HONG KONG - Campaign Asia-Pacific attended the marketing track of the Rise 2016 conference in Hong Kong, and emerged with this list of points worth remembering, curated from both the onstage sessions and offstage interviews.
Data access remains a barrier
The percentage of programmatic buying in China is still very small, said Grace Huang, founder of iPinyou, and the key barrier is data.
"Getting companies to release and share their data, like CRM data, they hold dear is very hard, but we tell them that data flow is critical, and has the potential for up to 10 times more conversions," she said.
The good news is, many data owners in the Chinese market are trying to monetise their data. She cited the example of Unionpay, which she said owns a lot of offline data but does not know how to use it meaningfully for marketing or ad-serving.
Another issue marketers overlook is the importance of not having preset target audiences, Huang said. She drew on an example whereby her team conducted cluster and correlation analysis based on the data tags of the audience for a nutrition brand. The team found that IT professionals, pregnant women and university students—all not part of the preset target—were also interested in the brand.
"The client was fascinated," she said, and used the revelation to serve different creative to the different targets.
Native advertising enables better "EX"
EX is a term apparently coined by Rob Fan, co-founder and CTO of Sharethrough, who explained it stood for "editorial experience". A better EX will help independent publishers to continue to make money, he said.
Media organisations need to be "rebooted", he added. "We can’t lose sight of the loss of independence of the publisher. The bigger picture is, without independence, every reporter is just a blogger. That world does not move humanity forward."
The future of monetisation for a publisher or media platform is not about getting people to subscribe again, whether through micro-payments or new subscription ideas, pointed out Lara Setrakian, CEO of NewsDeeply. "It's about being a conduit to the valuable audience, many of them influencers, you write for."
- Do not treat it as a third-world market
- Bring your A-game to the sophisticates
- Know that 'China speed' is faster than 'Silicon Valley speed'
- Prepare for disrupters of your business to appear at every turn
Injecting tech in stories is hard for big brands; vice versa for startups
There is a massive shift in storytelling formats with more technological avenues to tell stories, said Deirdre McGlashan, global chief digital officer at MediaCom. She gave an example of headset brand Bose injecting technology into its storytelling pretty naturally, given it is partly owned by MIT.
Bose worked with Spotify to identify sub-cultural music preferences that people did not expect of certain markets, like electronica in India. It then worked with Vice which is well-regarded in storytelling for sub-cultures.
“Beats By Dre could have done this, but would you have remembered? The crux is utilising technology to obtain research to back up Bose’s story,” she said.
The reverse is true for startups. Most startups McGlashan comes across have a hard time articulating their brand stories, as they are more passionate about using technology to solve a particular problem, but not storytelling. “Startups spend too much time on explaining the pedigree elements that made their product the best, but not why they are the best”.
One London-based startup that Mediacom wanted to recommend as a partner for one client had 17 percent market share of a certain technology. That market share number meant nothing much, but when they emphasised they can achieve the same effectiveness as a larger competitor but cost lesser. She was sold.
As for brands, Tuomas Peltoniemi, president for Asia at TBWA Digital Arts Network, points out
that the advertising industry should not be “defaulting innovation as technology” when selling to clients. He was at Rise to bust the myth of treating innovation as a technology project. “It has to be a mindset change. I have also been guilty of that, but innovation can come from a different way of approaching marketing methodology”.
To startups: grab the media with one-liner story
Resource-strapped startups cannot afford to put too much money behind marketing, but can still tout their work with “modular PR”, advised Simon Vericel, founder of Influence Matters. “They need to talk to friends and outsiders who are not involved in the business who will take different perspectives, and that can be the beginning of a crisp, one-liner brand story.
The term “Little Red Book” may call to mind images of Red Guards in China, but one startup with that name has associated itself with something completely different: social shopping for imported (read: cheaper) luxury goods. Called Xiao Hong Shu in Chinese and simply “Red” in English, the company has been hooking media with that tagline.
The next “module” in Red’s public relations strategy was to leverage on the power of its own community of estimated 20 million users, said Vericel. “In China, it’s all based on reputation. Xiao Hong Shu worked very hard on a story that meant reliability for the user; reliability stems from user reviews. It uses this community as much as possible in its communications. The luxury products sold are static; a watch is a watch is a watch. It takes such good care of its community and emphasise so much on the community atmosphere that they never even use the word ‘customers’,” he explained.
With that social-shopping-equals-reliability storyline, Xiao Hong Shu has been raising its profile in the US to try and get smaller luxury retailers to make their e-commerce debuts on its platform instead of Tmall.
His one-liner advice to startups: put yourselves in someone’s shoes when you tell your brand story.