Staff Writer
Feb 27, 2018

Tencent MIND Awards: Agencies speak on digital marketing’s breakneck progress

Representatives from DDB, Amplifi, Hylink, Starcom China and Tencent weigh in.

Tencent MIND Awards: Agencies speak on digital marketing’s breakneck progress

The eighth annual Tencent MIND Awards celebrated China’s standout digital marketing efforts over the last year. A new spin on the classic awards format, Tencent has over the years shaped the MIND Awards to mirror current trends in the digital marketing realm.

This initiative, while at first serving Tencent’s own PR focus, has narrowed over the years. Jeff Kwek, general manager, key accounts and channel business at Tencent Online Media Group explains, “There was dual purpose earlier. To encourage to best work, and to encourage people to make use of the platform.” He goes on, “Now the case studies are not just for publicity alone, we’re actually looking for breakthroughs.”

MIND is itself an acronym for different veins of change in the industry (measurement, interactive experience, navigation, differentiation) and the award’s judges from the agency side also represent these same values—individuals who not only have a wealth of experience, but have a thirst for new, groundbreaking ideas that effect the foundations of digital advertising.

Danny Mok, chief executive officer at DDB spoke of this ethos, “When consumer behaviour changes, switches from traditional media to digital media, as advertising agencies we have to change too. We have to change in a couple of ways. We have to change the way we communicate with consumers, and we have to change what we communicate to consumers.”

So what are these changes in a nutshell?

Opening the data flood gates

Data integration is now monolithic for every hopeful marketer. For some, it presents an obstacle, for others, an opportunity. Wee Ching Ian, CEO of Starcom China explained while at the awards ceremony, “A year or two years ago data was just a buzzword right? But you can see a lot of clients, a lot of agencies, haven’t really understood the real technique of how to mine that, how to drive that throughout entire communication solutions. But you can see, just from the entries we saw today, there is now a very mature use of data.”

Sun Xue, COO of Hylink is particularly supportive of the effects data can have on content. “If you fail to get some insight from the data you have, your technology is actually irrelevant to consumers. We’ve done a lot in this aspect, obtaining insight from both a tech perspective and a content perspective.” Sun goes on, “We used to apply data to expand reach, but now data is more utilised to get relevant content to target audiences.”

Meg Chen, EVP of digital development at DAN China and head of GMP at Amplifi China, has also witnessed different measures of data-driven advertising efforts. “The client side, they do have increasing needs to leverage data, and we can bring them better consumer insight to help them make a better decision in their marketing campaign.”

Chen is laser-focused on clients needs, and has seen first-hand the benefit of stepping out of your silo, and into a transparent data environment, “We position ourselves like a bridge, to bring our partners, our clients, our consumers together.”

The question of open data is pressing in China particularly, where a once tightly sealed industry is starting to open its doors. Wee has seen this change and claims that, from her perspective, the stereotype of China being “not as evolved, not as open when it comes to data” is now dated. “I don’t think that’s really the situation”, says Wee, “I think we’re in a lot of instances as advanced.”

To attest to these advancements, the Creative Data Award highlighted the 2017 campaign which best leveraged Tencent’s big data assets. The judging panel chose Decathlon’s location-based service advertising on WeChat Moments for this year’s accolade.

Tech complementing creative

As Kwek explains, developments in technology have widened the MIND Awards’ structure as well, “Our changes are in line with whatever is happening in the market,” he says, “now with AI, AR, data, content, IP…we had to expand the categories.”

These shifts have had a major impact on the campaigns in China. Renowned for having a massive population of early adopters, the evolvement of new marketing platforms is fast and fierce. Mok notes, “A couple of years ago people were talking about different types of technology like VR, AR, now people are talking about AI.”

Sun also weighs in on the subject, “We’re in a new stage, investing more in technology and content, and our clients will benefit from our efforts for sure.”

Nevertheless, tech still needs to meet the creative standards of consumers. Mok sees this delicate balance as key in retaining attention, “If you only have data but don't have good storytelling you can’t attract people, people won’t look at it. Think about how many different forms of advertising you get in touch with every day, but how many of them do you remember?”

Chen, meanwhile, is hopeful towards its use, “As all this new technology improves we can learn and collaborate more, and make better campaigns.”

Fostering evolution

If you’re searching for someone with their finger on the pulse of the industry, try agencies themselves. What might appear to be adapting, may actually be the initiation of new ideas. “As a creative agency, or brand agency, we grow with clients, we change with clients”, says Mok, “sometimes we even need to get a little bit ahead of clients.”

Wee envisions this relationship carrying on into the future. If clients and consumers in China continue to be a step ahead of the game, it’s in an agency’s best interest to be two steps ahead, blazing the path forward. “We’ll never reach a situation whereby we will not have to deal with any more change. I think this is an industry whereby change management, transforming at a very fast pace, is key.”

The Tencent MIND Awards has proved its dedication to this same marketing philosophy through both its continued expansion, and its stellar list of forward-thinking award winners. “In the end”, Kwek concludes, “we’re always looking for innovative, breakthrough case studies.”

Keep in touch for more in-depth discussion with judges, winners and more at the Tencent MIND Awards.

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