This category celebrates individuals who have conquered the technicalities and intricacies of a single specialist area, and are thus influential due to their depth of knowledge. They proved their commitment by delving into specific areas of expertise, getting the job done with excellence. Their focus runs the gamut: from programmatic to digital creativity, creative production to data mining.
|Title:||Chief technology officer|
|Company:||VeryStar-Linked by Isobar|
“Chen’s innovative thinking and in-depth understanding of client needs enables him to develop breakthrough, cost-effective solutions.” – Elton Huang, IT senior director, Yum China
In the past year, Chen Jianhao has led his team in the transformation of VeryStar towards AI integration, helping to service their clients with better precision. This is in response to rapid changes in the market environment and subsequent shifts in customer expectations. A notable highlight is Chen’s recent work for Starbucks, wherein his team successfully assisted the brand in changing WeChat gift giving habits from red envelopes to coffee, translating to a significant increase in sales.
Chen is currently taking the campaign to new heights via a soon-to-be-launched payment component with one of China's tech giants. Chen’s ability to rethink different platform features, product values and user experiences can be credited to his 19 years of experience in software innovation. Not surprisingly, he has been recognised as one of the most valuable O2O consultants in the retail sector by Starbucks, SPG, KFC and Pizza Hut alike.
|Title:||Professional partner & group vice president|
|Company:||Focus Media Group|
“Chen Peng’s business skills are outstanding, and he has strong resistance to pressure. He has a deep attachment to his work, and it is a persistent one.” – Cindy Chen, partner & chief strategy officer, Focus Media
With the aim of providing multi-directional and targeted precision services to customers with different levels and diverse needs, group vice president Peng Chen has, in the past year, fine-tuned Focus Media’s services in a number of respects. He led the upgrade of a digital intelligence product line to include iBeacon and facial recognition technology. He also led the development of a plan to integrate an ecommerce system into Focus Media resources, in order to improve online and offline customer traffic for the largest lift media provider in China.
Chen also introduced a real-time rating system for the lift TV platform, based on ecommerce shopping records from different buildings. Furthering their business, Peng’s big data projects involve group search cloud systems, ecommerce cloud systems, and consumer O2O consumption data trajectories.
|Title:||Tribal Worldwide managing director|
“When it comes to digital marketing and customer needs, Allen and his team are able to propose and implement innovative and top-notch brand marketing solutions.” – Cao Xiaomin, director of global marketing, Alibaba
With over 20 years of experience across a wide range of digital marketing areas, Allen Wang has garnered extensive expertise in business development, strategic planning, ecommerce, social media and, in particular, customer relationship management. In the past, he has demonstrated the ability to digitise traditional CRM companies by streamlining personnel and introducing digital socialisation into existing strategy, all towards building groundbreaking digital marketing plans for clients.
When Wang joined DDB China as managing director of Tribal Worldwide, he was tasked with rebuilding the company’s digital marketing department. In response, he established a 20-person team of digital talents aimed at providing creative and comprehensive digital marketing solutions and services in CRM, social media, and ecommerce. Under his leadership, the company welcomed new clients such as Cisco, Hennessy, Costa Cruises, Volkswagen, Wrigley, Polestar, Maxfactor, Lidl, and Ecostore.
|Title:||ecommerce data & intelligence director|
“Nora is driving the amazing analytic and business intelligence-led work the GroupM ecommerce team are doing, but her knowledge and expertise goes well beyond data.” – Christian Solomon, chief digital officer, MediaCom China
In the past year, Nora Zhang has accomplished much on GroupM China’s ecommerce front. She helped develop the company’s capabilities in ecommerce strategy towards business expansion, with 30 new brands signing on as customers. This success is also reflected in the company’s ecommerce team which, prior to Zhang joining GroupM, had little to no strategic insight. With her guidance, the team has matured into a group of 90 young, energetic members capable of handling five to 10 strategic consulting projects.
During the second half of 2017, Zhang also actively promoted the integration of big data into the company’s ecommerce expansion. In particular, she assisted GroupM in becoming one of the first service providers, and the only 4A company, to be part of Alibaba’s data bank certification. She also assisted in the company’s integration of ecommerce operations and brand strategy. This involved the extraction of ecommerce insight from more than 50 brands.
“From planning to product to partnerships to pitching, Lawrence moves nimbly and quickly to adapt to both changing internal requirements and external landscapes.” – Tsuyoshi Suganami, president, Amplifi China & CEO, Dentsu Media Greater China.
Long seen as an early adopter of programmatic buying in China, Wan has a knack for launching digital products and practices from scratch, transforming digital marketing industries and ecosystems along the way. Exemplary of this are his continued efforts to optimise and adapt to China’s complex and fast-evolving programmatic environment.
In particular, Wan has forged a strategic partnership with iFLYTEK, an artificial intelligence and voice-recognition tech giant, to introduce a completely new data management platform, AAC 2.0. Exclusively A.I.-powered, this product provides a centralised point for tapping into millions of unique user IDs for richer insight and better ad targeting. At the same time, Wan also launched an industry-first ad verification solution capable of pre-bid blocking, real-time detection and post-bid analysis. With Wan’s pioneering efforts, it’s not surprising that 2017 saw programmatic spending growth of 96 percent over 2016, crowning Amnet China as a well-established programmatic ad powerhouse.
|Title:||Co-founder, COO and CTO|
“Their one-stop cross-channel targeting solution, iAccess, has proven to be an asset by helping us increase our client’s efficiencies, as well as achieving their online sales objectives in China.” – Samantha Pearlson, head of Neo, [email protected] Singapore
One might praise iClick co-founder, Jian Tang, for the company’s recent Nasdaq IPO in December 2017, however, he views this success not as their ultimate goal, but as a launch point for a new, long-term journey towards improving the company’s online marketing technology platform. His view stems from his vision of iClick not as a business in compliance with, but predicated on, the market. Tang strongly believes that customer needs are constantly changing in response to technological changes. He wants iClick to be able to predict these needs and develop corresponding products, making their platform more comprehensive in the process.
To that end, Tang envisions their journey as three paths: the first leverages artificial intelligence and big data technology; the second improves platform integration to provide customers with a one-stop solution; and the third vertically integrates their platform across different industries to provide more targeted solutions. This will require iClick to continue to invest in their growing team, upgrade their data models and technologies, and forge data partnerships for the future. Tang is the driving force behind these goals.
|Title:||General Manager Beijing|
“Michelle has a profound understanding of China’s WeChat ecosystem. She is able to translate this knowledge into practical advice based on the client’s business context.” – Elvina Dong, head of media relations, China and North Asia, Shell China
With extremely high standards that often surpass client expectations, Michelle Yan is known for her relentless push for excellence. Her ability to thoroughly understand her clients’ business challenges and draw keen insights from her research enable her to offer new and original, yet extremely tailored, strategies that are produced and worked out in meticulous detail. Not surprisingly, Yan has managed to retain clients such as Singapore Airlines and Dubai Tourism for Resonance, as well as realise a 78 percent win rate on pitches last year, namely with Resorts World Sentosa, the Empire State Building, Star Alliance and Aman Resorts.
A notable achievement is Yan’s work for Shell. She was personally tasked to create the building blocks for her client to become a digitally led communicator. This meant an overhaul of the company’s full suite of social media accounts, rewriting their approach to social media in China, and developing highly detailed guidelines on how to create, handle and execute social media for Shell agencies across all business units.
|Title:||Chief creative officer|
“Cheelip is very engaged and takes great ownership of his work, which is a rarity among ECDs or CCOs in today’s ad agency system. Results were some of the highest performing campaigns for the brand in China.” – Aneek Ahmed, brand planning director, The Coca Cola Company
Cheelip Ong has a track record of transforming agencies into digital powerhouses, as evidenced by his award-winning work for JD.com, and more recently with MullenLowe China. When he assumed the role of chief creative officer in late 2016, he transformed his team from one with a traditional mindset of offering clients TVC or print ad campaigns to one that now drives digital-centric, hyper-bundled projects.
By encouraging a borderless working environment, Ong integrated the Group’s creative, technology and social content departments into one unified department that consists of various cross-disciplinary talents. Under his guidance, creatives work alongside a planning director, a media director, social media planners, content writers, and tech specialists. Together they collaborate on innovative client solutions that have won MullenLowe digital accounts and campaigns such as Knoor UFS, Dulux, Lufthansa, PGI, and Galaxy Macau. The work of Ong and his team has also earned MullenLowe China its first non-traditional advertising award at One Show 2017.
|Title:||Chief digital officer|
“Christian is one of the most outstanding digital leaders in China. Under his leadership, MediaCom won a number of prominent clients in 2017.” – Mickey Zhang, programmatic CEO, GroupM
A fast rider at MediaCom, Christian Solomon has used his digital prowess to create new leadership structures and score industry breakthroughs in China’s rapidly evolving landscape.
After logging over 18 years in the technology, media and marketing industries—12 in China alone—Solomon had a breakout year in 2017, when he was promoted to CDO. Some of his biggest contributions to the agency last year include setting up a 33-strong data- and performance-focussed team; pioneering a new search structure linking search, social and eCommerce; and sitting in the driver’s seat of many MediaCom wins that helped the company bring in US$500 million in new business and 17 new clients. He also developed the first agency-level partnership with Tencent in China, the Agency Business Partnership (ABP).
Solomon has also bolstered his reputation as a digital expert in China. He was selected as judge at Festival of Media Global Awards 2018 and presented on brand safety, ecommerce and marketing technology at a number of prestigious events, including the Tencent Mind Conference and Ad Tech Shanghai, while authoring several highly regarded whitepapers.
|Title:||Head of digital & eCommerce|
“Vanilla is great at communicating and connecting with the consumer. I believe in the next few years we’ll see even more from her.” – Wei-Chong Khor, APAC senior regional manager, group and content partnership, LVMH
Widely praised across Carat, Vanilla Qian has helped the company record tremendous growth by introducing new ways of looking at data solutions and innovation.
Since being appointed the digital lead for major accounts, Qian has grown the share of digital business from 15% of media investment to more than 80%. When Carat merged its strategic and digital planning teams, Vanilla took the lead, delivering 50% revenue growth in her accounts. Her work in upselling company-first digital projects brought in an additional US$23 million in revenue in one year alone, and a private direct buy (PDB) ad-serving tool she developed for Carat has increased annual profits by millions of dollars.
While playing a key role in changing the way clients approach media—particularly Pernod Ricard, whom she convinced to switch to programmatic digital media buying, a pioneering move that has exceeded KPIs—Vanilla has continued to be an active leader. She runs annual digital trend workshops and has helped in-house programmatic teams build long-term partnerships with China’s biggest data houses and publishers.
“Under Ming’s leadership, our Shanghai SEM business expanded by 20% and recorded a spectacular 300 percent increase in revenue in 2017.” – Patrick Xu, CEO of GroupM China & WPP China
With over 10 years of search and marketing experience, Xie Ming is one of the brightest minds exploring new opportunities as Chinese searching behaviour shifts from the web to vertical search engines such as Tmall, WeChat and Zhihu.
Ming entered the workforce in 2005 as a pioneer of search engine marketing in China. Since then, he has moved search marketing forward by expanding its reach across media and developing unique automation tools that offer more diverse solutions for GroupM’s clientele.
In 2017, Ming was tasked with creating a new SEO team in Shanghai. Before he had formed his team, he had won three new contracts; by the end of 2017, his team recorded 300% growth in total SEO revenue, leading a turnaround year for GroupM.
Ming has played a key role in automation, developing a highly sought-after model that monitors search activities on Baidu and estimates search investment. His work with GroupM’s build team on this model, bespoke search monitoring tools and consumer intent modelling speak to the skills that have earned him esteem among clients and partners alike.
“Aaron has a deep reservoir of talent and ambition. In 2017, he transformed our business and incubated eight different platforms.” – Jacky Han, marketing VP for YY.com
Nicknamed “the Young Marshal of Chinese advertising”, Aaron Zhang has quickly climbed the ranks in China’s digital marketing world thanks to his extraordinary foresight.
In 2009, when social marketing was in its early stages, he co-founded Arkr Group to help brands expand in China’s fast-growing digital world. The company has since become an industry force, boasting a staff of over 300 and clients that include PepsiCo, Adidas, Michelin and Standard Chartered. In 2014, Zhang negotiated the company’s merger with the Leo Digital Network (LDN), devising a radical profit-sharing model with return-on-investment guarantees.
Aaron has upturned 4A dominance in China by transforming Arkr from a social-only venture to a one-stop-shop for integrated solutions in B2B and B2C campaigns. Among his most notable achievements is an innovation lab he established called “Nil”. Through Nil, Aaron developed new service models that helped increase revenue by 35 percent in 2017. He also set up a business unit called Leo Interactive Entertainment to help LDN venture into film entertainment. That unit more than doubled the company’s income from 2014 to 2016, when it tallied US$63 million.
|Title:||General manager of eCommerce for Greater China|
“She has deep knowledge of the ecommerce industry in China. Her business acumen and ability to understand customer needs would be an asset for any company that wants to successfully run an online business in China.”– Andrea Mantovani, head of ecommerce, APAC, Moleskine
Over the past 15 years, Christine Wang has established a reputation for pushing boundaries in the ever-changing eCommerce world, finding new ways to deliver greater return on investment.
As general manager at Publicis Communications, Christine has channelled her penchant for creativity into successful campaigns for a number of leading international companies, including Nestlé and Procter & Gamble. Under Christine’s stewardship, Nestlé’s NAN brand saw sales grow 100% year-on-year. In charge of Publicis’ campaigns for Tmall, she created a Chinese New Year 2018 home appliances campaign that generated over 216 million page views. Christine’s work has helped Publicis double ecommerce revenue each year since 2015.
As operational costs soar, Christine has proven to be a problem solver as well, creating innovative solutions for clients with tighter budgets. For Moleskine, she doubled ecommerce sales by creating new experiences around limited-edition products.
Understanding that ecommerce is now a branding tool, she has used innovative techniques to help brands stand out from the crowd. For instance, she spearheaded Nestlé’s first livestreamed VR session on JD.com, generating over 130 million impressions in one campaign.
“I have never worked on projects so well-run, nor on a team so dedicated and upbeat, as the one I worked on with Niels.” – Chen Zhen, technical director, MediaMonks Shanghai
With a unique skillset, forged by extensive experience in digital production and business in both the Chinese and Western creative industries, Niels Monsieurs is taking digital production boutique MediaMonks to new heights.
Catering to the growing Chinese demand for high-end production work, Niels introduced the Amsterdam-headquartered MediaMonks to China in 2016, taking charge of the company’s ninth overseas branch. As executive producer, Niels has quickly established MediaMonks as a major player in the hyper-competitive Chinese digital space. He has led a number of standout productions for clients such as Ogilvy, AKQA and JWT, as well as iconic global brands Adidas, Nike, Google and Intel. That includes MediaMonks’ biggest project in 2016, “Intel: History Comes Alive”, a personalised Intel film that was recognised at awards ceremonies in China and abroad, such as Spikes Asia, FWA, Ciclope, Great Wall, China 4A and the One Show.
Over the past year, Niels has championed the need to embrace cutting-edge technology in advertising, specifically AR and VR, as a keynote speaker at events across Asia, including the Unity Vision VR/AR Summit.