Staff Writer
May 31, 2022

Full stream ahead: How brands can capture consumer attention

As changing audience viewing habits give rise to a booming over-the-top video market in Asia, brands have new opportunities to make an impression. A panel from Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and The Trade Desk shared their insights on how marketers can find and reach their target audiences.

From L-R: A Campaign360 panel featuring Campaign Asia-Pacific’s managing director Atifa Silk, Dennis Perez, integrated marketing & commerce lead, Unilever Beauty & Wellbeing Southeast Asia, Enshe Manto, APAC consumer experience director, Johnson & Johnson; and Mitch Waters, senior vice president, The Trade Desk
From L-R: A Campaign360 panel featuring Campaign Asia-Pacific’s managing director Atifa Silk, Dennis Perez, integrated marketing & commerce lead, Unilever Beauty & Wellbeing Southeast Asia, Enshe Manto, APAC consumer experience director, Johnson & Johnson; and Mitch Waters, senior vice president, The Trade Desk
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Advertising has experienced a revolutionary shift as consumers journey from classic television to connected TV and over-the-top (OTT) outlets. As the future of TV evolves, the traditional one-way interaction that brands had with consumers has moved to a more creative, multi-channel, multi-impression engagement approach.

To help understand viewership trends, and how marketers and advertisers are now able to zero in on their desired target audiences, here are highlights from a Campaign360 panel featuring Mitch Waters, senior vice president, The Trade Desk; Dennis Perez, integrated marketing & commerce lead, Unilever Beauty & Wellbeing Southeast Asia; and Enshe Manto, APAC consumer experience director, Johnson & Johnson, moderated by Campaign Asia-Pacific’s managing director Atifa Silk.

The rise of OTT

In the 1950s, when TVs started to take their place in living rooms across the world, each market had just a handful of channels with similar content. Compare that to the endless stream of content that video streaming provides for consumers, not to mention the improvements in quality. With OTT streaming, the days of traditional scheduled programming with mass commercials have made way for a new era of professionally-produced TV content streamed on demand.

Mitch Waters, senior vice president, The Trade Desk

Younger viewers are driving OTT’s growth, which has accelerated because of the pandemic, says The Trade Desk’s Mitch Waters. One in three viewers in Southeast Asia stream OTT monthly, according to a recent study by The Trade Desk in collaboration with Kantar, while more than 116 million of those viewers embrace ad-funded content.

Says Waters: “44 percent of OTT viewers regionally are Gen Z or Millennials, aged 16-34. What’s more, they’re not just early adopters: these young audiences are more likely to be heavy users, consuming more than four hours of OTT content daily. That makes OTT an ideal channel for brands looking to reach and build relationships with a younger audience across multiple platforms, ranging from mobile phones to Smart TVs.”

Defining moments

As viewers continue to convert to OTT — 50 percent view their favourite shows there while 22 percent of OTT viewers no longer watch traditional TV at all — smart advertisers are allocating more of their budgets and resources towards these platforms, says Johnson & Johnson’s Enshe Manto. “Consumers are in the driver’s seat, watching what they want, when and how they want to watch it,” she says. “Consequently, one of the biggest challenges for brands is to find and reach their target audiences so the messaging has a chance to gain real traction and see real results.”

Dennis Perez, integrated marketing & commerce lead, Unilever Beauty & Wellbeing Southeast Asia

As Unilever’s Dennis Perez points out, the diverse range of cultures, income levels and languages in the Asia-Pacific region present a big challenge for brands. “In OTT, people are following quality content. The big players, such as Netflix, Disney+ and HBO,” he says, “feature banner content that audiences gravitate towards, though regional content providers offer more personalised niche viewing. Marketers have to understand why consumers use a particular platform, what their interests are and what resonates with them and then take a conceptual approach — we have to move from classic storytelling to data driven contextual story making. When a brand is associated with positive content then the natural desire of consumers is to be associated with the brand.”

Perez cites the example of how Unilever works in the Philippines with video streaming service Viu, which specialises in Korean content. “We used data to target a specific moment in one Korean drama series where the main character is in a position of empowerment. We then layered that moment with a contextual ad, in this case for hair care product Sunsilk. The result was effective because our brand message is organic, not interruptive.”

Swimming upstream

Indeed, the effort marketing puts into building a narrative and where they present it is key to communicating a brand’s values. That said, optimising campaigns toward the most valuable viewers is still challenging in Asia’s fragmented markets. “The large number of traditional and OTT platforms brands can choose from,” says Manto, “makes the process of strategic media buying confusing and complex. The situation will improve and the momentum will increase only when the market begins to consolidate, as it already has in India with the Disney+ acquisition of Hotstar.”

Enshe Manto, APAC consumer experience director, Johnson & Johnson

With video streaming titans Disney+ and Netflix embracing a new model of ad-supported lower-price subscription, industry consolidation is not far away. “Given market dynamics and subscriber growth in Asia’s emerging markets,” says Waters, “where cost sensitivity is a factor coupled with a tradition of supplementing free content with ads, this shift is no surprise. It will add scale, unity and the benefits of a more granular version of contextual targeting to the OTT ecosystem.”

For marketers and advertisers, these are exciting times. “The tipping point is not far away, I’d bet that major changes will happen in next 24 months,” says Manto. “As advertisers and marketers, with our ability to see first the coming disruption in the industry, we can utilise it practically and strategically to get a better deal financially, gain untapped new entry and find new consumers.”

In this brave new world, Manto adds, “the best marketers will change their title from ‘brand manager’ to ‘brand creator’ — they’ll stop outsourcing their creativity to agencies and put themselves in the driver’s seat.”

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