Despite Singaporeans embracing the online space, traditional media continues to dominate marketing spend, in part due to the lack of fragmentation among local media.
Inevitably, the focus falls onto trends and how they can best participate and leverage current and upcoming ones. Almost always, these trends veer towards the digital sphere. Digital media is inherent in the lives of Singaporeans—natives of the city state outrank the global average in terms of digital activities, such as social networking, online shopping and instant messaging. The average Singaporean owns 1.5 mobile connections, and 3.3 million are active mobile social users.
Yet it is also important to note that Singapore also continues to be an anomaly; despite wholly embracing the online space, traditional media continues to dominate marketing spend. The relative lack of fragmentation of local media also goes a long way toward explaining this behaviour.
Noticable trends that are fast becoming the de facto go-to for many brands and agencies encompass cross-screen channels (method of engagement), narrative instead of content marketing, visual and experiential storytelling, and the integration of new technology into the consumption of content.
Engagement via mobile devices is not new, either. However, there is a marked increase in the proportion of content and brand experiences that are being accessed on mobile devices. In fact, 58 percent of Singaporeans use mobile messengers (such as Whatsapp or WeChat), 42 percent watch videos on mobile, 38 percent use mobile banking, and 3.2 million access Facebook on-the-go through mobile.
Additionally, consider the landscape with regard to device ownership, where 88 percent of Singaporean adults own smartphones, 71 percent own a laptop or desktop, and 42 percent own a tablet device. This means that there are ample opportunities for brands to be mindful of multi-screen storytelling.
With such a large number of Singaporeans owning multiple devices, it is time to consider the best way to tell a consistent story across the spectrum. Take Facebook as an example: 25 percent of Singaporeans on Facebook browse their newsfeeds while watching television. This is further enabled by tools such as Canvas and Facebook Carousel, which were created to enhance the mobile experience.
Social is also becoming a much more refined and targeted tool. As opposed to a wide net, it is becoming evident that performance is typically better when social is utilised to address specific audiences with tailored messages. Want to tap on mothers in Singapore? Facebook is the way to go. Singaporean mums trump all other demographic groups in terms of time spent on Facebook. Mums also invest more time on the social media platform than all other media activities.
Taking a look at what brands spend on—digital versus traditional—sees traditional platforms still taking a large slice of the advertising pie with digital on a steady rise year-on-year. Digital channels have really proven their worth and value in the area of product discovery, with platforms such as websites and apps leading the pack.
This article would be remiss if it overlooked how content marketing has evolved and the trends dominating its execution. Marketing executives and brands alike highlight content marketing as the marketing activity with the most substantial impact in 2016. This corresponds with social platforms offering new publishing options, such as Facebook’s Instant Articles and Canvas.
However, content marketing will also soon reach its saturation point and become a hygiene factor in the marketing initiative portfolios of many brands. This has led to a drastic uptick in the type of content being produced, most noticably the creation of visual content such as videos and gifs. Visual content is gaining momentum on a global level with viral content factories such as Buzzfeed. Video also happens to be the most popular and well received mobile ad format, commanding higher eCPMs.
And this leads us to the emergence of interactive content. Consumers are looking for content that they can interact with. This coincides with the recent launch of Oculus rift, as well as 360 videos on Facebook and YouTube. When it comes to content, Singaporeans generally respond well to family-oriented, value-oriented, real-life and humorous messages. It is important to note that due to Singapore's unique cultural make-up and subscription to meritocratic/Confucianism values, campaigns should be well-grounded in cultural relevance in order to resonate with the local audience.
Looking ahead, brands have also begun exploring and demanding several new methods. These include personalised, cross-channel experiences, as well as other ways to deliver immersive brand experiences. Indeed, with the continued rise of the digital sphere and the ever-increasing demand for quality content and experiences in Singapore, it is imperative that brands and agencies capitalise on the demands and gaps that exist within the market in order to fully optimise their spending.
Andrea Conyard is group managing director at Havas Worldwide