Tag Archives: south korea

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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Half of APAC Smartphone Users Now Shopping on their Device

The latest MasterCard Mobile Shopping Survey covering Asia Pacific finds consumers embracing the convenience of mobile shopping. Almost half of consumers – around 45% in total – made a purchase using their smartphone in the three months preceding the survey.

Exactly 50% of respondents across Asia Pacific cited convenience as the most compelling reason for shopping on their smartphone. Other motivating factors include the ability to shop on the go and the growing availability of apps that make it easy to shop online.

Fig 1: % consumers who have made a purchase using a smartphone
2014 2013 2012
Asia Pacific 46% 39% 35%
Korea 54% 48% 40%
China 70% 59% 54%
Thailand 59% 51% 51%
Hong Kong 38% 40% 41%
Taiwan 62% 45% 28%
Singapore 37% 31% 40%
Vietnam 45% 35% 34%
Indonesia 55% 47% 55%
India 63% 47% 30%
Malaysia 46% 32% 25%
Philippines 34% 33% 21%
Japan 26% 23% 26%
New Zealand 21% 15% 18%
Australia 20% 25% 19%

In addition to using their mobile phones to make purchases, shoppers in the region are also using it to compare prices between physical and online stores. Close to half (45%) of respondents have conducted price comparisons, with a similar proportion (44%) also stating that they have conducted research online prior to making a purchase in-store.

Overall, consumers from China (70%), India (63%) and Taiwan (62%) are the most likely to shop using their smartphones with the most popular mobile shopping purchases amongst Asia Pacific shoppers include clothing and accessories (27%), followed by apps (21%) and daily deal coupons (19%).

Asia Pacific consumers are also adopting new mobile technologies, with 28% of respondents saying that they use mobile banking apps. Group buying apps (40%) and digital wallets (28%) are the most popular amongst Chinese consumers.

Increased smartphone ownership is clearly having a massive impact on the way people across Asia Pacific shop and spend. Brands and online shopping portals need to continue to develop easy and simple ways to browse and pay, as convenience remains paramount to consumers whether they are shopping on their phones or in-store.

APAC, the $6bn Mobile gaming opportunity

With close to $6 billion revenue, Asia Pacific is the largest mobile gaming market in the world. Led by Japan, China and South Korea, the category is still growing at 25% annually across the region.

We chat to Jun Lim, Senior Business Development Manager and Lison Chen, Senior Account Manager at AppLift about this promising yet “very fragmented” market opportunity.

DIA: What are the biggest challenges for mobile game advertising in Asia?

JL & LC: The Asian market is very fragmented. Each market is different in terms of language, culture, and economic levels. Advertisers in different markets have different levels of understanding regarding the business model and traffic sources of mobile advertising, and traffic is still centralized by either big international players such as Facebook, Google, and Inmobi or local players such as Wechat in China, KakaoTalk in Korea, and Line in Japan. It is important to understand the situation and preferences in each country, and have a localized strategy to better satisfy the advertisers’ needs and wants.

What are the key opportunities?

The Asian market is still growing. Due to the rise of smartphone penetration and shipments, especially in Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, we continue to see rapidly growing markets in South East Asia. Mid-mature markets such as Korea, Japan, and China are the top countries in terms of revenue in Google Play and App Stores. Mobile marketing trend is changing rapidly into performance-driven, meaning that it is possible to do campaign with measurable numbers.

How is AppLift positioning itself in the region? Which markets have the strongest potential?

AppLift positions itself as a data-driven app marketing platform that helps advertisers to handle the full spectrum of user acquisition. Additionally, AppLift highlights its LTV optimization technology that enables quality user acquisition on a performance basis. For example, in Korea, AppLift ran a non-incentive marketing campaign for RealFarm, a mobile farming game from NeoGames that delivered real vegetables to a few users who reached a certain level. AppLift focused on this interesting aspect of the game, and few months after the campaign, the fact that the game delivers real veggies went on viral through AppLift’s various media partners, resulting in a ROI of 1200%. It was a result of both NeoGames’ well-developed game contents and AppLift’s marketing strategy.

Do you see clients using mobile for brand driven campaigns? How do you position the connection between mobile and other media?

Branding can definitely help to increase the performances of mobile game advertising. Supercell, for example, spent millions of dollars on branded advertising for its game Clash of Clans across multiple channels such as metro, OOH and TV in Korea. Supercell’s massive promotion earned the game the number 1 position in the gross chart on Korea’s Google play even without using [the mobile platform] KakaoTalk. After the success of CoC, it has become quite a norm in Korea to do a huge scale branding / offline campaigns as in the case of mobile games such as Summoners War and Line Rangers. Mobile is such an real time channel in this sense, and brands are really getting to grips with the connection to other media.

Mobile ads have a reputation for low – or at least hard to track – performance. How does AppLift overcome this? Is data a big part of your positioning?

Based on big data, AppLift’s programmatic buying algorithm can target only the relevant audiences and content for a certain game. It can optimize campaigns and target performance improvements against CTR or revenue. These data driven techniques are very standard to advertising globally, and it is great to bring them at scale to APAC markets.

What is AppLift’s strategy to take on the APAC market?

With advanced technologies and know-how in each Asian market, AppLift plans to provide one-stop advertising/user acquisition services to advertisers. Our goal is to help advertisers connect their games/apps to the targeted Asian markets effectively through our technology, data and services.

What is your advice for brand marketers in one sentence?

Asian markets are sexy but challenging. Brand marketers should prepare various advertising strategies to adapt to local markets.

Thank you.

Ecommerce in Emerging Asia

Ecommerce is very much in the news at the moment, with Rocket Internet launching their month long online promotion across Lazada, Zalora and Foodpanda, ebay launching in Indonesia, and mobile ecommerce projected to hit $2.4bn revenue in Singapore by 2015. Continue reading Ecommerce in Emerging Asia

Mobile Consumer Insights and Research for Asia

It is not easy to find Mobile research, consumer insights and stats for Asia. However, there are two sources that stand out in terms of their comprehensive coverage of Mobile for the region, including local markets. Continue reading Mobile Consumer Insights and Research for Asia

Digital Benchmarking and Measurement

“How much should we be paying per like on Facebook?” or “What is a good CTR for a display campaign?” are questions that will be familiar to anyone working in Digital. Benchmarks are a constant topic of discussion, and it’s only natural that we want to understand whether we are doing better or worse than everyone else.

It is not easy to find Asia specific benchmarks, but this post is a fairly comprehensive list of all the resources available. Where there are no local benchmarks, more general industry specific or global benchmarks can still help us understand performance, so we have included the best of these. Continue reading Digital Benchmarking and Measurement

Social Media in Asia

The most comprehensive and easily digestible source of social media information for Asia is to be found courtesy of We Are Social Singapore. They have a series of presentations covering key stats for almost all the Asian markets.

Here’s the latest Asia summary: Continue reading Social Media in Asia

Welcome to Digital in Asia

This site and the Digital in Asia community is for everyone who works in Digital across Asia.

With your help we hope to become the place to find resources and insight for Digital marketing, media and advertising.

We are active across Facebook,Twitter, and Linkedin so please connect with us there to stay up to date.

When we started this site, we had a couple of core ideas in mind. To help educate and connect those in Digital in Asia.

  • Educate – Asia’s Digital marketing, media and advertising landscape is evolving quickly, but there is a a lack of knowledge sharing, both across markets, and in terms of introducing global learnings. This education process is an essential part of scaling Digital. We want this site to be the “go to” location for the Digital resources you need, whatever your role in the Digital ecosystem.
  • Connect – Welcome to programmatic media traders, digital strategists, biddable media managers and social content executives from all over Asia. These are jobs that barely existed a few years, even a few months ago. In Asia we stand at the start of a huge and exciting change in marketing, media and advertising. However, beyond the major regional hubs such as Singapore or Hong Kong, there is little sense of this as a larger industry shift. Digital communities in Jakarta, Bangkok, HCMC and beyond will grow at an amazing rate over the coming years. We want to capture a sense of excitement and shared purpose.

That’s it. Hope you enjoy the site, please visit us on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin, or sign up for our newsletter. and feel free to get in touch if you have any thoughts on how we could be doing things better. Remember, this site is for you, the Digital community. If we’re not relevant, we’re not doing things right.