Byravee Iyer
Sep 26, 2014

Think like startups: Mobext chief to agencies

SINGAPORE - Agencies don’t get mobile like startups do, and so it isn’t surprising that advertisers are investing marketing dollars in these mobile companies, said Arthur Policarpio, head of Mobext, during the penultimate Forum session at Spikes Asia 2014.

Arthur Policarpio
Arthur Policarpio

Please see all of our Spikes Asia 2014 coverage here

Policaropio cited Mondelez, PepsiCo and Unilever as just some of the companies investing in new digital-media startups.

So why are brands investing in startups?

  • Agencies are obsessed with creating campaigns, while startups create products and platforms that provide genuine utility
  • The advertising industry tends to produce work in the hopes of bagging awards
  • Startups have CEOs who move the needle. Increasing sales, reducing costs and improving the customer experience is what keeps them up at night. Sure, they think about brand awareness once in a while.
  • Stop thinking of mobile as just a media channel. Mobile can influence all aspects of business: marketing, commerce, customer service, research, product development and determining business models.

What should brands that want to work with startups know, and vice-versa?

  • For startups, funding is key. Try to treat advertisers as venture capitalists, Policarpio said. “Instead of pitching a short-term two month campaign, pitch a product idea,” he said.
  • Start with testing products on a small scale before putting them through a larger, rigorous test.
  • The need for speed is critical. Startups cannot wait three or four months. For them it’s a matter of survival because they run out of money. “This mentality breeds innovation,” he observed.
  • Failure in mobile is a good thing. There will always be errors and bugs and it is key to progress.
  • Take risks, Policarpo urged. “Why do clients ask for facts and proof? Sometimes you need to think like the crazy ones,” he concluded.

Campaign observation: A month ago Campaign Asia-Pacific ran a story highlighting this trend. Startups are starting to challenge traditional agencies and it was good to see some of the points raised in the piece validated in this presentation. Whether agencies can adopt a more risk-taking approach is a big question mark given the thinning margins in the industry, as an audience member pointed out.

Mobile creativity

The morning’s first session was a discussion about creativity on small devices that was held between MediaMonk’s CEO Victor Knaap and Wesley Ter Haar, founder and chief operating officer. Both Knaap and Ter Haar called for new tools and new rules and would like to see mobile come out of the shadows of desktop ideas.

Here are some of their tips:

  • Cater to the size of the screen but also the size of the audience
  • Location services are key
  • Remember that it is a personal device
  • Finally, mobile is where the discussion is really happening.


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