Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) and Tencent have had a strong alliance in place since 2015 that works towards both companies best interests, but at Cannes Lions this year, the two partners took that existing framework to a new level, elevating Tencent as one of two exclusive partners—the other being a leading global social network from the US—in DAN’s Mobile Stack.
Campaign sat down with representatives from the two groups at Cannes Lions, with both sides excited to start pooling their resources on new initiatives.
“We’ve been working together for a long time, but in the past it was more transactional,” said Jeff Kwek, general manager, key accounts and channel business, at Tencent Online Media Group. “Now we’ve upgraded the partnership to something more strategic.”
Motohiro Yamagishi, chief executive officer at Dentsu Aegis Network China, has been heading the agency for the last four years and has seen the Tencent partnership “blossom into something substantial, combining our creativity and consumer insight together with Tencent’s undeniable data power and platform”.
This move scraps the insulating barriers that so often exist between companies entrenched in the data game. For starters, it coalesces a wealth of consumer knowledge in the Chinese and global markets. Steven Chang, corporate vice-president at Tencent explains: “On the agency side, they call them customers, on our side, we call them users, but we have the same desire here—understanding what platforms people engage with, what content speaks to them, and why.”
A recent collaborative undertaking, and a marker of things to come, was the ‘Post-’90s report’ which took Tencent user data and culled relevant users with DAN’s ‘Consumer Connection System’ (CCS).
“It’s quite an important initiative; post-’90s is the next big consumer class,” said Kwek.
Chang followed up, commenting that the effort was a natural match, with data coverage spanning over 95 percent of China’s netizens. “This information isn’t just useful for one client, it’s actually universally important in order for all of us to get a much better understanding of media usage, social usage and how consumption habits are changing within this budding demographic,” he said.
Meg Chen, executive vice-president, digital development, at Dentsu Aegis Network China laid out the partnership’s long-term goals. “We’re looking to work closer on many fronts. First, we all know Tencent has strong data power, and at DAN we’re trying to offer our clients data solutions.”
Kwek estimates that Tencent has 900 million WeChat users and over 800 million QQ users—that’s a lot of data waiting to be explored. Bolstering that claim, Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2017 report found that mobile users in China spend more than 55 percent of their online time on Tencent platforms.
Tencent’s ecosystem is also unique in that it provides marketers a blueprint of the consumer journey: from awareness and engagement, to purchase and loyalty. This omnipresence is made possible through WeChat’s in-house CRM program and a comprehensive view of ecommerce portals.
This large user base and full perspective plays well into the growing application of ‘scenario marketing’ that Chen advocated as China’s next marketing model. “There’s an art to delivering the right message to the right people in the right place,” she said. “It starts with having a full view of the consumer journey.”
A relevant case study both groups pointed to is the Coca-Cola ‘Golden moments’ campaign, in which Qzone—a blogging and social networking component of Tencent—parsed through user photos to pinpoint remarkable moments, and aggregated the results, capturing up to 11 years of users’ lives.
Fuelling future talent
Another vein of the partnership is talent development, and with the future in mind, the two parties are joining forces to offer lectures about new business models, market trends, insights and technological innovations through the Dentsu Aegis Network X Tencent university programme. Kwek spoke frankly about the educational initiative’s objective: “In marketing and media, AI is going to do away with some of our jobs, this is something we all have to face. What we’re doing is approaching these changes with a fresh, positive outlook.”
The programme’s curriculum is designed to develop digital marketing professionals for the decades ahead. “We hope to infuse new talent with a new mindset: to be ready to adapt,” said Kwek.
Speaking to one of the programme’s many disciplines, Chang outlined ‘repetitive creativity’, in which AI reproduces designs in many different combinations so users aren’t always faced with the same ad, but instead have access to different iterations of a particular style. “We know the human element is irreplaceable, but what AI brings to the table is efficiency and precision,” he said.
Yamagishi followed up with the agency perspective: “We cannot neglect this technology, we need to understand it and use it to our advantage. Creatives using AI—this type of cross-domain talent is indispensable for the future of our industry.”
It’s worth noting that DAN is the only agency Tencent is working with on the project. This singular status was no mistake, Chang clarified: “DAN’s global skillset and resources, working together with our data, content and tech.” Chang went on to detail the partnership’s “aggressive KPI” which aims to create a new approach to mobile marketing.
In truth, if companies in marketing technology are going to outperform, cooperation is key. While consumer insight and data sets are going to continue pouring in, accessing that trove of resources and making creative use of it depends heavily the bridges built between brands and data providers.
This new collaboration will further simplify how Tencent and DAN determine brand engagement, identify the moment of intent for brand owners and optimise mobile user experiences. Chang reiterated the importance of the partnership: “As a company, you can’t go it alone, you need the right partners. Here we have two companies, two industry leaders, two cultures, that are together finding new client solutions.”
“We’ve been working together for a long time, but in the past it was more transactional. Now we’ve upgraded the partnership to something more strategic”
— Jeff Kwek, general manager, key accounts and channel business at Tencent Online Media Group
“On the agency side, they call them customers, on our side, users, but we have the same desire—understanding what platforms people engage with, what content speaks to them, and why”
— Steven Chang, corporate vice-president at Tencent
“We’re looking to work closer on many fronts. First, we all know Tencent has strong data power, and at DAN we’re trying to offer our clients data solutions”
— Meg Chen, executive vice-president, digital development at Dentsu Aegis Network China
“Creatives using AI—this type of cross-domain talent is indispensable for the future of our industry”
— Motohiro Yamagishi, chief executive officer at Dentsu Aegis Network China