Hong Kong will get its own chapter of the Interactive Advertising Bureau after close to three years of lobbying. It will be known as 'IAB Hong Kong powered by HKDMA', and is the 46th IAB licensee globally and the sixth in Asia.
In late 2014, with the intention of having an industry body to represent the interest of players in digital marketing and to accelerate the growth of the sector in Hong Kong, three senior individuals (Victor Cheng, vice president of sales at ComScore; Kevin Huang, CEO of Pixels; Dominic Allon, former Google HK MD) made initial attempts to establish IAB HK independently, without knowledge of the other parties doing so.
It was not until June 2015 that the three connected with one another and decided to collectively lobby the IAB.
An IAB license had been awarded to China in February 2014, with the remit covering Hong Kong even though the mainland's digital advertising standards, measurements, metrics and practices are not suitable for Hong Kong.
Since a separate license for Hong Kong was not available at that time, the trio, getting support from Facebook, Next Digital, Oath (formerly Yahoo), and South China Morning Post, went ahead and launched the Digital Marketing Association of Hong Kong (HKDMA) in October 2016.
In the third quarter of 2017, the bureau formally gave the go-ahead for IAB Hong Kong after HKDMA continued to make the case for Hong Kong to align with the moniker of a globally recognised association.
"The decision to award HKDMA the license was primarily due to quality work we have done to promote digital marketing in Hong Kong," said Cecilia Chan, executive director of HKDMA. The eventual coupling of the IAB and HKDMA brands reflect the localisation needed to suit domestic marketplace needs, she added.
All of the 80-plus HKDMA corporate members—comprising companies on both the buying and selling side—will now be converted to members of the newly IAB-affiliated trade organisation. PwC is a supporting partner. There are no additional financial obligations beyond the standard membership fee of HK$12,000 (US$1534) per year. All existing and new members will be entitled to local benefits plus global resources such as IAB training and certification, said Chan, who wants HK brands to "confidently invest in digital advertising".
In Hong Kong, talent is the most critical issue in digital marketing circles, according to Pixels' Huang, as opposed to technical standards and metrics—a more severe issue in neighbouring China. "We haven't tackled the standards issue, such as ad sizes, locally as much as talent because Hong Kong players have already been informally following US standards, for example on viewability. Brand safety and ad fraud are also not big problems in Hong Kong," he told Campaign.
"Talent is priority. In almost every single meeting I've had with agencies and clients, talent recruitment, training, certification is the most urgent. It's an everyday issue for us. It's hard to get talent at the middle management level, as in Hong Kong it's the same 500-odd pool of people to choose from. And at the junior level, young graduates don't even register digital marketing as a potential career in their minds."
To this end, HKDMA had launched a job board last month to help member companies recruit talent, as well as conducted 11 events and training sessions on topics ranging from mobile, programmatic, social, and big data during 2017.
“With digital advertising revenues expected to surpass US$1 billion in 2018, Hong Kong represents an important growth market for the global digital advertising industry,” commented Dave Grimaldi, executive vice president of public policy at IAB in a press release.
Other IAB chapters in Asia Pacific are: