The first local advertiser to launch with InSkin Media (ISM) was One2Free, whose ad went live on Apple Daily on 10 April. This was booked by Tan Rahman, head of digital at OMD Hong Kong, who was a strong supporter of ISM's launch. Estee Lauder was the second.
A pull factor for ISM's launch was how agency buyers, such as Rahman, are becoming more savvy and beginning to question the validity of the results they get at the end of digital campaigns.
Lodhia, commercial manager at Inskin Media Asia, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that compared with existing ad formats in the Hong Kong market, ISM's ad formats are less intrusive and do not disrupt the user.
The HK digital market is cluttered with ad formats which drive accidental interactions, she said. "Often, people get confused when an advert overlays the whole publisher page".
ISM's ad server allows advertisers and agencies to be able to track post-click dwell times, which help determine real interactions and prove considered clicks, said Lodhia.
From an online branding perspective, the focus needs to be taken away from measuring performance purely on clicks and placed more squarely on deeper levels of engagement, she said.
The ultimate challenge publishers face is delivering a good user experience while still monetising their content for advertising revenue. "This balance should be at the heart of any digital strategy," she said.
ISM's video format remains subtly visible in the eyeline of users for the duration of the video, as opposed to disruptive pre-roll ads, allowing them to interact with the advertiser in their own time and on their own terms.
Upon clicking, the advertiser's video is paused and an expandable ad loads where a bespoke minisite is linked. Once the user closes the expandable ad, the publisher page returns, with the video resuming from where it was paused.
"Delivering a less intrusive experience reflects well on [both] the publisher and the advertiser," she said.
Apart from Apple Daily, on.cc, Elle and Finet have also signed on as publisher partners. HK is considered a gateway to Asia for ISM, which plans to venture to Singapore early next year, followed by Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea, Philippines, Japan, and China.
According to Lodhia, Hong Kong is ideal as its online video penetration is one of the highest in the world and also small enough for the company as a matter of trial to build case studies.
"ISM in a way challenges the current mindset of the HK advertising client," she said. "Media plans are still dominated by press and TV here; and despite being aware of the issue of accidental clicks, the market is still sadly judging the performance on this."
To this point, the local digital scene is still an emerging one compared to the UK. The closest competitor in the market would be Pixel Media, according to ISM.
But Kevin Huang, CEO of Pixel Media disagreed. "I don't believe they are our competitor as Pixel Media (and our group of companies such as Adsfactor and Snap Mobile) is clearly a site representative and although we have our own in-house technology, we do not sell it to clients standalone without our media solutions".
Other ad-tech providers in the market are DoubleClick (owned by Google), Atlas Advertiser Suite (owned by Facebook) and MediaMind (owned by DG).
At present, Lodhia and Alex Au Yeung, ISM Asia’s technical project manager, run the Hong Kong office located in Quarry Bay. Additional sales roles are currently in recruitment.