Jane Leung
Sep 10, 2010

XM Asia-Pacific's Paul Soon on his mission to reduce paid media online

HONG KONG – In a recent interview with Campaign, regional director of XM Asia-Pacific Paul Soon explains why he thinks paying for media is not a sustainable business model for clients in the long run.

Paul Soon, regional director, XM Asia-Pacific
Paul Soon, regional director, XM Asia-Pacific

“Clients are trained to buy media,” Soon said. He explains that online banners on average generate a mere 0.1 to 0.2 per cent clickthrough rate with Hong Kong slightly higher at 0.3 per cent.

"My biggest crusade is to reduce paid media," said Soon.

Digital campaigns that heavily rely on exposure through media buying tend to receive drastic up and down results in return. The reason being that a campaign cannot sustain itself after a season of promotions. Awareness drops as soon as the project stops paying to be seen online.

Clients instead need to build a campaign based on value. Soon continue by saying, “Most brands are not structured to think of experience and values. The marketing department is just set to sell.”

He refers to the Old Spice campaign as a good example of creating sustainability in the digital space. A client starts a series of digital brand assets including a website, online videos and social networking page and then proceeds with quality seeding and tagging online. This creates user engagement and sharing among the online community, generating free media coverage.

If a brand gives an audience a reason to believe in it through a well planned campaign, clients can stop spending after the initial seeding and tagging stage and let the online community take over and generate media coverage, rendering additional investments in paid media unnecessary.

Soon adds that even though digital is a good place to turn when the economy is bleak, agencies are still not earning a reasonable margin compared to the time and labour invested.

Moving forward, XM Hong Kong will be focusing on building digital assets for existing clients. Referring to his team of less than 10 in Hong Kong compared to 100 people in Singapore, Soon said he is excited about working ‘from scratch’, meaning there is room to be flexible and more responsive to change.

XM Hong Kong currently counts PCCW, Nikon and HSBC among its clients. Reported earlier this month, the digital agency saw David Jessop, Billy Chan and Munhoe Tung come on board to lead creative and business developments.

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