Gunjan Prasad
Jun 13, 2017

Highlights from Media360 Malaysia

Five key takeaways from the recent conference.

Media360 Malaysia took place on 23 May in Kuala Lumpur. Here a five takeaways that emerged from the day's discussions.

1. Advertisers need to take ownership of measurement

Malaysia is a unique market when it comes to television measurement. It is somewhat of a duopoly with Astro dominating the Pay TV industry and Media Prima well penetrated in the FTA segment. The industry has had two currencies in the market since January i.e. Nielsen measuring FTA viewership and Kantar measuring PayTV viewership. The key stakeholders, the broadcasters, media agencies and the research agencies have embarked upon the journey to unify the currency that can be audited, is open and transparent, robust, stable and can be used as a measure to trade with.

In a session titled 'Currency converter' when the moderator Girish Menon, CEO, GroupM Malaysia, raised a question as to what could the key stakeholders have done differently if they were to start the process again, Bala Pomaleh, CEO of IPG Mediabrands, said, “In times when budgets are increasingly moving to non TV platforms and the concern of every client is how to measure videos, we are talking about unifying the currency only from the TV perspective. By the time we are ready to roll it out in early 2018, we will need to rethink the whole strategy.”

Javed Jafri, channel communication manager, Unilever Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia & Laos, has been a driving force behind aligning the stakeholders for this purpose, but he too believes that integration of digital should have happened from the very beginning. “Malaysia is a complicated market as we need to address to three different sub-sets: Malays, Chinese and Indians. With our own TV buys reducing and budgets moving where consumers are, I need to constantly ask myself is I am measuring correctly and ensuring that I am reaching the right audience at the right cost.”

Both Nielsen and Kantar are together as collaborators and not competitors towards a single-currency landscape and were also ready to fuse digital with traditional in their research mechanics, but made it very clear that every demand comes at an increased cost. “Nielsen is not a library after all,” said Richard Hall, managing director of Nielsen Malaysia.

Said Chee Weng Yap, president of MSA and CEO of Dentsu Media Malaysia, “It is the moral duty of the advertisers to improve standards of measurement by taking ownership and start paying for the services. It is a huge tax to unify the currencies in Malaysia and at the moment media owners are footing 70 percent of the bill, with agencies pitching in the rest.”

2. AI will augment storytelling, not replace it

Each brand needs a story that touches the heart and all the panelists on the “Where we play” segment agreed to that. “We all know storytelling is critical, and it has become the true conduit of engagement, time and time again,” said Andreas Vogiatzakis, CEO, Havas Media Group, Malaysia

“However, there is no denying that attention spans are short and thus stories and the way we tell them need to change too. We need to look at who receives the story and what relevance it has to him. Marketers can decide to tell a story that is open ended or participative and that is where technology comes in, making storytelling inclusive and engaging.”

Added Eileen Ooi, head of PHD Malaysia, “That humans, whether Gen Y or Gen Alpha, still connect with the heart first but the platforms they connect with the stories have multiplied manifold. We need to turn beautiful stories into nuggets of adaptive content quickly and AI intelligence aids in achieving this objective. It tells us our consumers’ preferences and help deliver the right stories to the right people. Scalable personalization is the way forward.”

Ecommerce, however, has changed the dynamics of storytelling. According to Dheeraj Raina, GM and head of strategy at Mindshare Malaysia, a consumer buying on Lazada at 50 percent off is definitely not making a decision based on his heart. Storytelling has to be relevant in every step of the consumer’s purchase journey and today that is the main challenge facing the media industry. “With a battered Malaysia Ringitt and the consumer confidence at an all-time low, each advertising dollar needs to make an impact and no surprise then that new-age jargons such as brand safety, viewability and transparency have become a part of most client conversations.”

3.  CMOs need to educate procurement about their needs

Costs or procurement was one of the key topics brought up by Shufen Goh, principal with R3, while moderating the “Agency-Client Relationship” segment. “Too often one sees procurement playing the role of a villain, without really understanding the need of its own marketing department. They fulfill their KPIs by negotiating the commission rate or fee as a lump-sum, not realizing that this may compromise the marketing teams ability to get good business.”

Media agencies are still better placed than other marketing services providers as they have managed to up their deliverables. Said Amit Sutha, Managing Director, Universal McCann, Malaysia, “Media agencies are no longer buying media but buying audiences with help of a lot of data and information coming out of clients through their interactions with consumers on multiple platforms.  But the remuneration is still restricted to media parameters. However, we have evolved and innovated and built additional capacities that allow us to contact the customers in new ways. While procurement pushes us on media, these services are billed separately.”

However, according to Goh, media agencies all too often undervalue their own services by offering them for free while negotiating with procurement. In any commercial agreement, marketing has to take ownership of educating their colleagues about their requirements and the media agencies should ask upfront what the evaluation criteria is.

With pressures on the currency, a dismal market outlook and a completely different landscape, clients are making unexceptional demands on their agencies. Said Head, Brand Marketing, Celcom Axiata Berhad, “Gone are the days when I look at a media schedule and sign on it. I need my agency to talk about RoIs, shifting the game for each product launch, crack numbers etc. Before I can be transparent about my numbers to them, I need to ask if they have the right talent asking the right questions that are relevant to the business today? Why should I trust them with my data if they don’t understand how my business works?”

4. Understanding skills and the will is the key to nurturing and retaining talent

The conversation continued in the “Talent: Tough to find, tougher to hold!” segment led by APAC CEO of Grace Blue, Jean-Michel Wu, where Margaret Lim, Managing Director, OMD Malaysia brought up a hard fact. “The clients don’t pay us enough for us to find the money to pay attractive salaries to the right kind of talent.” The fault, in many ways, lies with the agencies who have driven the market down to the ground in a quest to hold on to accounts and businesses, thus, leaving abysmally low resources that can be earmarked towards hiring, nurturing and retaining talent. The only way out, according to him, is for all agencies and clients to take up responsibility to work collectively to nurture talent.

Added Chanchal Chakrabarty, Managing Partner, APAC & Managing Director, Mediacom Malaysia, “We expect the fish to fly. We are so desperate to fit in people in existing roles that we overlook what their skills and wills are. We need to identity the skill sets of these digital natives and place them correctly to see them challenges and engaged. That is sometimes enough to retain motivated creative people.”

5. Brands safety is subjective and needs to be defined by the client

In a conversation about brand safety, the four panelists representing Google, IAS, comScore and OMG agreed that advertisers with their wallets have voting rights of where should the advertisement appear, in what context and across what content. Once this definition is established, the agencies and their vendors can be held accountable on these metrics. Nick Drew, head of agency, Google Malaysia said, “We always had stringent metrics in place but after the recent Youtube episode, we have placed stricter measures in place.”

For instance, if there are less than 10,000 views, no ad is placed on the content; or if the content has not been scrubbed ads are not placed besides it, etc.

For a more post paid approach, clients can them sign up for services of third party measurement agencies to monitor how many impressions have gone into appropriate content and through a couple of clicks the ad can be blocked out from showing there, according to Jonah Ken Tan, VP, SE Asia, comScore.

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