Text: Rose Tsou, head of international, Verizon Media
If there’s one thing we know for certain, it is that consumer behaviour is evolving at the pace of technology in South East Asia (SEA), a region whose mobile economy has outpaced China’s. Consumers here are setting the agenda for marketers who are tailoring their response in 2020 to address the needs and passions of South East Asians. Brands are rethinking how to align with customers’ intentions, to create experiences that attract the attention of SEA’s mobile-first, digitally savvy consumers. Based on emerging customer preferences in the region, these are some of the trends I see setting the trajectory for the market in 2020.
Content + commerce is key for consumers and publishers
To create meaningful, relevant experiences for consumers here, brands will have to serve them experiences that are helpful in the moment and in context. As consumers’ media consumption evolves in SEA, how they discover, engage with and transact goods and services is transforming. In this new landscape, media companies need to respond to opportunities like uncovering the synergy between commerce and content, to drive growth. For premium publishers, this is a fast emerging — still largely untapped — opportunity that can fit into their existing business. Users are looking for both information and inspiration, each being a key step in the customer journey. Shoppable videos and ads, integrated in the right context can create a seamless experience for users. In 2020, we expect more publishers to integrate commerce across content through native and shoppable ads, as well as other shoppable content programs. In 2019, live stream e-commerce and ‘shoppertainment’ became buzzwords in SEA as brands innovated to offer an integrated shopping experience to consumers. In 2020, we see publishers taking an even bigger step to explore the complete gamut of consumer engagement — from experiential marketing to live events, games, immersive experiences, betting on content and commerce to unlock new streams of revenue.
Trusted content is king
According to an Ipsos survey in Singapore, 55 per cent of respondents admitted to being duped by ‘fake news.’ Now more than ever, consumers’ concerns around data privacy, false information and fake news are developing deeper implications for advertisers. Consumers are increasingly looking for content and experiences they can trust and brands they can rely on. In our news consumption studies, half of consumers surveyed said they chose news sources based on credibility alone, and that they liked brands that advertised on trusted sites. On the flip side, almost 40% of consumers had a negative perception of a brand that advertised near offensive content. With brand safety being top of mind for advertisers, this is both a challenge and an opportunity. Engaging with consumers on credible news sites presents an avenue for brands to generate positive sentiment. I believe this will be the year of consumer ‘Trust and Choice,’ when marketers will have to offer choices based on credibility and transparency, to earn and keep consumers’ trust.
The future of native advertising is evolving
With mobile buying becoming the norm in SEA, the demand for mobile native ads is accelerating. No surprise there, given that native and mobile are such a natural fit. Non-intrusive on a tiny screen, native ads can still deliver big gains. Our research shows that when content looks more natural on the page on mobile, overall page engagement increases significantly. This year, the power of mobile native advertising will be turbocharged as 5G brings new possibilities. Brands will be able to deliver more immersive, exciting and user-friendly experiences streamed in real-time and at scale with 5G coming to the region. We are already seeing marketers investing in emerging, immersive native ad formats like augmented reality (AR), with innovations like a smoother user interface, adjustable overlays, and smartphone camera changes attracting brand interest. Research has also reinforced the ‘impact’ potential of AR — what is stored, or encoded into memory, is 70% higher for AR experiences. That’s something advertisers will be tapping into, as they connect with consumers through AR native ads in 2020.
Emerging digital marketing channels hold promise for brands
Consumers in SEA are accelerating new consumption trends, especially when it comes to how and where they spend their time. Video streaming is growing fast here, even as time spent on traditional TV continues to fall. In 2020, we expect more brands to leverage the robust targeting opportunities of Connected TV (or CTV), which brings the precision of programmatic to TV advertising. It has been proven to significantly outpace ads on other platforms, especially in terms of impressions and completion rate. The popularity of streaming audio is also on the rise in the region, with streaming audio listeners showing high engagement and attention. We are increasingly seeing brands explore audio ad formats that can deliver a personalised ad experience to these listeners, a trend that will only grow in 2020. SEA is also a growth region for digital out-of-home, another contextually-relevant channel we see marketers actively considering, to reach consumers while on the go and in the moment. Programmatic DOOH (pDOOH) is unlocking data-driven advantages, targeting and measurement capabilities, which will make this a highly effective channel for advertisers in 2020.
The need for transparency is changing programmatic
Programmatic will take a much larger piece of the pie this year, accounting for a 36% share of APAC’s overall market for digital and video ads, according to the Boston Consulting Group. With the rise in programmatic advertising across SEA, marketers are taking a closer look at how to boost the effectiveness of their campaigns. In doing so, they are calling for more transparency from programmatic platforms and exchanges. Advertisers are seeking deeper and more granular insights into campaign performance and media quality. Increasing transparency within the programmatic ecosystem will be vital to the success of programmatic in the region. DSPs will have to bring customers deeper insights into programmatic supply and performance, to understand how and where to best allocate budgets and in turn shaping campaign strategy. This year, we will see open exchange transactions declining, with greater growth in premium programmatic marketplaces that are viewed as more trusted and transparent by advertisers.
If 2019 was a year of evolution and transition for digital advertising, 2020 will be about moving into new growth areas, backed by technological innovation, to empower audiences in the region with more choice, value and convenience.