s quiz identified three areas that digital marketers in Asia needed to improve on. These same areas were the focus of this year’s quiz round, Digital Zenses.

“The idea is to educate and encourage knowledge in these areas. The questions aren’t easy, but they’re not aimed at making participants look dumb,” laughed Andrew. “We want to inspire some healthy rivalry and a good dose of curiosity.”

The first area that needed improvement, he said, was the industry’s knowledge of consumer behaviour and consumer research. “We all know how much time consumers spend online – but what do they actually do and who do they talk to?”

For example, when Microsoft Advertising and Starcom Mediavest embarked on a study of  ‘digital mums’, there was an assumption that mothers mostly spoke to other mothers and stuck to researching and buying baby products. The study however found that mothers influenced a wide circle of people on a wide range of topics. Constantly communicative they were trusted sources and decision makers for many people online and off.  “From this we learnt that brands really needed to be in conversations with these mums,” said Andrew.

There was also a lack of awareness when it came to digital media trends. Marketers weren’t as up to date as they needed to be on trends like rich media ads, audience targeting and emerging screens such as tablets and smartphones, commented Andrew.

“Finally there’s measurement, which is still an ongoing challenge,” he said. Measurement methods have moved beyond click-through rates, but precisely which metrics to use remains a puzzle. “With multiple metrics to use, it may be difficult to determine effectiveness, but it’s a myth that you can’t measure ROI. You certainly can.”

A current issue that Andrew believes will be reflected in Digital Zenses is the battle going on in the marketer’s mind on how to balance or choose between search, social and digital branding. “Marketers need to remember that social is a platform, not a strategy. Kickstarting word-of-mouth is harder than garnering ‘likes’ on Facebook.”

Overall, Andrew believes there is still much in the way of untapped potential in Asia. “At present, the region lags behind in terms of its digital budget. Only 5-10 per cent of marketing budgets go to digital compared with over 40 per cent in markets like the UK and the US. There’s a huge opportunity for growth in Asia and the past year has really raised the bar with more campaigns happening of higher quality,” said Andrew.

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