Tag Archives: technology

How Blockchain Technology is Reshaping the Future of Global Payments

Since the creation of Bitcoin in 2009, cryptocurrency has been touted as the future of banking, payments and financial services. And the future of every other global industry obviously.

Sometimes blockchain use-cases can seem a little bit of a stretch, but for financial services at least, a fintech fuelled, cryptocurrency, blockchain and smart contract enabled future looks realistic.

In a number of ways, blockchain technologies offer advantages over the current financial system. A case in point is foreign exchange, one of the key speculative use cases for the blockchain maximalist: in short, it’s difficult, expensive and slow to send $10,000 overseas using our current system of banking; but it’s easy, cheap and fast to send the equivalent amount in cryptocurrency, free from foreign exchange fees, in just seconds. But no one has actually proved out this use case. Yet.

Enter Singapore startup TenX. They’ve created a global credit card, using blockchain technology to take advantage of fast and cheap foreign exchange, but running on existing MasterCard and Visa infrastructure to ensure payment is easy and scalable.

On the front end users can make payments anywhere Visa or Mastercard are accepted. On the back end, the credit card is linked to a cryptocurrency wallet, meaning assets are held in Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin. TenX instantly converts the cryptocurrencies stored in the wallet into the native fiat currency when a transaction is made, whatever the location.

A few weeks back Digital in Asia met with Toby Hoenisch, one of the founders of TenX, to talk about their ambitious vision to become the only platform necessary to create a bridge between cryptocurrency and existing global payment systems.

Toby Hoenisch_TenX Co-founder & CEO_photo
Tobey Hoenisch, CEO & Co-founder, TenX

Digital in Asia: Good to catch up Toby. Is it true that you launched your first start-up four years ago? That’s pretty early for blockchain.

Toby Hoenisch: Back then, we pitched another startup, not blockchain. It was the same co-founders or partially the same co-founders anyway. It never went anywhere but we learned a lot of lessons back then.

DIA: What were the biggest lessons?

TB: Get users. Don’t just build and hope for the best.

DIA: That’s solid advice for any startup! So, when did TenX kick off?

TB: Three years ago. And that was still quite early for blockchain, three years ago. I’ve been in the blockchain space for five, six years. Part of the funding we used for the previous startup was through early gains and Bitcoin. I’m not a trillionaire right now like how I might wish, because we spent all the Bitcoin we had back then on the previous startup. But we’re doing quite well for our company, so it’s all goo

DIA: What was the inspiration behind TenX?

TB: Connecting the blockchain and crypto world with the real world. Three years ago, it was still crypto-geeks and nerds like myself, and everyone else was like, “What the heck is this?” And it was really disconnected. We wanted to bring the benefits of cryptocurrency to real people. And the first thing to solve is making it spendable.

DIA: Can you just quickly detail what TenX does and the value proposition?

TB: TenX makes cryptocurrency expendable. We have a cryptocurrency wallet. You deposit Bitcoin, Ethereum, tokens – whatever it is – and we give you a debit card that you can attach to your wallet, and then spend it anywhere in the world where Visa and Mastercard are accepted.

DIA: In many ways, you’re moving into an area that is almost the inverse of cryptocurrency, certainly ideologically. And payments are also seeing more regulation recently.

TB: You’re right, it can be complex. But what we do is simple. We’re basically the bridge to the real world of payments. Right now, we have Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. But our goal is to get to 200 cryptocurrency and tokens ready for payments within another year.

DIA: And what do you think is the future of the payment space in the short and long-term? Who will be the big winners and losers?

TB: Very early to tell. Depends on the timeframe. We’re still so early in crypto that what we do actually makes sense. Because we connect this new industry to the existing payment rails that are out there. Visa, Mastercard, maybe UnionPay or Alipay in the future. You have to remember, merchants don’t care about crypto right now because there are not enough users out there. Merchants care about revenue first. So for the next five years, I think it will be players like us bridging crypto to existing payment rails. But once you have sufficient penetration on the general population, you actually can do peer to peer payments. And then you can actually directly own merchant payment relationships. Our business will have to change and adapt because there are major interests betting on those legacy players. Crypto will disrupt, but it will take a while, and it may shape up quite differently to how it looks now.

DIA: So what does the future look like for Visa and Mastercard?

TB: They will still be around for a long time. Simply because they’re already there. But they will have to lower their fees to compete with crypto, and the channels will change. The cards themselves have a ten-year shelf life. You might still be paying using Visa payment rails in the future, but you’ll use your phone or other technology. The terminal will still stick around for a while.

DIA: TenX is based in Singapore. How many people do you have? How have you found Singapore as a place to set up a blockchain business?

TB: We have 60 people in total at TenX, and 80% are based here in Singapore. We’re a global company. Crypto is always global. We do have a big user base in Europe. Mainly because three of the four co-founders are Austrian. We have a very strong German-speaking user base. Singapore is good because it’s a relatively friendly regulatory environment. It was a bit of a bet three years ago as a place to build a cryptocurrency finance app in Asia, but today, it turns out it’s one of the top countries to be as a cryptocurrency business.

DIA: How many users do you have and how fast is your growth?

TB: Maybe I should share that we had a bit of a setback earlier in the year. We launched our cards last year, and we scaled really quickly to 200,000 users towards the end of the year, and then our partner bank lost their license. Their Visa license. So our card stopped working. And now we’re working with five different insurers to deliver a live product. So the growth metrics don’t make sense at this point. We are on it. We have new insurers. We have multiple strategies, and we’re trying to get our own license so we don’t have to worry about that anyway.

DIA: Something similar happened to Coinhako, in that their fiat on and off ramps got locked down. Was your issue a Singapore problem, or a global problem?

TB: No. It was a European bank, actually. The good side to that is that this specific payment bank was also the issuer for many of our competitors. So now we know that 200,000 is not the market users. The market is way bigger than that, and all of those users are waiting for a card.

DIA: Who wants to spend their crypto? The market is so focused around HODL right now.

TB: That’s looking at it in reverse. Of course, a lot of people still look at crypto as an investment and hope it should go up. Our users have passed this step, and are like, “I don’t want the old world.” Because there is more friction in the old world than there is in the new world.

Even though the crypto world is still smaller, the financial services you can access here are still less in number than in the old world, this is changing rapidly. And advanced users want to stay in this world.

Some of them, yes, they want to get the maximum upside, but they stay in this world because it’s a more seamless experience everywhere on the planet. And we just add payments to that, so you don’t have to actually go back.

DIA: How do they get their crypto in the first place?

TB: They are already in this world.

DIA: Sure, but unless they’re mining, sitting on a massive pot of crypto which they’re spending bit by bit, or they get paid in crypto, they’re still going to be operating in the non-crypto world. They’re still going to have a bank account where real money can come in. How many people are 100% in the crypto world right now?

TB: We pay salaries in Bitcoin for a lot of people. It’s just so much more convenient. If you run an international company, a small one, you can’t figure out payroll in every country in the world. That’s hard. Bitcoin solves that problem, super easy.

DIA: Cool. Do you think that supports the Bitcoin store-of-value argument?

TB: I mean, Bitcoin has a volatility problem, which is one of the things that people don’t like, or don’t want to put all their money in it, which is a very valid point. In the crypto world, Bitcoin is still the strongest store of value. If it’s the one you should bet on depends on your personal situation. I would say everybody should have some money in the crypto space, some Bitcoin, and then allocate, whatever.

DIA: So, at the moment, you’re a bridge between cryptocurrency and the world of ‘real’ money. Do you have your own token to facilitate this?

TB: Yes. We have the PAY Token, and we launched token sale last year, June. And we continued to work on the exact model, mainly because the regulators keep changing the rules, but yeah. It’s been working very good. When you compare a token sale or a token, compared to venture capital, venture capital, you get around one, two, three investors. Hopefully, they’re all strategic, which they never are, maybe one.

Or you have like us, 50,000 token holders, probably most of them are users. They’re directly related to you. They will tell you what you do wrong. They will care. They will come to your user testing. It’s just so much better. That’s the huge upside that a token sale can do that venture capital just cannot do. Base it on your boredom, hopefully, you pick the right guy to tell you what to do, but maybe one or two. You have 50,000.

DIA: And that community markets for you as well, and they’re influencers.

TB: Yes. Of course. It just goes hand in hand. It’s like, token holders and users, it becomes like a community form of money, or token, or whatever you want to call it. And it incentivizes people to really stick with us.

DIA: That’s awesome Toby. Thanks very much. Very interesting discussion.

TB: Yeah. Thanks for the chat.

The State of Programmatic Advertising in Japan

Jason Fairchild
Jason Fairchild, Co-founder, OpenX

Digital in Asia asked Jason Fairchild, Co-Founder of OpenX, one of the largest global sell-side platforms, to tell us about the state of programmatic advertising in Japan.

Digital in Asia: How is the Japanese market approaching programmatic advertising? Is Japan ahead, behind, or just different compared to other global programmatic markets?

Jason Fairchild: Programmatic is taking off in Japan, however, the market is still in its nascent stages, and spend is lower than other markets, such as the US and China. Despite this, more marketers than ever are using the technology to boost reach, relevance and impact, and a recent study from PwC predicts that the increasing demand for programmatic technology is set to push Japan’s media market to US$170 billion by 2020.

It’s not surprising that programmatic is growing as the technology streamlines the buying and selling of online ad space, allowing publishers to efficiently monetize their online content and brands to execute audience-based buying at scale – that is, putting the right message in front of the right user at the right time at massive scale. With investment in online ads expected to increase by more than US$3 billion, marketers will benefit from leveraging this technology to make their advertising more efficient.

DIA: How is OpenX addressing the issue of quality in digital advertising?

JF: As programmatic grows in Japan, it’s important to ensure the advertising ecosystem remains a clean and safe place in which to do business. In 2018 alone, OpenX is investing US$25 million in different quality-assurance measures, and we’re making sure we comply with industry recognised quality standards and have received independent certification for our efforts.

It’s important to note, however, that there are steps that everybody can take to take to stamp out bad practices and tackle fraud. Technology companies, marketers, publishers and every other part of the supply chain all play a role in solving for the quality issues across the industry.

With the recent emergence of new industry standards and initiatives, marketers are now at a point where they can make informed decisions about their technology partners, based on the partners’ commitment to quality.

One example is the IAB’s ads.txt initiative, which has nearly stamped out the threat of domain spoofing, also known as misrepresented domains, and dramatically increased clarity in the supply chain by public record of who is authorized to sell a publisher’s inventory. Another is third-party certification with Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a cross-industry accountability program to create transparency in the business relationships and transactions in digital advertising. Technology companies who meet the stringent standards for certification outlined by TAG earn a seal of approval, and because these demonstrate good practice among vendors, these standards can help buyers and sellers make better decisions on technology partnerships. But it’s important to note that these quality controls are not automatic – they require proactive choice by buyers.

DIA: Mobile now accounts for half of all digital ad spend in Japan. What does this mean for advertisers?

JF: More Japanese consumers own smartphones than ever before, so it’s not surprising to see users spend more time on mobile devices, which in turn drives a marked shift in content consumption towards mobile. Advertisers and publishers have picked up on this trend and now understand that mobile has become the place where consumers spend a majority of their time, and they must adjust their digital strategies accordingly.

To effectively take advantage of this growing channel, advertisers will need to incorporate a range of mobile-specific ad formats and move aggressively away from the desktop-first mentality that most of them have been using. This includes building creative that considers the smaller screen sizes and leveraging rich location data to add more context to their campaigns. On the other hand, publishers must also think about screen size and the user experience to ensure that users aren’t bombarded with too many ads or ones that impede a users’ ability to see or read the content they want.

DIA: Speaking about mobile, what is the future of in-app advertising in Japan and globally?

JF: Quite simply, in-app advertising is the future of mobile advertising. Japanese adults spend three hours and three minutes every day consuming digital media, and in 2017, mobile accounted for more than half of all time spent on digital, so the opportunity is huge.

Studies reveal that the most lucrative in-app ad opportunity is a new innovation called opt-in video, where the consumer is given something of value in exchange for engaging with a video ad. This type of video advertising has proven to be the most consumer-friendly ad format in mobile, and in fact, consumers like it three times more than a non-skippable pre-roll. Completion, viewability and engagement rates are significantly better with opt-in video than other types of mobile video, and the consumer-friendly nature of the ad format makes it a great option for publishers and app developers trying to monetize their content as well.

DIA: What are OpenX’s plans for the wider Asia Pacific region?

JF: Both our Japan and APAC business are continuing to grow. In fact, early this year we announced record new revenue growth in Japan of 52% year-on-year and have signed more than 40 new clients in 2018 alone. The growth derives from us being the largest independent advertising exchange in the country (second only to Google) at a time when programmatic is gaining traction in Japan.

As a result, last quarter we announced that we will be opening our Singapore hub, and plan to move into Australia by the end of Q1 2019. To complement our expansion, we’re committed to growing our team in the Asia Pacific region. We appointed Satoru Yauchi as the director of partner services in the region, who has already played a key leadership role on the team since joining late 2017 and will continue to support us in delivering on our ambitious plans for growth across the region.

Marketing and Consumer Insight Tools from Google

A few useful free tools from Google that will help you understand your business, research competitors and add loads of value to your clients and prospects.

Consumer Barometer

The Consumer Barometer is a tool to help you understand how people use the Internet across the world. Consumer level insight data across multiple markets.

Google Trends

Explore what the world is searching and compare the trends.

PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights reports on the real-world performance of a page for mobile and desktop devices and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved.

Think With Google

Uncover the latest marketing research and digital trends with data reports, guides, infographics, and articles from Think with Google.

Keyword Planner

Google Ads Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool that allows you to find the right keywords to target for display ads, search ads, video ads, and app ads.

Google Surveys

Create, launch, and analyze surveys and perform market research. Google Surveys offers the ability to survey your own website or a panel of more than 10 million online respondents.

‘Advertising at a Crossroads’ as AI the new Focus for Marketers

Arshan Saha Xaxis APAC President
By Arshan Saha, President APAC, Xaxis

There’s been a lot of scepticism recently about where advertising is headed. Online advertising has seen massive growth over the past decade thanks to its flexibility, transparency and measurability—not to mention the ROI. But with this growth comes a new challenge: more than before, marketers must fight to break through the clutter and connect with their target audiences. The rise of obtrusive and irrelevant ads on the web has led to a concurrent surge in ad-blocking software as consumers become frustrated with or indifferent to the content bombarding them. In response, some of advertising’s biggest spenders have started to shift their focus back to real-world tactics such as experiential marketing. This leaves advertising at a tricky crossroads, and got me thinking: Will digital advertising always remain an important instrument in a company’s marketing toolbox? And as an advertising company, how can and should we push advertising to adapt if we believe it to be the way forward?

Xaxis wholeheartedly believes that digital advertising needs to deliver tangible results to continue to be relevant, and as such has repositioned to focus its entire offering on client outcomes. The best way to do this was to understand the client’s advertising goal that ties as closely as possible to the true business outcomes they are trying to drive. So what do marketers need to think about and do differently to truly engage consumers and drive measurable business results?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has completely changed what we can achieve in advertising, from media buying and planning, how to achieve set targets, and the metrics used to understand success. As my colleague Sara Robertson, VP of Product Engineering for Xaxis once said: “AI is like a spreadsheet on steroids”. The potential of AI lies in its ability to see the bigger picture. We’ve made AI and machine learning an integral part of our offerings, used to find and define audiences, refine our creative messaging, generate audience personas, and develop bidding strategies, all of which can transform a digital advertising strategy to drive remarkably improved results for clients.

And while it is true that consumers hate interruption, it’s never a bad thing when advertisers are forced to adapt by creating content that consumers enjoy. One example is a creative new type of ad that has emerged in China to play in breaks of TV dramas online. These ads utilize the TV shows’ original content and narrative arcs, and feature the same actors in their on-screen costumes, making the ad almost indistinguishable from the original content to hold the audience’s attention and pique their interest. This type of advertising is expected to surpass 2 billion yuan (US$311 million) in sales revenue this year, up from 800 million yuan in 2016.

Advertising with influencers also holds increasing importance in the marketing mix as a way for brands to create trust and credibility with consumers. Over the last few years, influencer marketing has skyrocketed to the point that it has become a category of its own. The premise for this is that consumers trust people they already follow rather than an obvious advertiser. Brands are therefore working to get attention from consumers by channelling their message through people with extensive and trusting networks, commissioning influencers to co-create ‘native’ content that advertisers can then amplify. All of this shows that content needs to mimic what consumers already enjoy in order to engage, but advertising itself won’t disappear.

At the end of the day, approaches such as experiential marketing can be a highly valuable way for many companies to increase brand exposure and customer loyalty. But they shouldn’t necessarily replace advertising altogether. Marketers need to look at the bigger picture and focus on reaching business objectives by quantifying success with real metrics and conversions—regardless of the marketing tactics they choose to convey their messages. That means connecting with your customers authentically and holistically, wherever they happen to be – though as we know, people are spending more time online now than ever.

For Xaxis, repositioning our offering to focus on client outcomes was the most logical move. To align with a client’s true marketing and business objectives—and deliver results to hit those objectives and maximize ROI—should be the goal of any marketing tactic. What really sets digital advertising apart is its ability to do exactly that, with more transparency, efficiency and measurability than any other approach. For this reason, we don’t see it dying out anytime soon.

Blockchain, IOT and Robotics: The tech future of travel

The latest What the Tech? report from Ying Communications and Catch On details the trends stemming from the crossover between the travel and technology industries. Far from dehumanising travel, these latest technologies are actually making travel experiences richer and more personal.

A few of the key new travel trends covered include:

  • Internet of Things (IoT) — With IoT, travellers can wake up to the scent of a perfect cup of coffee at the click of a button. Hotels can program showers to come on at an optimal temperature to help guests kickstart their day.
  • Blockchain — Imagine travelling to an airport, catching a plane, arriving at a hotel and walking straight to the room without ever encountering a single queue or having to share any personal information. This could soon be a reality with the adoption of blockchain based biometric devices
  • Robotics — Many believe there’s no replacing the human customer service agent. Or is there? Robots are already guiding passengers and cleaning up after them in Korea’s Incheon Airport and ferrying baggage autonomously across England’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports.

Check out the full report:

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.

WhatsApp Image 2018-08-29 at 11.15.42

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.

Audio Advertising: Finding the Proverbial Needle in the Haystack

Joanna Wong, Head of Business Marketing, APAC, Spotify_1
by Joanna Wong, Head of Business Marketing, Spotify, APAC

Today, consumers are constantly bombarded with messages from every platform available on a daily basis. However, as marketers, we need to ask the question, is this truly effective?

Content marketing in the age of data often focuses on understanding what people are doing rather than how they are feeling. Consumer decisions rely heavily on emotions they experience too.

With that in mind, it is important for advertising and marketing executives to understand the importance of the change that is happening in the industry.

The wind of change is here

With today’s Generation Z defining what is mainstream, brands need to open to change and one way of doing that is embracing the fact that we are addressing a new market; a new generation. In addition to that, brands need to be open on exploring the various platforms and modes of advertising.

In the advertising world, 2017 can be seen as a transitional year for publishers and platforms. Print media’s shift to digital is nearly complete, and it is predicted that budget allocated to traditional media will see another huge drop this year. Keeping up with the similar trend, television advertising has accelerated its shift to digital, favoring premium video apps like Hulu and mass-reach platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat.

Web publishers that don’t offer a differentiated experience will potentially lose consumer attention – and associated advertisers – to scaled platforms. And finally, radio is still early in its shift and is expected to ultimately transition to digital audio platforms over time. As technology continues to evolve, brands and marketers need to be highly attuned to their customers’ journey; ensuring that it is relevant and efficient.

Engage, connect & understand; the only way forward for advertisers

Consumers are looking for content that would complement and represent moments that are relevant in their lives. By reaching audiences during moments that matter to them, brands can now leverage their content with personalized messages to their user, based on the user’s state of mind.

These moments which matter to consumers should matter to brands too as they present a remarkable opportunity for brands to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Unlike demographics or device IDs which are often used to approximate a target audience, moments reveal profound insights about consumers, giving brands the possibility to truly achieve perceptive advertising.

The unique ability of micro-moments to flex to consumers’ need, makes it an especially powerful marketing tool, as brands reach their audience when they’re most engaged, with personalized content that matches their moment.

Although there is a shift, digital ads are still far from living up to their potential, often interrupting the consumer’s favorite content instead of adding value to the experience. Brands tend to fall into the trap of marketing to machines, and not to the consumer directly. Traditional method of using a cookie to profile a shopper and retargeting them may be seen as effective when compared to blind targeting.

Another point of consideration that many miss out is the viewability (or positioning) of their advertisement; above or below the fold? As a rule of thumb, what appears at the top of the page as compared to what is hidden will influence the consumer’s experience, regardless of the screen size.

Personalization must move beyond “targeting”

P&G’s Marc Pritchard has spoken at length about the problems that marketers have identified about programmatic ad placement. Knowing when and where to serve an ad is as important as who and what to serve.

For example, don’t ask a consumer to click an ad if they are driving in a car, or target a “fitness enthusiast” to fill out a form while in the middle of an intense workout. Understanding consumer context and mood are incredibly important and increasingly possible with everything becoming connected. According to IHS, the number of connected devices will grow to 30.7 billion in 2020.

As people increasingly consume media across devices, the marketing landscape is shifting towards people- based marketing.

“People-based marketing represents an industry shift from targeting devices to connecting with the right people at the right time, with the right message. Rather than targeting ads to devices based on cookies, which is fraught with inadequacies, marketers can now reach people across the many devices they use, thanks to persistent identity.” – Danielle Lee, VP, Global Head of Partner Solutions at Spotify

According to Nielsen, 79% of audio is consumed while people are engaged in activities where visual media can’t reach them, whether it’s hitting the treadmill after work, or even channelling your inner rock star in the shower.

Today the priority is about having access to content, rather than owning content. For example, Spotify users spend at least 148 minutes a day listening to music through the Spotify platform. Music streaming is definitely growing and is more prevalent than TV or movie streaming in almost every moment of the day. Music is 5 times more likely to be streamed than TV or movie content, working out (3.5 times more likely) or focusing (3 times more likely); with 60% of music streamers listening on mobile, compared to 40% of TV and movie streamers.

Understanding people through music and why it matters

Savvy marketers will quickly embrace the consumer shift, and audio advertising will be reimagined through the lens of native experiences as opposed to terrestrial radio adaptations. Through streaming intelligence, we build audience experiences that fuel engagement and trust; one way Spotify is able to do that is by understanding people through music.

Understanding people through music, a Spotify led research has become a key part of our data mission. The theory behind the work: because music listening is so uniquely emotional, universal and, now, addressable thanks to streaming, it can uncover deeper insights than consumption of other kinds of content like movies and TV. Music as we know it, is weaved into our everyday lives. There is a song (or a playlist) to represent each moment of our lives.

These moments can be as simple as having a shower before heading to work or preparing for a night out in town. Music reflects who we are, what we are doing and how we are feeling in any given moment. And thanks to music streaming services, people are listening to music and amplifying these moments more than ever.

What does this mean for brands?

Streaming opens up an entirely new set of addressable moments for marketers. The music streaming ad revenue opportunity is worth $1.5 billion today, and it’s expected to reach at least $7 billion by 2030. Audio’s unique ability to flex to consumers’ needs makes it an especially powerful marketing tool. The mobile moments “at work” and “working out” alone have opened up $220M in ad revenue opportunity. With that in mind, brands should leverage audio to reach out to their audience when they are most engaged, coupled with the right message that matches that moment in time.

It is really is about reaching out to the right people at the right moment. How are you doing that?

Evolving your Influencer Marketing for the AI era

Charles Tidswell1The scale and scope of influencer marketing is growing at pace and holds increasing importance in the marketing mix as a way for brands to reach consumers. In this column, Charles Tidswell from Socialbakers provides his top tips for executing social media and influencer marketing campaigns in Asia, including measuring ROI, finding the right influencers and avoiding fakes, artificial intelligence, macro and micro influencers and the specifics of influencer marketing in the Asia Pacific region.

1. Find the right social media influencers

Finding the right influencer is crucial.

A good starting point is to define the brand’s audience personas. This allows the brand to truly understand their target audience, and thus identify an influencer who has values and audiences that line up with that of the brand’s. It is important to look at how aligned an influencer’s content is with your messaging. This can be determined by understanding key traits such as their likes, dislikes and the content they have previously posted.

Brands should ensure that the influencer they select has good engagement and reach.

Engagement is an indicator of how interactive an influencer’s audience is with the content they are posting. How much, and how often audiences engage with the influencer are indications of how meaningful those relationships are. This includes how many readers like, comment or share the influencer’s content.

While not the most important, ‘reach’ is a valid metric for consideration. However, brands should resist the urge to only look at unique visitors as a measure of reach. Traffic and followers are only meaningful to the extent that the influencer is reaching the brand’s target audience.

With the rise of influencer marketing platforms, finding the right influencer can be easy and efficient, eliminating the need to manually sift through influencer profiles. Brands can easily search for influencers based on their audience size, interests, location, age, and gender. It is also possible to see an easy-to-understand score estimating the performance of the influencers, in order to determine the most effective influencer to work with.

2. Measure the ROI of influencer marketing

There are a multitude of ways brands can measure ROI.

The two most common ways are to measure engagement rates, as well as frequency of mentions and hashtags.

Engagement rate is possibly the most common form of measurement. This metric will differ according to the platforms you are evaluating, so brands must be sure to measure the engagement of each individual post in order to better understand what’s working. To put the effectiveness of influencer posts in-context, brands can also analyse their non-sponsored content along with sponsored posts from previous partnerships to benchmark content performance. Since there is no magic number for what a “good engagement” rate should look like, this analysis can be a way to put the engagement rate into context. Brands can even consider looking into the Cost per Engagement (CPE). CPE breaks down how much you are paying for engagement: likes, comments, clicks etc. To get to this number simply divide your total influencer budget by the number of engagements.

Brands looking to see if their influencer marketing campaigns are sparking conversations can tap on social media listening tools. These tools dive into the conversations taking place across social media to find out if the brand is appearing more frequently. Aside from brand mentions, setting up a unique hashtag is also a great way to measure success. If you are creating a campaign with an influencer you can assign a specific hashtag to that campaign and monitor if it’s gaining any traction.

3. Detect and manage fake influencers

Fake influencers are notorious for buying fake followers, hoping to trick brands into a paid collaboration. To make sure the influencer of your choice isn’t ‘fake’, look at their volume of interactions per 1,000 followers. A fake influencer will have a low share of engaged fans, which is a red flag showing you shouldn’t work with that person.

With Socialbakers Influencer Management, marketers can are able to search by location, age, and interests. Influencer posts’ data can be pulled up for inspiration and likes, sentiment of comments, brands they’ve worked with before, and how they performed in the past for marketers to make an informed decision. By doing so, fake social media influencer profiles can be sieved out more effectively.

4. Make use of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence

AI can help take the guesswork out of Influencer Marketing; from recruitment of influencers based on the brand’s objectives, provide the ability to forecast influencer performance, predict optimal incentives that would encourage influencers to take a certain action etc.

We will continue to see advancements in AI-powered Influencer Marketing that will help brands understand what content is most likely to resonate and influencer the purchase or adoption decisions of the end consumer.

5. Remember the difference between macro and micro influencers

Micro influencers are those who have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. This category of influencers have a tight-knit relationship with their audience and tend to have higher engagement and conversation rates. While micro influencers often cover a wide range of niches, they are often more affordable than macro or celebrity influencers.

Macro influencers, on the other hand, have a significantly higher follower base – this ranges from 100,000 up to 1 million followers. Given their wider reach, macro influencers tend to have a more diverse audience as well as an established position within a given community.

Deciding which category of influencers to work with largely depends on the scale of the campaign and its objectives. Brands looking to create product awareness or to reach a wide audience may choose to use a macro influencer, while brands keen to encourage customer conversion or retention may prefer to work with micro influencers. They can convert customers cheaper and more efficiently than any of the other options, making them a powerful option to boost ROI.

6. Choose the right social media platforms for your market 

Asia has become one of the most important emerging regions for social media marketing. The hunt for social media influencers requires extensive knowledge on metrics that brands find most important, aspects they value in an influencer the most and more.

Regardless of the industry or region, ​brands are increasingly interested in incorporating influencer marketing as an inherent part of their digital strategy. We have seen it for some time in industries like fashion and beauty​, but today influencer marketing is ubiquitous and is one of the fastest growing categories in advertising, projected to be a $5-10 billion market by 2020, according to Mediakix.

Platforms that are the most used for influencer marketing in Asia include Facebook, WeChat and Instagram which have a high volume of monthly active users in the millions. One significant platform to take note of is China’s WeChat, with about 963M monthly active users. The functionality of WhatsApp, Snapchat, Messenger, and Facebook are integrated into this application.

The app also takes it up a notch by allowing Chinese users to order meals, book taxis and doctor’s appointments. WeChat even offers an assistant chatbot called WeSecretary to manage administrative tasks such as paying bills, booking airline tickets and much more. With such a wide array of integrated functions on a single platform, WeChat paves the way – and provides opportunities for influencers to build closer relationships with fans as well as potential fans.

 

 

 

Inside China’s Mobile Payments War

In 2018, China is an almost entirely cashless consumer economy, where popular mobile payment apps such as WeChat Pay and Alipay have enabled consumers to go straight from cash, to smartphone payments, leapfrogging the use of credit cards and cheques.

One of the world’s leading players in mobile or e-payment, China saw $15.4 trillion worth of mobile payments handled by third-party platforms in 2017 – more than 40 times the amount processed in the US.

Chinese consumers can buy a pancake at a roadside breakfast stall, order food online, pay credit card bills, or manage stock accounts, all with just their smartphone. In fact, mobile payments are so prevalent that use of cash fell from 63% of transactions in 2011 to just 33% by 2016.

When Alibaba founder Jack Ma carved out his payments business from the ecommerce giant in 2010, he pulled off a coup with multibillion dollar implications. But it was a move by WeChat a few years later that really set the category alight.

The sending and receiving of red packets containing cash (also called lai see in Cantonese, and hongbao in Mandarin) at Lunar New Year is an important tradition across China. But historically red packets were always tangible items, real cash in a paper envelope. Then, in 2014, WeChat introduced digital red packets. The ability to send festive cash to family and friends using just the WeChat Pay mobile payment platform. It was a revolution, and 4 years later in 2018, the idea of digital red packets had caught on to such an extent, that 80% of Chinese consumers sent a red packet via WeChat. This year only 69% sent a physical red packet.

WeChat’s success with digital red packets introduced and popularised the mobile payments category with Chinese consumers, and built a platform for the adoption of wider mobile payments functionality across money transfer, taxi ordering, online shopping, bill settlement, wealth management, for both WeChat – and it’s competitors.

Wireless Payment Methods

In fact, Alipay, owned by Alibaba, now handles nearly 54% of total mobile payment transactions, with WeChat Pay, owned by Tencent, processing around 39%. Across the category, the number of transactions made through non-banking mobile apps increased from 3.8 billion to more than 97 billion over the period 2013 to 2016, and research firm eMarketer recently estimated that more than 61% of global mobile payment users in 2018 are located in China.

Alipay and WeChat Pay have also made their presence felt abroad. Both companies extended their payments services to hundreds of thousands of merchants in regions like Southeast Asia and Europe, targeting outbound Chinese travellers and encouraging them to settle their overseas shopping bills with the apps. Adoption is still low, but merchants are keen to  facilitate easier transactions for high volume and wealthy Chinese tourists.

Within China however, the game is up. The dominance of mobile payment means not only that companies like Alibaba and Tencent manage consumer financial transactions, but as a by product they also control huge lakes of valuable personal data. Already this data is being used to close the loop on the consumer purchase cycle, and up-sell other financial products such as loans, or retail experiences. Alipay has also built Sesame Credit, a personal credit rating platform and Chinese government social rating system, linked to it’s mobile payments footprint. While English language media tends to describe Sesame Credit as an authoritarian system straight out of Black Mirror, Chinese social media users seem to focus more on the advantages than the burdens.

Ay, there’s the rub! As the West agonises over Cambridge Analytica and GDPR, WeChat and Alipay have already built the future of mobile payments. Convenience trumps all, if you let it.

Below we’ve collected key takeaway resources covering WeChat, Alipay and the mobile payments ecosystem in China.

Mobile Payment Usage in China 2017

Tencent: The Growth of the Digital Payment Ecosystem in China

Social Networks & Digital Payment in China

Alipay and WeChat Pay: Reaching Rural Users in China

Digital transformation in China – Take aways from the Alibaba Global Dreamer Program