Staff Reporters
Jul 20, 2016

Photos: GroupM #HowNowDigital conference

Inaugural conference encourages Malaysian marketers to create global case studies.

MALAYSIA - With digital media advertising spend at 15 percent of total budgets, digital marketing in Malaysia is going through rapid changes. GroupM’s #HowNowDigital conference held on 13 July, sought to offer advertisers a roadmap for navigating the rapidly evolving ecosystem.

The one-day knowledge-sharing forum saw speakers and panelists with global, regional and local expertise, discuss key checkpoints in the consumer’s digital journey. Focus areas included the creation of custom audience segments, development of built-for-purpose digital content and perhaps most importantly, developing accurate methods of measuring success.

“Today we wanted to be purposely provocative to force ourselves to think about what we're doing and why we're doing it,” said GroupM CEO Girish Menon. “We believe that Malaysia, with its digitally savvy consumers, is capable of producing best-in-class work and global case studies.”


In a presentation titled Chasing the Right Audience, not just Eyeballs, Henry Stokes, VP of client development for Xaxis APAC, said that data from different sources when processed through a DMP (data management platform) can help marketers target consumers sharply in terms of interests and behaviour.

Through lookalike modeling, it is possible to search for new customers who behave like their existing ones. Programmatic technology, he said, allowed marketers to target the right audience at the right time in the right context with the right message.


Siddharth Narula, Culture Machine’s president of revenue posed the question of brands can better integrate content with advertising and gain those precious few minutes or even seconds with consumers, in his presentation Engaging Content in an Attention Deficit World.

The company believes the success of any piece of content can be boiled down to four pillars: its format, emotions elicited, sentiment and audience interest. And in a time when more than 60 percent of internet users consume video content, timely creation of video content should be one of the top priorities for a modern marketer.


What and how to measure ROI on digital? Sanchit Sanga, chief digital officer of Mindshare APAC, reassured the audience that the problem of understanding attribution is a worldwide issue.

A recent study by Adobe which said that 70 percent of global marketers believe that investments will go up, 68 percent feel more pressure to demonstrate ROI, and less than 50 percent know what's working in digital marketing.

“Why? Because the metrics are being set by the media owners. Metrics cannot be set by the media owners, metrics need to be set by the marketers,” said Sanga.

He went on to speak on metrics that matter, methods to test communication goals against the multiple channels available as well as the pitfalls of rigid rule-based attribution methodology.

Over-investment in time required to understand digital better

A high-powered panel, moderated by CIMB Group CMO Adam Wee Abdullah and featuring Chan May Ling of Digi, Ben Mahmud of Shell, Lim Kean Yew of Coca Cola, Tim Johnson of INTI and Alex Yoong of Nippon Paints, discussed the importance of developing brand messages specifically for digital platforms rather than recycling content built for traditional media.

“Marketers cannot afford to wait for digital platforms and technologies to stabilize. Instead, they must be in a constant state of testing and learning in the race to engage with consumers,” said GroupM’s Menon, emphasizing that agencies and marketers need to invest disproportionately in digital marketing.

“Even if digital media is only 20 percent of spends, collectively we should be investing 80 percent of our time on it simply because we have to understand it better. It’s constantly changing, it’s complex and it’s not yet perfect,” he said.

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