iKorea: Media Reps – Past, Present, and Future

iKorea is a new column by Soyoon Bach, a Digital Marketing professional in Seoul, covering developments in the Korean digital ecosystem.

If you work in advertising in Korea, you will most definitely have heard of the term “rep sa.” “Rep” is short for “representative” and “sa” in Korean means “company.” This is a shortened phrase for agencies that Koreans refer to as “media representatives.” So what exactly are media reps?

The general hierarchy of the Korean digital advertising landscape goes like this:

Advertiser → Ad Agency → Media Rep → Publishers

Simply put, media reps act as liaisons between agencies and publishers. They arrange the sale of media inventory on behalf of advertisers (or agencies). Media reps also provide media plans, intricate reporting, optimization recommendations, updates about the newest publishers and ad types, etc. Many media reps have proprietary technologies that make setting up ads easier, provide key insights, and run ads more efficiently.

The first ever media rep can be traced back to 1980 with the establishment of KOBACO. They were resellers for TV ad inventory and became the sole entity to control all the domestic TV ad inventory. They retained their power until a constitutional court ruled this as illegal monopolistic practice.

Since then, Korea has diversified its media rep offerings and media reps have especially become a key player in the complicated world of digital advertising. Usually, ad agencies don’t have the time or resources to keep contact with every single publisher or media platform out there and know which ones are best for their needs. This is where media reps come in. They synthesize all media-related information and updates and provide agencies with the insights they need. They let us know which creative is best served on which platform. Some platforms also have strict inventory booking processes. There are minimum spends, minimum ad periods, and cancellation fees. Media reps keep track of these processes and give ad agencies a heads up when they think certain bookings will become an issue.

The initial idea of media reps started out as a broker, a simple reseller. Now, they have evolved to so much more. They are media agencies for ad agencies, providing critical services that they can’t get from publishers directly. For instance, if an ad agency is working with multiple media platforms without a media rep, it’ll be up to them to individually communicate and negotiate with the publishers, set up the ads, aggregate the data, and compile the reporting. However, when you go through a media rep, they provide all these services for you so that you can spend more time tending to your clients.

Because this is such a common practice that’s taken for granted, it’s easy to forget that there are actually no regulations in place regarding this process. There’s no restrictions preventing agencies from bypassing media reps and going directly to the publishers. Similarly, there’s nothing to stop media reps from reaching out directly to advertisers. However, this practice continues to exist because this breakdown and distribution of tasks lets everyone do their jobs more easily.

A client can have one contact point for all their media dealings (the agency) instead of having to individually contact the publishers. Agencies can also focus more on making creatives and strategizing on the overarching direction of the campaigns. Media reps gain more clients and without much effort by teaming up with an agency and publishers also have the same benefits by teaming up with a media rep. The benefits are so real that Korean publishers will also pay back some of the money to media reps or agencies as a sales commission. And this commission could be as high as 20%.

For how much longer this model will persist, only time can tell. But media reps are already starting to feel the onset of programmatic media buying as a threat to their business. Global agencies are receiving pressures from their global headquarters to implement systems such as DBM and manage it internally, taking some business away from media reps. Media reps are frantically trying to develop their programmatic departments so that agencies will still be incentivized to use them for these services.

What’s for sure is that we’re hitting another disruptive phase in digital advertising and how media reps will fit into this picture is still to be determined.

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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 – http://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 http://www.great.gov.uk.

 

Interaction 2017: Group M Global Digital Forecasts

Each year GroupM publishes its overview and speculations on the state of digital marketing and its implications for advertisers. This year’s report – Interaction 2017  predicts that in 2017 digital’s share of ad investment in the developing world will at last have caught up with the developed world, to around 33%.

10 countries have already witnessed digital overtake TV, with a further five expected in 2017, two from APAC; France, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Interaction 2017

In 2017 it’s challenging to discriminate digital marketing from all marketing. Consumers barely separate their digital and analog lives; little media is published in only analog form and enterprises infuse digital processes into every aspect of their organisations.

However, it’s probably true to say that marketing strategy and marketing services remain more siloed than consumer behaviour, and equally true that marketing and sales organisations remain more separated than they should be given the collapse of the purchase funnel.

5 Steps to Capture the Valentine’s Day Dollar

With Valentine’s Day hot on the heels of Chinese New Year – itself coming about a month after Christmas – there have been and will be great opportunities for retailers to capture the gift-giving market. Yet, it’s been well publicized that the retail industry is flagging, with data showing that the average vacancy rate of suburban malls, has doubled from less than 1 per cent in 2013 to 2.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The problem is that we’re no longer in an era of business as usual. Retailers cannot employ the same tactics which have worked for years and expect customers to come flocking back. In today’s age, customer experience is the new currency. The strategy of leveraging products to gain a competitive advantage is obsolete when you are fighting with “everything stores” like Amazon and Alibaba which offer almost infinite choice and cheaper prices. When everything is available all the time, at any price, experience is the remaining true differentiator

How can retailers generate powerful experiences to capture today’s new customers (and their Valentine’s day gifting dollar)? It’s a journey to get from being a product-based business to an experience-based business. In its recent “Path of Experience” report, Adobe sheds insights on the 5 milestones to experience-driven commerce:

  1. Segmentation: The first milestone on the journey is to truly know one’s audience. They exist, but the challenge is in finding them, and defining them. Not by demographics, but through shared attributes and behaviours. In practical terms, this allows a retailer to reach many individuals with a collective message and expect a certain desirable result. Each audience has to be large enough to make a difference in revenues, but small enough to be distinct. The answer to this is big data – be it through first party, second or even third party data. This is where a data management platform comes in, pooling all this information so retailers can experiment with traits that help them find these natural groupings
  1. Personalization: With the data, you can now create a special and specific experience for each audience segment. Wooing a customer with a one-sized-fits-all approach is no longer effective today, akin to giving a girl roses when she in fact prefers lilies. Whilst personalization is nothing new, today’s difference is that it can be delivered at scale using automation. By using the digital fingerprints that customers leave behind after every interaction, retailers can build a progressive personal profile that allows them to understand how customers feel, what they do, and ultimately, what customers want.
  1. Omnichannel: Now that retailers have gotten the ability to achieve customer intimacy, the third experience milestone is putting those relevant, personalized experiences where they count. Different customers use channels in different ways—without differentiating between touchpoints and channels, inbound and outbound. The consumer is everywhere. Retailers need to be there as well. And the best way to do this is via the mobile – the most personal device ever. Because of this, mobile often serves as a second-screen or cross-channel resource especially in brick-and-mortar selling. This opens the door for intelligent contextual marketing, where mobile is viewed as a behavior rather than a separate channel or technology. Because the behavior is constant, brick-and-mortar retailers can use mobile to augment the store experience, using various technologies.
  1. Dynamic Content: Experience-driven commerce requires that retailer reimagine what shopping looks like. It’s more about telling a story rather than telling the customer why they should buy the product, instilling a perception of increased value that differentiates from the competition. Dynamic content and shoppable media can bridge that gap, using the latest tools to tell compelling stories that take buyers straight to the checkout line. A great example of this implementation is Amazon Go – reducing barriers to commerce to make shopping a breeze
  1. Real-Time Analytics: As no two customers will share the same purchase journey, it’s important to always know where customers are at. Real-time data allows retailers to watch over the customer’s shoulder, understand the journey and smooth out any rough spots. It makes it easier for retailers to lead the customer from awareness to conversion. Analytics also provides optimization opportunities – and the chance to fine-tune the customer journey through a simple three step process: Measure (customer interactions), Adjust and Improve (the customer journey).

While the journey might sound a bit daunting at the outset, the key is to start small, move forward, and not stagnate. By carefully evaluating their ability to act on the five capabilities described above, retailers should get a better idea of where they need to go. And as they do, the customer experience will surely improve.

For more information, please download the full report here.

4 Social Media Developments to Watch

A lot has changed in the world of social media, but we think these four points deserve a special mention:

The NYTimes Joins Snapchat Discover
In seeing the most respected investigative publisher join Snapchat’s ad-supported channel, publishers the world over are on a hiring spree to replicate The NYT’s move to Snapchat Discover. Snapchat launched Discover two years ago as a tab for long-form content and journalism beyond social media. In a world where Facebook’s Instant Articles feature is largely viewed as a boon to the industry, Snapchat’s Discover tab offers publishers the option of revenue sharing.

Facebook Upends Snapchat’s IPO
Within the month of announcing its plan for an IPO, Snapchat saw a hit in its user engagement numbers as Facebook rolled out a copy of its stories feature. Investor confidence was also shaken by the emergence of allegations that its numbers are off. We don’t expect the pain to last as the same revelations on Facebook’s numbers did little to dissuade investors and advertisers.

Combating Misleading and/or Fake News
It’s always been around and in some cases, it has been profitable, by either flagrantly making up a story or using click bait in the headlines, fake news is nothing new. But since losing the election, liberal media has entered a sand storm decrying fake news as one of the tools that swayed the outcome. The tech industry, largely instilled with liberal values, has chosen sides with Facebook and Google tackling the issue head on. Facebook will be revising its social media trending feature and aim to provide users the sources of publisher’s news. Google, on the other hand, has banished over 200 publishers from its AdSense network for the crime of creating and publishing fake news. Snapchat also stepped up by penalizing content creators that promise content in the headline but redirect to unrelated sites.

Reviving Twitter’s Use Experience
We’ve already talked about why no one is buying Twitter anytime soon, despite all the presidential attention it’s getting. The social media company is doing its best to roll out relevant changes in its usability. The latest of which is a switch from “Moments” tab to an Explore tab instead. Featuring trending topics and live video, the tab will be curated by Twitter’s editors. In a world of rebates focused digital media planning, this may not be enough for Twitter to get back on the horse. Bringing back Jack Dorsey gave the company credibility, but robbing him of executive power has not been. It remains to be seen how digital planners view the change.

Sourav Ganguly is the chief media officer at Centric DXB. He leads teams across digital media buying & planning, performance marketing, eCommerce conversions and search optimization. He can be reached on sourav.ganguly@centric.ae

The New Digital Advertising Ecosystem Part 7: Programmatic Direct and Private Marketplaces

Private Marketplaces, also known as PMPs, are places where publishers offer their ad inventory to a selected group of advertisers. You may also hear buying in Private Marketplaces referred to as:

  • Programmatic Premium
  • Programmatic Direct
  • Programmatic Guaranteed
  • Programmatic Reserved
  • Preferred Deals
  • Private Auctions

Don’t worry, these are all basically the same thing – just different flavours of PMP.

Programmatic Direct combines the best of direct sales with the targeting and automation benefits of programmatic. PMPs are now a popular method of programmatic trading.

For publishers, PMPs give tighter control on which kinds of advertisers and creatives will be displayed on their site or app, while not having to manage individual advertisers like they would in a direct buy.

For buyers, PMPs allow access to premium quality inventory, and all the bespoke benefits of working directly with a seller – but also allow use of data, targeting and reporting from a single DSP dashboard.

Typically CPMs are higher in a PMP because premium advertisers are competing for the highest quality ad inventory on very reputable digital properties.

Each type of PMP does a specific job for buyers or sellers.

programmatic-as-a-means-to-meeting-your-marketing-goals-by-darragh-daunt-incisive-create-ad-effectiveness-16-638

This is a great video from sovrn that covers RTB v PMPs and Programmatic Direct in a little more detail.

Make sure you read the earlier articles in this series to understand basic concepts of programmatic.

Digital in Asia 2017 Overview

Digital growth accelerated over the previous 12 months in Asia Pacific, with internet users up 15% to pass the 1.9 billion mark. There are now also 4 billion mobile phone subscriptions across APAC, a penetration rate of 96%.

These findings have exciting implications for businesses, governments, and society, but they are also testament to the speed with which digital (and mobile) connectivity is changing the lives of people in the region.

More than 1.4 billion Asian consumers now use social media on a monthly basis, with 95% of them accessing platforms via mobile devices – the highest ratio in the world.

Digital in 2017: Southeast Asia

Digital in 2017: Eastern Asia

Digital in 2017: Southern Asia

Digital in 2017: Australia, New Zealand & The Pacific

Source: We Are Social

Augmented Reality and Machine Learning to Impact Marketing in 2017

2016 was an eventful year for marketers: New technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) captured the imaginations of marketers globally – as Nintendo’s new AR offering, Pokémon Go, took the world by storm. 2016 was also a big year for digital transformation (DX), as enterprises rapidly prioritised DX at the center of their corporate strategy, and marketers rapidly embraced data analytics in order to drive marketing decisions.

marta-adobeMarta DeBellis, Adobe APAC Vice President of Marketing offers her views on some big milestones and game changers that will shape the digital marketing landscape, as we move into 2017.

1. AR, VR and Machine Learning will continue to have an impact in 2017:

  • The emergence of technologies like AR, VR and machine learning will shape marketing in 2017 and beyond. AR and VR will change the way marketers can engage with customers and drive experiences beyond what is possible today. AR and VR will change the way marketers can engage with customers and drive experiences beyond what is possible today. The challenge for marketers will be to learn how to create content for these formats to fully leverage the opportunities they offer.
  • Machine learning and data science will offer significant productivity opportunities for marketers, allowing them to focus their time on their overall strategies and away from day-to-day analytics and data management. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have become ubiquitous in the technology industry, and a lot of great work has been done to build out horizontal frameworks to solve large-scale problems – from accurate speech recognition to computer vision.
  • We recently introduced Adobe Sensei, a framework and set of intelligent services, with deep expertise in AI, machine learning and deep learning, built into the Adobe Cloud Platform which dramatically improve the design and delivery of digital experiences.
  • Understanding how customers are consuming video content remains an opportunity for marketers in 2017. Video has been the ‘next big thing’ for several years now and I don’t think marketers have it all figured out yet. Marketers will get one more shot at leveraging this opportunity fully next year. Adobe’s acquisition of TubeMogul shows our focus on video in marketing campaigns. It will create the first end-to-end independent advertising and data management solution that spans TV and digital formats, simplifying what has been a complex and fragmented process for brands.

2. Competitive advantage (through exceptional CX) will be the biggest driver of digital transformation

  • Competitive advantage is the biggest driver of digital transformation and underlying that is customer experience. 
  • Customer experience is the new competitive differentiator of success and is separating those brands which are pushing ahead with transformation, and those trapped in a business model of yesterday. Today’s digital landscape is overflowing with people interacting across multiple devices, whether it’s mobile devices, wearables, tablets or even car dashboards. When new products and innovation come onto the market, people want to be able to use it. The increased expectations of consumers have brought us to a tipping point where experience must be at the center of everything brands do.
  • In 2017 marketers need to walk in the shoes of customers and truly understand the experience their brand is offering. Customers are interacting with brands across many different touchpoints and marketers need to be aware of how this experience affects the overall customer journey.

3. Digital marketers must still place emphasis on creativity.

  • Data has given marketers the power to demonstrate ROI and drive business growth. However, it’s crucial they remember that creativity still plays a significant role. Creating amazing content that is personal and emotive is key to delivering incredible customer experiences.
  • Creativity and design-led thinking are central to business success. Adobe’s 2016 Creative Pulse survey highlights an overwhelming number of respondents who think so. 89% of APAC respondents say their businesses are placing more importance on creativity and design thinking. 56% of APAC respondents feel that they are creating a bigger impact within their organizations, compared to two years ago.
  • Content velocity – being able to create amazing content quickly, and at scale, should also be a focus for marketers in 2017. The key is to not make more content, but to make content more personalized and engaging.

News and Industry Resources for Digital Marketing and Media in Asia.