Staff Writer
Feb 6, 2018

Finding fortune in China: One-on-one with Yoyo Ng

iClick Interactive's general manager, Hong Kong speaks on trends in 2018, the importance of leveraging video and social content, and bridging the Mainland border.

Finding fortune in China: One-on-one with Yoyo Ng
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With eight offices now operating across the globe, iClick Interactive is arguably the head honcho when it comes to penetrating the market in Mainland China.

Its tools in doing so are diverse. iAudience, iClick Interactive's audience identification solution, uses audience knowledge, keyword identification and competitive landscape mapping to deepen client engagement with their target audience. Its partner platform, iAccess, is a cross-channel audience targeting solution capable of working alone or in-hand with iAudience.

With Hong Kong’s mobile market set to soar in 2018 and the spotlight directly on China’s unprecedented digital evolution, Yoyo Ng, general manager of Hong Kong at iClick Interactive, has her work cut out for her in the year ahead. She sat down with Campaign Asia-Pacific to say her piece.

Campaign Asia-Pacific: As marketing transforms into a more data-driven industry, how are your tools keeping ahead of the curve and helping marketers better meet their objectives?

Yoyo Ng: The beauty of digital here is that everything is measurable. We help marketers put more towards planning and research, allowing them to engage with their audience in a more meaningful way.

So, iAudience is an audience identification tool that allows brand marketers to actually understand the market landscape, measure the brand’s position as opposed to competitors and grasp potential opportunities. The intelligence provides brand marketers with in-depth audience knowledge in a multi-dimensional manner – from demographics and geographies to psychographics to behavioural patterns, giving brands meaningful understanding of their target segments on what they do, what they like, and what they care about.

We also have iAccess, our cross-channel audience activation solution that provides marketers with a comprehensive suite of targeting and retargeting options to connect with their potential audience. Marketers can target based on gender, age, income level, geographic location, interests, device OS, and more. Marketers also have the flexibility to select their preferred content format, budgeting requirement, display frequency and time to reach this audience, and in brand-safe environments. 

Campaign: How can iAudience make brands and agencies more competitive? Is the goal to connect marketers with their desired audience, or to reveal new audiences entirely?

Yoyo: I believe it’s both. We help our brands to use relevant keywords to intuitively define their custom target segment. They can get to know how the market perceives their products and fine tune their promotional angle compared to other industry players. But, if we want to expand the prospects of a brand, we’re able to use ‘interest categories’ or other attributes in iAudience to help marketers to actually extend their reach beyond their existing audience.

Let’s say for example that right now, through first-party data, we’ve found Andrew as a prospect. With iAudience, we’re able to find Andrew 1, Andrew 2 and Andrew 3, audience lookalikes who share similar user attributes, characteristics and browsing behaviour. In short, they can readily size up their total accessible market opportunity and decide if it's right or big enough for them, whether they're planning a mass branding campaign that targets millions of users or a specific product launch that aims at a specific niche group.

Campaign: Based on your experience, what were Hong Kong marketers’ biggest challenges in adopting data-driven marketing in 2017?

Yoyo: I’d say three years back content was king. Social, SEO, even though you were driving traffic to your website, you needed great content to retain readers. No one wants a high bounce rate.

However, in the last couple of years, data has become equally important. Hong Kong marketers have to be sure their data is accurate.  This is easier said than done. Not only is it difficult to define what data to use for each campaign, it’s actually hard and pricey to ensure data quality and relevance in the first place. To address this problem, marketers can consider adopting a marketing intelligence tool that provides reliability and quality for further deployment.

Campaign: That being said, what are their key objectives and goals in 2018?

Yoyo: Producing video content, especially on mobile. Mobile ad spend is showing robust year over year growth, and Hong Kong consumers are getting increasingly used to shopping on mobile, it hence becomes a natural and convenient channel for sales conversion. 

Video ads as well as live-streaming videos are also worth trying. Our audience is now more intelligent and less patient. Young millennials and up-and-coming young adults from Generation Z, for example, simply don’t have time to check out every brand in the market. Video makes getting your message across much easier. Instead of explaining, you can show the audience in one minute, or even six- or seven-second clips.

Also, social is a priority. Consumers nowadays expect brands to directly communicate with them, and be original and authentic in their communications—especially younger generations. You need video to attract consumers, but after you’ve made that connection, how do you engage? So, video and social will be a winning combination in the coming year.

Also, with all the cool content out there, adopting a data-driven approach is key to make sure the pieces—on which marketers spent hours working on—are served to the right audience at the right moment.

Campaign: You’ve helped a number of well-established brands improve their awareness and reach in China. What would you say to small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) looking to enter the China market? Where is the potential?

Yoyo: SMBs have already recognised the power of digital communication when it comes to marketing to China. With a huge population, digital facilitates conversation with consumers and simplifies consumer targeting and brand engagement. We believe leveraging the popularity of KOLs, or “wang hong”, on social can be one of the ways for SMBs to engage and promote their products or services effectively to specific target audience groups.

Chinese users are always connected via mobile. SMBs can make good use of mobile, especially WeChat, to reach their target audiences, as it is omnipresent in China and already part of every Chinese user’s daily life. That’s why we have it as one of the premium targeting options on iAccess. 
 
Through the years we’ve helped a lot of Western clients to bridge the Mainland gap, primarily through our strong data assets of over 630 million active profiled Chinese users on our platform, as well as our strong partnerships with BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent).
 
Campaign: What’s your own forecast for 2018? What’s the next big thing for iClick?

Yoyo: I believe everything in the world will be connected eventually, and data and technology will be the driving forces making this happen. I hope to see a wider adoption of data and technology. First, among local marketers in Hong Kong, to automate the entire marketing process in a more efficient and effective manner. I believe we have all the support clients need when marketing to China as well.

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