Faaez Samadi
Mar 16, 2017

Twitter eyes maturing APAC data scene with interest

With its own data science and analytics offering, the social network’s new APAC head of data says opportunities are rife.

Ben Truscello
Ben Truscello

A growing understanding of the value of good data and insights across Asia-Pacific is a key driver for Twitter’s regional data solutions lead Ben Truscello.

Arriving in Singapore eight months ago, Truscello is APAC head of Twitter Data for global brands and agencies. He said there are many prospects to reach local and regional brands, with the data side of the business.

“Seeing Twitter as an advertising platform and way to reach new customers is very obvious,” he told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “There’s increased interest in data, and even though we have some global corporations with operations here, the unique nature of their interest in Twitter data is very specific to APAC.”

The relative immaturity in social data across the region means Truscello is having several conversations with brands and agencies over the value Twitter data can bring to APAC marketers.

“A good example is that in other regions they’ll have access to third-party data,” he said. “That really doesn’t exist in APAC. Twitter Data can help brands understand the kinds of things their customers care about, when they don’t have access to that kind of data already.”

Scott Hendrickson, Twitter global director of data services, gave the example of Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The brand was looking at pricing analytics, but by adding Twitter data, identified that people were talking about buying ice cream in preparation for rainy weekends.

"It was really counter-intuitive," he said. "But Unilever found a market they hadn’t tapped into, that of people buying comfort or entertainment food in preparation for a rainy weekend. It shifted Unilever's digital marketing strategy on Thursdays and Fridays." 

Truscello said he has seen much interest from the well-developed technical and analytics community in Singapore specifically, but maturity in nascent markets is still growing.

“A large majority of marketers today are keen on data and insights, but don’t really know how to get to it,” Truscello said. “Increasingly those conversations are much more informed now, and we can spend more time talking about the relevant business insights rather than ‘what is Twitter Data?’”

One of the main challenges is getting more marketers to understand the process around sophisticated data science, and that it cannot always happen as quickly as brands or agencies think.

“With the deeper analytics or data science questions, there’s an expectation that they can be addressed overnight, without realising that the kind of data we’re dealing with is massive, and the techniques used require serious iteration to get right,” Truscello said. “But there’s a healthy level of respect among marketers for that kind of data science.”

Twitter Data has already signed its first APAC brand partner in Discovery Networks, with others in the pipeline.

“Social data can provide us with valuable insights and analysis of rapidly changing consumption patterns and preferences of our evolving consumer base,” said Winradit Kolasastraseni, senior vice president for innovation at Discovery Networks APAC.

Kolasastraseni thinks Twitter's data services can help deepen their understanding of these trends, seeing "tremendous potential" when combined with Discovery's existing data tools for measuring and capturing.

Given that Japan, India and Indonesia are three of Twitter’s largest user markets, Truscello said the company is only scratching the surface with it’s data offering in APAC.

“We think of our data as a massive repository of human thought, going back over a decade,” he said. “We have a tremendous number of users in Asia-Pacific, and with that comes data that we can turn into insights.”

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