R3's report exploring the world’s best technology-driven marketing approaches, the AdTech 40, features 40 case studies, of which 12 (30 percent) come from Asia.
R3 examined trends in ad and marketing technology in an effort to identify digital best practices, judging the cases on four criteria: proven on top brands, proven on innovation, proven through recognition, and most importantly, proven on results. The APAC-led cases include examples Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Uniqlo and MasterCard.
Through the process, R3 identified five key findings on ad tech trends in APAC. Here are those findings, in R3's own words.
1. Tech drives integration in APAC
The rise of ad tech has been a big factor in the changing dynamics of client/agency relationships and the massive shift toward integration. Clients are demanding digitally savvy agencies, and not only are agencies having to beef up their own digital chops, they are also increasingly having to work with other agencies and vendors to deliver on client demands. In AdTech 40, we see some of the best examples of integration between clients and agencies, agencies and tech vendors, and agencies with other agencies coming from the APAC case studies. A prime example would be MasterCard’s Digital and eCommerce Engine, a global initiative led out of APAC, which is a collaboration between several agencies and tech vendors that drove a 16 percent lift in GDV across the markets.
2. Ad tech flourishes in China’s unique ecosystem
Anyone who has worked in or with China can tell you, almost all of the major tech players of the West, and even from other APAC countries, don’t exist in China. However, China’s digital landscape has taken on a life of its own; it’s not lagging behind the rest of the world. Quite the opposite, actually. Major platforms unique to China, WeChat in particular, are pushing brands to the forefront of tech-driven marketing. China has almost 700 million people registered on social media, and brands like Coca-Cola are using that to their advantage. Coca-Cola’s “Lyric Coke” took advantage of both WeChat’s QR code technology and Chinese youths’ social media habits to increase summer sales by 10 percent when compared to the previous year.
3. Auto brands take the lead
Auto is a leading category in tech, and almost half of the automotive case studies in AdTech 40 were led out of APAC, while the other half were global initiatives that covered APAC markets. This is no doubt driven in part by the fact that China is the world’s largest car market, and Asia is home to a growing population of young, tech savvy millennials looking to purchase a car for the first time. With some of the largest marketing budgets in the world, auto brands constantly have to innovate and integrate the latest technologies into their vehicles, it makes sense that their marketing approaches would follow suit. For example, in Australia, Chevrolet created a virtual reality test drive to show off the vehicle’s capabilities at motor shows, while in China, Mini partnered with Uber in a collaborative campaign that led to a 5 percent sales growth in Q1 2015 for the car brand.
4. APAC consumers demand engagement
The AdTech 40 case studies are broken down into four categories—engagement, acquisition, targeting and performance—and 50 percent of the winners in APAC leveraged tech to increase engagement with consumers. Feeling connected to a brand is very important to APAC consumers, who often seek out an interactive experience and generally enjoy engaging with their favorite brands through social media or attending outdoor events. Creating this type of experience doesn’t necessarily mean a massive initial investment to drive business and ROI. Uniqlo in Australia created an engaging experience to drive t-shirt sales, using a brainwave scanner to show consumers what shirt matched their mood, that generated over 20 million PR impressions, 2 million social impressions, and over 35,000 engagements throughout the course of the campaign.
5. A true mobile-first market
2016 has been dubbed by many as “the year of mobile,” and driven by booming smartphone penetration rates and social media users, APAC is leading the way in becoming a true mobile-first market. Brands in APAC are using social as an innovation space and leading in areas like m-commerce and user-generated content, which is evident by the fact that every winning case except one in APAC had some type of mobile component. Whether it’s Budweiser’s Megahit WeChat campaign in China or Network Seven’s “The Big Adventure” mobile app in Australia, brands are taking advantage of consumers’ smartphone addictions and cross-screen tendencies. The Chinese yogurt brand, Yili Meiyitian, integrated its mobile campaign seamlessly into consumers’ daily lives by installing health monitoring tech on commuter buses in Beijing and having the health-check data sent to the commuters’ phones. The campaign drove Yili’s brand rating past its competitors in terms of both innovation and social responsibility, and garnered over 3 million shares on WeChat.
APAC is definitely as the forefront when it comes to integrating tech and digital into a marketing campaign to leverage business results. "It's clear that marketers and agencies in Asia Pacific have the unique ecosystem and opportunity to do world leading work,” said Greg Paull, R3 principal. “We look forward to seeing more and more."