Brainstorm: Digital Media trends for 2009
I know Nick since some time now. He has sharp wit and a distinct intellect. When Nick started off his venture “ThirdSpace“- a networking hub for the digital advertising fraternity in Asia Pacific, I promised to tell (my part of) the world about it.
And here it is. In the “brainstorm” feature that was introduced here sometime back, we had featured some upcoming stars: TAWA, MMA Asia, and now, very appropriately, in the third feature of the seriatim- ThirdSpace. In Nick’s words: Third Space Consulting is a networking hub for independent interactive expertise in Asia Pacific. We support their business and drive commercial success by offering an authoritative brand, research, marketing and skills development services.
Frankly, The Brainstorm actually starts post this discussion- when you put in your comments, ask questions and maybe give a few answers yourself. Maybe I need a podcast or vodcast, but anyhow, this makes for a very interesting read:
Shalabh: Wish you the very best of luck. I’m sure Third Space Asia is going to shape up great.
Now, since the new year has just begun, here is a customary yet important discussion:
What are the top 5 online advertising/online marketing trends for 2009- specially for Asia Pacific?
Nick Fawbert: We need to recognize that the Asia Pacific market is evolving independently of the global scene. We start from a lower base, and limited investment can only support a slower pace of change. International pundits hype Web 2.0, Social Media, Mobile and sophisticated consumer targeting; however if we’re honest about the APAC digital industry then for most regional marketers these issues are being looked at down the wrong end of a very long telescope.
We need to recognise that commerce here is conservative, and that in the words of Deng Xiaoping we’re “crossing the river by feeling the stones”.
So for APac 2009 digital marketing trends, we need to look to the UK in 2003 and the US in 2001. For cash strapped regional marketers searching for ROI models that satisfy Finance Directors, digital is likely to be raising its head for the first time. This would make my trends dull but worthwhile:
- A doubling of proportion of the top 500 regional advertisers who have a viable online marketing and distribution presence (in my view from 20% to 40%)
- A dramatic increase in the use of Search as a marketing tool, manifesting itself in improved search results and increase keyword prices
- A tighter focus on campaign analytics and ROI for online display campaigns, and an associated rise in affiliate sites
- A doubling of digital’s share of the marketing spend to 4%
Shalabh: Quite pragmatic and I agree with most- The number of regional (and even local country) advertisers going up; widespread and better use if search marketing- we’ve already seen Keyword prices getting very high since last year, (specially on Google); and the digital media share of ad spend in APAC. To add, I think the focus on analytics will be higher too- not just from a campaign/media perspective- but even ‘client’/webanalytics side. Brands could start finding value in even hiring specialist staff for analytics (and not leave it to the site admin/webmaster). Another trend I think could become big is the rise in spending in what is referred to as “The Social Media”.
Since this topic was touched upon in the previous point (…International pundits hype web 2.0 and social media…), it’d be interesting to discuss this in detail: Marketers seem to be rediscovering what is being referred to ‘Social Media’: The substance, the hype and the trend- specially in Asia.
Nick Fawbert: I don’t believe that social media has a relationship with the regional marketing industry at present, let alone a hype. Other than SMEs running PPC campaigns on Facebook, social networking sites seem to be normally no more than bit players on display advertising schedules.
I haven’t seen evidence that corporate profiles receive much traffic, and I’m not sure that modern media-savvy audiences really want to engage in conversations with their brands, they have better things to do.
There are clear benefits to brand management strategies, to keep an eye on consumer views and discussions of products in social areas and where possible to address concerns and invite consumers to express their views and respond to them. I feel that this would entail a move away from perceptions of a brand as an authority to being a part of the consumer’s ‘team’, but I consider this to be an almost impossible task for global corporate to achieve whilst retaining a cohesive and consistent message.
I think that the landscape is unnecessarily blurred by social concepts such as twitter. As individuals we employ many coping strategies to edit our interface with the rest of the world into manageable chunks – we zone out the chatter of fellow restaurant guests for example.
There’s sound reasons for doing this, and we’d go nuts otherwise. It’s interesting that twitter allowed us to eavesdrop on the thoughts of Mumbai residents in the recent tragic attacks there, but if we’re honest it was not particularly illuminating. This isn’t to suggest people won’t post on things like twitter or their Facebook status, as everyone likes to talk about themselves: twitter’s like a social event where everyone’s talking and no-one’s listening. I simply don’t think that sufficient numbers will read it. Since this is a marketing cornerstone, it’s a non starter.
Either way, for APac this isn’t even on the horizon.
Shalabh: Whew! Strong views. I have strong views on this myself, but somewhat to the contrary.
I think it is time that the way marketing is conducted as “business as usual” (centered around media trading- buying, selling, ad exposure, inventories, negotiations et al) changes a bit. And adds another element to it. More intelligently. More subtly. And that is best achieved today, by the intelligent use of Social Media. I am imagining that zoning out of restaurant chatter similar to zoning out a TV commercial or even (devil be damned! I never imagined I would say this)- a banner ad? Different platform. Similar challenges.
Even for APAC, now that some numbers have started coming in, it seems very promising. Asia boasts the fastest growing social networking and social media market on the planet. Figures say that in China alone, the share of marketing spending on Social Media is about 20% of all digital marketing spending. Even if that is exaggerated (that implies about $280 million being spent in China alone), in contrast, an emarketer report says- in Asia, social media advertising might be worth $250 million plus this year. This report is limited by its classification of social netowrks and the platforms, and therefore represents a small proportion. Hence settling for somewhere in between, I think this market is going to be significantly large this year onwards in Asia- even if we exclude Australia, Korea and Japan- as they have been significantly ahead than other countries in Asia digitally.
But then again, let us change the topic and come to the next point:
In one of my earlier posts, I wondered if there is pervasive Americanization/westermization of thought leadership when it comes to the Internet. I wondered if Asia needed to produce some thought leaders in this respect. I get some emails on that post from time to time, and I think will be relevant to discuss here as well- specially since you have had experience in working in the UK and then for many years in Asia. What are your thoughts about it?
Nick Fawbert: I don’t believe that America has thought leadership, I simply think that it is supporting sufficient revenues to allocate investment to R&D projects. The majority of successful ideas on the internet are both simple and uninspired. Ten million people would have independently come to the conclusion that social networking and blogging are useful implementations of online technology, but someone had to pay for server time.
Facebook for example was neither ingenious nor original, it lucked out in that US students like to bask in the reflected glory of an ivy-league university social group. Anything it’s done since has really been tweaking.
Shalabh: Small businesses are increasingly utilising the internet, yet many feel flustered about where to start, and what are the most important channels that they should concentrate on. Hat tips for 2009 (and beyond)?
Nick Fawbert: First a viable online presence, and then a search strategy to bring customers easily to your door.
Search should always be first in the schedule, as it brings your most productive customers to you: people who are already in the market for your product.
Shalabh: That was short and pragmatic.Utilizing search effectively can bring significant enhancements to the RoI.
To add (and at the risk of sounding a social media junkie) I think small businesses (and large ones too) can utilize Social Platforms to market themselves as a low cost yet effective instrument.
Not to mention, a good social media campaign can boost your search (and other advertising) results.
Shalabh: That brings me to the last point. Agencies are extrememly important when it comes to marketing. Yet many, inspite of all their earnestness, have been struggling to establish a framework for integrating digital marketing with their offerings. Why is it that some agencies have failed repeatedly and what is the right paradigm?
Nick Fawbert: APac agencies lack sufficient investment from their clients in online solutions to support the expense of bringing localised sector experts to bear in sufficient numbers. It’s not a new challenge, the same thing applied in the UK market before 2004 and the US market pre 2003. The consequence was the stellar rise of online dedicated agencies such as i-Level in the UK who derived the necessary revenue by dealing with much larger numbers of clients than a typical media agency, but dealing only with their online solutions. The market in APac is ripe for this.
Shalabh: Agreed. I see the ‘forward looking’ clients taking advantage of niche agencies. Those that experts in a vertical- like search, direct response or specialist Social media marketing firms. At least for the time being till the bigger agencies crack the code and consolidate or realign.
With that, the actual Brainstorm for this post begins- with you- do you have a points of view on this? Do you feel about certain things said here?