In a year when ‘integration’ and ‘creative’ have been two of the most crucial words for China’s marcomms industry, one company appears to have come in ahead of the curve on both fronts.
LEO Digital Network (LDN) had a glittering run at Campaign’s Agency Year of the Awards 2019, bagging a total of four gongs, firmly cementing the company’s status as one of China’s most prominent A-share listed digital agency networks. The awards include two Golds for Greater China Digital Agency of the Year and China Digital Agency of the Year, and a Bronze for Greater China Integrated Marketing Agency of the Year. LDN’s wholly-owned subsidiary, arkr GROUP, brought home the 4th Bronze for Greater China Social Media Agency of the Year.
Increasingly, LDN finds its business anchored by two key approaches: the integration and lengthening of its upstream (anything from consulting and product R&D to business-model innovation) and downstream marketing (any type of effort to promote the product); and the strengthening of its creative capabilities.
The two of course, are intertwined. Integration allows the company to break down silos between departments, leading to more solid data sets, which in turn allows it to execute all-encompassing creative campaigns that accurately targets different market segments.
LDN calls this strategy ‘big creative’. In China, creativity isn’t confined to an ad or a single piece of content, it is also about the ability to integrate creative marketing with a creative way of doing business. LDN’s vision of big creative encompasses ads, packaging design, business design and content marketing. Its creative unit, Amber China, isn’t focused solely on pushing out a creative ad, but on overall ‘big creative’ output.
Integration and ‘big creative’ have also come on the back of rise of influential social ecommerce platforms. Whereas a brand might be selling a few units of a product in a brick-and-mortar store, they might be able to—with the help of KOLs and KOCs, be able to sell 10,000 units a day. This has urged advertisers to create different ads targeting different audiences. Things also change quickly in China’s social ecommerce scene. Whereas you might be pushing out content on Weibo yesterday, today, it’s Wechat and Little Red Book. And that’s where an integrated data pool comes in—with good data, brands can adapt quickly to changing consumer habits.
LDN is well-placed to respond to these industry changes, thanks also in part to its understanding of the interdependent relationship between content and media.
The China short video market has also undergone an explosion in the last few years. The number of short video subscribers in China has reached 648 million with a 78.2% engagement rate—nearly 80% of the country’s netizens. In response to that, the company has invested heavily in the area and now enjoys close collaborative relationships with the likes of Tiktok (from Toutiao), Taobao’s live-streaming platform and Kuaishou, a short video mobile platform, and are able to help clients effectively push content out on these platforms. In the first half of 2019, LDN clocked over RMB 2000 million collaboration volume to become Toutiao’s top agency. Its business revenue also increased by more than 200% on Kuaishou.
Naturally, content isn't only about the content itself, but how that content is being consumed. To that end, LDN is always thinking of ways to improve the customer journey, and supporting companies who share the same vision. It’s little wonder then, that LDN has already scooped top industry honours, including, most recently, at the Digital Media Awards, Agency of the Year, London International Awards, D&AD and Cannes. "These honours signify the priority we place on quality," say Zheng. "We’re focused on quality content because we believe that it benefits consumers and advertisers more in the long run."