Category Archives: News

Tickled Media names first Chief Strategy Officer as revenue up 45%

As a rising star of Southeast Asia’s media tech scene, and the publisher behind theAsianparent.com, AsianMoneyGuide.com, and HerStyleAsia.com, Tickled Media reaches over 12 million women monthly across SEA via its content and community platforms.

We caught up with Adrian Watkins, newly appointed Chief Strategy Officer at Tickled Media, to discuss plans for the future and his enhanced role within the business. As part of his expanded brief, Adrian works alongside Tickled Media Founder and CEO Roshni Mahtani to help develop, communicate, execute, and sustain strategic initiatives ranging from commercial positioning through to wider business rationale.

Digital in Asia: What have been your team’s greatest achievements in the past 12 months?

Adrian Watkins: It was a year in the making, but we’ve redesigned and re-engineered the front-end of theAsianparent, which has resulted in faster loading speeds, higher page engagement, better email capture, and innovations in commercial solutions. We’ve also created an enhanced Brand Solutions programme that offers clients a flexible, data-driven playground where they can manage budgets, split-test new concepts and creatives, and find what resonates with their desired audience over a longer period of time. This process takes them from market research, through to content creation and distribution, social media / KOL amplification, and finally to campaign conversions.

DIA: Have you been focusing around programmatic?

Adrian: We’ve maximised our network yields by signing upwards of 15 new vendors in the automated revenue space, offering a mix of programmatic, outstream and native capabilities, and allowing for better commercial terms while lessening our reliance on Facebook and Google.

But my proudest achievement is building up the team. There is no greater display of growth than a team member picking up a pen to explain in detail what he or she is saying on a whiteboard!

DIA: What’s your next big project as CSO?

Adrian: This company is on the cusp of something truly exciting – becoming the largest women-focused media tech company in the region. Securing our Series B funding earlier in the year allowed us to launch new content verticals to better inform and empower Asian women: Asian Money Guide and HerStyleAsia. We’ve got a couple more in the pipeline so that’s what’s keeping the team on their toes.

Meanwhile, we just re-launched our app for theAsianparent and it’s pretty exciting to be able to work on the largest social network for parents. With easy-to-use Q&A, mums can harness the collective wisdom and experiences of our active community of parents, experts, and parents-to-be, as they share and grow their parenting knowledge.

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Watkins was the Founder and Managing Director of data, tech, and marketing consultancy firm PerformanceAsia, and was previously a Board member of the Asia Content Marketing Association (ACMA). He also has a proven corporate track record within world-class organisations such as Virgin, News Corporation, and CBS, leading initiatives in business development, company acquisition, monetising existing and new territories, and building and managing commercial and content teams in multiple countries.

Both Tickled Media and the wider industry stand to benefit from this appointment, given Watkins’ client focus and data mastery. Sachin Pagey, Director of Strategy and Marketing Services at Mega Lifesciences, weighs in: “Adrian’s promotion to Chief Strategy Officer is a great move for Tickled Media and one that Mega We Care fully endorses. I’ve worked very closely with Adrian over the last year for the launch of Baby Natura, our plant-based whole food, in the region. The depth of insight, energy and enthusiasm he’s brought to our long-term partnership is much welcome. We look forward to enhancing this relationship with theAsianparent even further as we launch our new products and move into more markets in 2019. With Adrian’s promotion to CSO, the long-term outlook for Tickled Media is undoubtedly positive!”

Tickled Media Founder and CEO Roshni Mahtani added: “At a time when tech and media are evolving at breakneck speed, we need someone to help usher Tickled into a new era of insight-led innovation. We’re looking no further than Adrian, who has done remarkable things for our campaign delivery process, smoothed out so many operational hiccups, and brought in streams of new revenue.”

 

Transparency and Ad Quality: Brand Safety Matters to Consumers

Following a spate of misplaced ad scandals and fake news controversies, brand safety is commonly acknowledged as one of the most pressing challenges currently facing marketers looking to reach digital audiences.

But the impact on, and reaction of, consumers to issues around brand safety is less well documented.

Brand responsibility

According to latest research from Reuters, Tomorrow’s News 2018, a high proportion of consumers believe brands are responsible for where their ads are running.

62% of consumers believe “brands have full control over where their advertising appears”.

The majority of consumers (77%) also say that advertising next to ‘unsavoury or objectionable’ stories can damage their perception of a brand. Worryingly, 75% have seen brands advertising alongside unsavoury or objectionable stories or videos. And while 81% feel that Facebook and Google should be ‘held accountable’ for the content they carry on their platforms, they are unaware of their role in brand safety. Reuters respondents believe the buck stops with advertisers.

Impartiality, trust & integrity

Ad agencies and tech companies alike, are being forced to pay more attention to good governance, and collaborations with trusted partners to avoid these types of challenges.

With this in mind, the value of impartiality, honesty and integrity also featured strongly in the Reuters analysis. A huge majority of global respondents said they were more likely to turn to professional publishers, such as online news brands, over social media for trusted content, with 86% more likely to turn to online news brands for “trusted content in a trusted environment”.

Consumers underestimated

The uncomfortable truth in our digital age is that it’s not always clear where online ads are running. And yet, consumers – perhaps unsurprisingly – have little idea of the problems of programmatic, vulnerable supply chains or, most importantly, the huge role that Google and Facebook play in the process.

Investment in brand-safe environments and trusted partnerships is supported by numerous studies recently, from Group M to IAS – and they all show the link between brand safety and performance. Now we can add that this is something consumers are also clamouring for.

Reuters Tomorrows News 2018

You can also read and download the full report here.

A Duopoly of Convenience: Facebook & Google Tap New Growth in APAC

by Tom Simpson

Latest data reveals that in Q1 2018, Facebook and Google ad revenue grew by 40% year-on-year across Asia Pacific (ex. China), while ‘The Rest’ – every publisher and ad tech business outside the duopoly – saw a fall in revenue of 20% over the same period.

Total APAC (ex. China) Digital Ad Revenue (USD billions) (1)

Looking at the top-line, digital advertising is experiencing strong growth across APAC, with ad spend up $0.85 billion year-on-year in 2018. But it’s clear that while many publishers and ad tech businesses are still growing, in reality that additional $0.85 billion revenue is comprised of $1.63 billion more for Google and Facebook, and $0.78 billion less for everyone else.

As a result, Facebook and Google revenue hit 65% of APAC total digital revenue, up from 51% in Q1 2017. This means twice as much budget goes to the duopoly as every other digital publisher and ad tech platform in the region put together.

APAC (ex. China) Q1 2018 Digital Ad Revenue Share (%)

Google and Facebook also grew in terms of revenue share across all media, taking 20 cents in every 1 dollar spent in the region. This is up from 15% – or 15 cents in the dollar – last year, and represents an increase in budget flowing from traditional media, including TV and OOH.

The duopoly in perspective

From a global perspective, Facebook and Google have been strengthening their hold over digital advertising budgets for several years. Asia Pacific has actually seen a slower shift in spend than the US or Europe, where Google and Facebook already account for 80% of digital ad revenue.

While there is a huge amount for ad tech to be positive about in 2018, and plenty of genuine tech innovation on the supply side outside the duopoly – mobile, blockchain, digital retail, apps, influencers, and permission-based marketing, are all areas seeing new thinking and growth – the publishing and ad tech industries are in a challenging space right now. Concerns over ad quality and complex value chains, in addition to the impact of Facebook and Google, have left VC money looking for safer havens. With marketing clouds, telcos and consultancies worldwide positioning for unified marketing technology stacks – the acquisition rumours at Cannes in 2018 were even more outrageous than those around the downfall of Sir Martin Sorrell – mad-tech consolidation started several years back, and looks set to accelerate in the years ahead.

But it’s not only the supply side facing increased headwinds. The brave-new-era marketing stacks are already busy hunting brand agency business direct from the major holding groups, using their newly enhanced strategic and tech positioning to situate themselves both upstream closer to the CEOs ear, and downstream on the battlefield of media execution across newly rationalised, open, and addressable programmatic auctions. Whether it’s okay for the auditors to also do the work, is another question of course.

Even Google and Facebook cannot be sitting easy in the face of the increased scrutiny and margin pressure promised by these changes, alongside recent brand safety issues, an emerging 3rd advertising player in Amazon, and a resurgent Twitter. Growing antitrust concerns in the US and EU spurred by a public revolt against the increasing power of the silicon valley tech titans, fears over over-reach into our everyday lives and loss of jobs have also made headlines in 2018. Google and Facebook are yet to crack China, but each is making moves with greater and lesser degrees of success to grow influence in this hugely important global market.

The age of convenience

Human beings have long sought means to make our lives easier. From earliest times with the invention of the stone hand axe, to the swarms of gig economy apps which today get people to clean your apartments, drive you around, do your shopping or deliver you just about anything you can think of, at the touch of a smartphone screen, convenience has been the driving force behind much human-made ingenuity. Most of us in the modern world now expect gratification to be on-demand.

New ways of offering services to customers have significantly changed how organisations and companies operate and compete in all markets. So it is no surprise that the age of convenience has come to our industry. What Uber did for transportation, Netflix for TV, and AirBnB for accommodation, Google and Facebook have done for marketing. And they are justifiably reaping the rewards.

In the on-demand era, there is only one guarantee: money flows to those who offer – or at least appear to offer – the comfort of convenience. This is the inconvenient truth.

Notes

As per last year, numbers are based on Facebook and Google publicly filed earnings information and best industry advertising revenue estimates via the IAB, Zenith and Emarketer among others – but someone out there may have a better view, so corrections welcome. The major assumption in this data is to exclude Chinese advertising spend from Google and Facebook earnings information and APAC industry spend estimates. This is to avoid distorting the data by including a market where Facebook and Google have small (although not insignificant) advertising businesses. All the data is available on a public Google sheet (yes, sorry, it’s Google!) here.

Key References

Facebook Reports First Quarter 2018 Results: https://s21.q4cdn.com/399680738/files/doc_financials/2018/Q1/Q1-2018-Press-Release.pdf

Facebook Q1 2018 Earnings Presentation
https://s21.q4cdn.com/399680738/files/doc_financials/2018/Q1/Q1-2018-Earnings-Presentation-(1).pdf

Alphabet Announces First Quarter 2018 Results
https://abc.xyz/investor/pdf/2018Q1_alphabet_earnings_release.pdf

Asia’s Top 1000 Brands – Movers and Shakers

Campaign Asia has just released it’s annual Top 1000 brands survey, covering the biggest brands with Asian consumers, the brands that have risen and fallen furthest in the top 100 in the last year, plus the top 10 smartphone and social-media brands in Asia. It’s a great overview of the digital marketing landscape in APAC.

Biggest Movers in the Top 100

Biggest mover in the top 100 was Uniqlo, with other fashion retail brands, including Lazada, H&M and Zara, also having strong years.

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Top Social Media Brands

Congratulations to Facebook, still the clear leader in social media, and subsidiary brand Instagram also having a strong year, moving into the top 100.

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Top Smartphone Brands

Apple is Asia’s top smartphone brand, with Samsung in second spot. There were strong years for Huawei and Oppo, with big launches and large marketing budgets driving growth in brand perception.

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Asia’s top 5 car, airline, luxury, cosmetic, online retail, banking, beer, soft drinks, fast food and ice cream brands can be found in the slideshow below, and more info at Campaign Asia.

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6 Interesting Start Up Ideas at Innovfest Singapore

1. V-Key managing trust and identity with virtual hardware on your phone

V-Key is a global leader in software based digital security. V-Key is the inventor of V-OS, the world’s first virtual secure element that uses advanced cryptographic and cybersecurity protections to comply with standards previously reserved only for expensive hardware solutions. How does it work? They create a virtual hardware smart chip within an app, meaning identity is held in the same way as on a cashcard smart chip – and with the same level of security. Interesting ultimately for anyone concerned with real world identity, which is why they already work with governments worldwide. Prepare for your passport to change in the near future. Trust simplified.

2. Handshakes automating corporate due diligence

Handshakes applies natural language processing and machine learning technology in an innovative way to analyse corporate data and publicly available unstructured data. The platform can then fuse this data with a companies existing unstructured databases to provide strategic intelligence about who to trust and who to do business with. Exciting stuff and sure to disrupt back offices globally – corporate due diligence is suddenly a trivial task.

3. Xjera Labs video analytics for crowd control

Xjera Labs focuses on revolutionary smart video content analytics (VCA) by implementing deep learning based VCA for various commercial applications. Kind of like Minority Report.

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4. IOT Factory simplify the Internet of Things for normal entrepreneurs

IOT Factory have built a unique Software Platform to make any sensor, any device, using any network (M2M, LoRa, SigFox, BLE and many more) speak a desired language, through dashboards, reports, smart alerts, and easy integration capabilities. Essentially they’ve automated the back end of the Internet of Things so non-technical innovators can start to build on it. Thank you.

5. SettleMint, a blockchain for democracy

SettleMint is a fintech player working with distributed ledger technology. One of their projects, called SettleMint Ballot Box, uses immutable blockchain technology to record votes. In doing so, the company aims to address any doubts regarding the outcome of voting processes and elections. Use cases for the blockchain are crucial for pushing this forward.

6. Playpass bringing versatile Apple Pay / Paywave type technology to events

PlayPass are all about events and technology. They provide RFID solutions to allow better event management – in short every attendee gets an RFID wristband. From the moment the gates open real-time reporting tracks and displays the number of visitors on-site, which brands and activations are of interest to that visitor and what they consume and purchase.

Unilever Launch new Singapore Innovation Hub

Unilever Foundry and Padang & Co this week launched LEVEL3, a co-working space that pushes the boundaries of collaboration and corporate innovation. Redefining the traditional concept of workspaces, LEVEL3 brings together Unilever, startups, and entrepreneurs to encourage innovation and create new partnerships that deliver real and meaningful business impact.

“LEVEL3 stems from our mission to make sustainable living commonplace. It offers our business a direct connection with disruptive technologies and changemakers to shape the way we work – ultimately impacting people’s lives,” said Pier Luigi Sigismondi, President, South East Asia and Australasia. “LEVEL3 is the springboard for startups to scale and build successful businesses.”

Built within the Unilever regional headquarters in Singapore, the 22,000 sq ft workspace provides proximity to Unilever brands and functions, and access to existing Unilever Foundry programmes. To date, 15 international and local startups have already established themselves at LEVEL3, including Adludio, ConnectedLife, Datacraft, EcoHub, GetCRAFT, Next Billion, Olapic, Snapcart, TaskSpotting and Try and Review.

LEVEL3 focuses on the following areas: Marketing Tech & Ad Tech, Enterprise Tech, Products & Ingredients, New Business Model Innovation and Social Impact.

New Technology and Partnership Opportunities in the UK

The UK recently kicked off its largest ever international trade and investment marketing campaign. Aimed at international businesses and governments the campaign plans to showcase the UK’s trade and investment opportunities to a global marketplace, including the EU and beyond.

The comprehensive, multi-channel campaign will display a series of new images showcasing the UK’s world-leading products and services, including advertising in international airport hubs such as Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, Dubai, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Singapore; press publications; along with substantial digital promotion.

As part of this international push, the Department for International Trade is stepping up its efforts to help international companies looking to trade or invest in the UK to find the right opportunities for them.

A recently launched interactive digital service – www.great.gov.uk – will provide practical advice to UK businesses ready to take the next step into new global markets, or international buyers and sellers who want to know more about the UK market or how to buy British.

The digital service will also include information on seven sectors, from technology to food and drink, so that international businesses can easily navigate the UK market and make an informed decision about the best investment opportunities.

Jo Hawley, Director of International Trade and Investment at the British Consulate in Hong Kong added: “Hong Kong and UK trading links have gone from strength to strength over the last 20 years. In the British Consulate General in Hong Kong, we are working with record numbers of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese investors expanding their businesses into the UK as well as UK companies keen to do business in Hong Kong. We hope that our new campaign and digital hub will encourage even greater trading links.”

The UK’s technology links across Asia continue to grow, with Dyson opening a new Singapore tech center focusing on R&D in AI and software this week.

Over the coming months the UK government will be reaching out to more global partners to facilitate global trading relationships. For more information, please visit www.great.gov.uk.

 

More Facebook measurement errors – when will brands lose patience?

Facebook has admitted to misleading advertisers on key metrics for the third time in as many months.

On this occasion it’s a discrepancy between the number of likes and shares Facebook shows for web links, and also issues with the number of likes and reaction emojis that page owners see for their live videos.

In the first case in September it was revealed that the social network had been inflating a key video viewing metric for years.

In the second case, there were multiple errors:

  • A bug in Page Insights with the weekly and monthly summaries miscalculating the total numbers without taking into consideration the repeat visitors. This brought a reduced reach of 33% for the 7-day summary and 55% for the 28-day summary. According to Facebook, this didn’t affect the paid reach.
  • A small miscalculation to the length of the videos, with a difference of one to two seconds in the final result, due to occasional problems of syncing the audio and the video to each device.
  • There was an over-reporting of 7-8% on the time spent on Instant Articles since last August. Facebook reported that this issue is now fixed.
  • The “Referrals” metrics on Facebook Analytics for Apps was also miscalculated, as it didn’t simply track the links to the app or the site, but also the clicks to the posts via the app or the site, which also included the clicks to view photos and videos.

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Facebook should be given credit for being upfront about its mistakes and rectifying its errors. But the more measurement errors and corrections it discloses, the more difficult it becomes to trust Facebook’s measurements.

It’s a dilemma that some brands and agencies have been wrestling with for a while, and it’s one that may not subside until Facebook allows independent firms to directly measure these previously faulty stats, rather than relying on Facebook for the raw, corrected data.

If Facebook ends the walled garden then many of these problems go away.

Samsung is Top Brand with Asian Consumers, ahead of Apple

Brands at the forefront of tech and media shine in the 2016 Asia’s Top 1000 Brands ranking. Number 1 position was taken by Samsung, with Apple and Sony in 2 and 3 respectively.

Samsung retained its top spot in terms of customer perception, despite a tough year which saw mobile phone sales squeezed by Android competitors. They released the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Note 5 in August 2015, beating new iPhones to the market by about a month. These models debuted after slow sales of the premium Galaxy S6 prompted price cuts and customer refunds. Samsung then wasted little time in launching the Galaxy S7 Edge in January 2016, largely to favourable reviews for its expandable storage, a dual-pixel camera, battery and always-on display.

In the new entries, Airbnb’s debut on the Top 1000 Brands ranking means it’s only a matter of time before Uber, Netflix and Grab displace more traditional incumbents.

Find the full Campaign Asia Top 1000 ranking here.

2015 in Review: Top 5 Digital in Asia Content

2015 was another exciting year for digital and programmatic in Asia, South East Asia especially.

There is a definite sense that individual markets are outgrowing Singapore as a regional hub – evidenced by rapidly increasing spends at individual market level, and a resurgence in agencies, both local and global, doing outstanding digital work in local markets.

In celebration of the year past, here are the top 5 Digital in Asia articles for 2015.

  1. Asian Brands Must Be More Innovative Than Those in the West

In our most popular piece of content, we talked to Joanna Kalenska, Managing Director at Razorfish Hong Kong, about Asian consumers, brands’ challenges and opportunities.

2. APAC Social and Mobile Usage Surge in 2015

The ever comprehensive We Are Social Annual Report highlighted robust growth for social, digital and mobile in the region over 2015.

3. A Quick Guide to Social Media in China

Ogilvy released the latest in their guides to Social Media in China highlighting the (mostly) differences but sometimes surprising similarities to global platforms.

4. Digital Savvy but Shy: How Vietnam’s Generation Z is Making Brands Work Harder

A report from market research company Epinion and OMD looking at Generation Z in Vietnam. Numbering 14 million, and with an average monthly disposable income of 112 USD – significant in this emerging market – these consumers are incredibly valuable for brands.

5. 2015 in Preview: Top 10 APAC Digital Trends 2015

2015 promised to be an exciting year for Digital Marketing and Media in Asia. These were the ten trends that, in DIA’s view, would change online advertising over the last year. How many did we get right?! Don’t worry, we’ll be right back very soon with another 10 trends for 2016.