Gabey Goh
Nov 13, 2015

CNBC ramps up to meet native content demand in Asia

SINGAPORE –Brands in Asia are increasingly looking toward doing native advertising and experiences in the form of events, large or small, says Max Raven, senior VP of international ad sales at CNBC.

Max Raven
Max Raven

Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific during a recent stopover in Singapore, Raven said that a key focus for the coming year is enabling the delivery and execution of such initiatives.

“Our focus on events and content, is where the demand is,” he added. “It is what Asian clients have said they want more of.”

Raven said that the types of clients CNBC has been working with in the APAC region has been exciting for the business, with technology companies, economic development agencies and brands from the Travel & Tourism sector dominating the list.

He pointed to a recent work the company conducted with the Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism for its ‘Wonderful Indonesia’ campaign to engage travellers through social media.

CNBC developed a social-media campaign that is running from 19 October to 29 November to boost and sustain excitement and interaction with travellers across multiple digital touchpoints that includes websites, Facebook and Instagram.

As part of the partnership, CNBC’s Creative Solutions team was also involved in producing a series of vignettes to highlight Indonesia’s attractions.

The social-media contest enables Indonesia Tourism to highlight destinations and activities to promote, under its existing campaign.

The organisation is also doing work with India’s Ministry of Commerce on a project around the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos next year.

“Davos is what we like to call our ‘Superbowl moment’ at CNBC,” said Raven. “We invest a lot of time and resources into it as it’s also a powerful platform to tell the CNBC story.”

He also pointed to the Asia Business Leaders Awards held last month, as another example of CNBC’s continuing focus on events.

“It’s our 14th awards and something I’m very proud of as I go out and talk about CNBC in the region,” he added. “With 10 big luminary partners, it’s a heavyweight C-suite event that leaders in Asia want to win at.”

Raven said that such events, in addition to smaller events and the native content that wraps around them, will be a key focus for the team moving forward.

Studio C re-launched

To help meet demand and better serve client needs, the organisation soft launched Studio C, its in-house content-creation agency during ad:tech London last month.

Raven said the 20-person team, headquartered in London, includes creative strategists, event experts, treatment specialists along with digital and production talent.

“We’re probably bigger than most media organisations with similar in-house units, especially with the production facilities we have in place,” said Raven. “The main focus is to consult with clients on what we’re experts at, which is reaching an affluent, aspirational audience in a business and finance news environment.”

Raven said that the organisation works in partnership with many agencies, and does do some direct work with clients, often in support of a larger campaign.

“Especially for native content, it’s very difficult for an outsider to produce the kind of work that we’d be able to in house,” he added.

Raven said that he would also be happy if the coming year saw the expansion CNBC’s current portfolio of brands in Asia to include more technology-related, travel and tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI) clients.

“Having more clients from these sectors will build on the great foundation we’ve already established,” he added.

There is also one more sector that Raven hopes CNBC will see more of: luxury.

“We probably have the wealthiest audience out there at the moment and already work with a few luxury brands such as Rolex,” he said. “But the opportunity in Asia is significant.”

Raven said that the organisation has done well so far, with offerings such as a programme called First Class, which showcases lifestyle, luxury and travel in Asia.

“It’s up to us to explore how we can develop that area better for our clients,” he added. “So that they can have an appropriate, safe and luxurious environment to access our amazing audience through.”

Raven points to the work print newspapers have done with branded or themed supplements as a benchmark.

“I really think about newspapers as best example of creating supplements,” he added. “I don’t think many of our news competitors, be it digital or broadcast, have done a good job of it but we might.”

Coordinating complexity

Straightforward ad placements next to content currently accounts for a “small percentage” of CNBC’s revenue, while declining to go into further detail, Raven added that native content and events dominate that mix.

“The majority of campaigns we have, have an element of either content creation or events creation and management,” he said.

Raven said that the approach of putting ads next to content is easily commoditised and the shift to other ways of serving advertisers is well under at CNBC and the rest of the industry.

“I love it,” he added. “It’s what I enjoy doing, it means your teams need to evolve, different thinking is needed, new training and people. And being experts at helping clients talk to our audiences puts us in great shape for the future.”

If there is one particular challenge, Raven said that all of the campaigns CNBC is currently producing for clients are high-touch endeavours, as opposed to traditional commercials, which is a straightforward mechanic.

“Creating a multitude of commercials, which is often the way native works best, combined with complex event delivery, plus retargeting of content off our own network aligned with clever brand partnerships—it’s complex,” he said.

Raven said it boils down to the very traditional solution of ensuring strategy, people and processes, are aligned.

“We’ve been doing it for a long time in a certain way,” he added. “Part of my job is to refocus the organisation to be able to do that for all clients, all the time.”

Asian ambitions

Raven, who stepped into his role in June, is highly optimistic about CNBC’s outlook in the region for the coming year.

The APAC operation has fared quite well this year, according to Raven, better than its EMEA operations.

“As a business we’ve had a really good year this year and that excites me,” he added. “Next year both APAC and EMEA are looking very positive, and will be in much better position than they were last year.”

According to Ipsos Affluent Survey Asia-Pacific, in October, CNBC recorded a reach of 81 million households in Asia Pacific.

Its audience comprise senior business executives and affluent investors with 63 per cent investors who own stocks, securities, bonds, forex, unit trusts, etc.

They are between 35 to 54 years old with 73 per cent of them having university degrees or higher. Compared to regular channel viewers, CNBC viewers are 2.5 times more likely to be C-suite and 38 per cent are business decision makers.

In terms of growth, CNBC has seen healthy growth across broadcast and digital, registering 6 per cent and 10 per cent year-on-year growth, respectively.


Source: CNBC

In a world of big mass media such as Google and Facebook, Raven believes a bright future awaits media organisations that remain focused.

“In the in the last six years, something has happened," he said. "Business and financial news has become ‘the news’,” he added. “Before 2008, it was a great vertical to be in but probably kept to itself.”

But this year alone, major events such as the Greek debt crisis, the possibility of the UK exiting the European Union along with the Chinese economic crisis, has sparked the appearance of a broader audience joining traditional business news consumers.

“Some of the recent numbers we’re seeing are really heartening,” said Raven. “We did a quick audience dip test on the Chinese Black Monday event that happened about three months ago in Singapore, and on that day our audience grew 14 times versus the average of other broader news networks—it’s a phenomenal number.”

Citing feedback from agencies and the GlobalWebIndex, Raven also claimed that the index shows CNBC on parity with a number of the general news outlets.

“So it’s heartening to talk about that audience story to our advertisers,” he said. “And it makes sense because business news is the story.”

 

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