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Technology Featured APAC

E-commerce enabler Awake Asia merges with ADA for market expansion

Singapore – Awake Asia, a regional e-commerce enabler, has announced that it will be now merging with data and AI company ADA, which will help both of the companies empower their services across 10 markets in Asia Pacific, particularly in the e-commerce sector.

Awake Asia’s integration under the ADA brand is effective 1 June this year, where they will serve the markets of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, South Korea, and Vietnam.

The merger entails the combination of Awake Asia’s deep e-commerce expertise with ADA’s media, creative, and analytics solutions to drive online sales for brands. This is best applied through digital marketing deeply linked to e-commerce revenue generation; consumer data and analytics leveraged to uplift e-commerce sales; and reaching vast audiences in super-apps and marketplaces.

For Srinivas Gattamneni, chief executive officer of ADA, the merger brings together an integrated approach for brands to reach and convert digital consumers, which is best supported by the fact that more brands are forced to adapt to capture the ‘great migration’ of consumers from offline to online, and business owners still in the dark on how to navigate the challenges to maximize return on investment.

“At ADA, our belief is that e-commerce should not be a siloed execution but needs to be deeply integrated into the brand’s analytics, media, creative, and marketing technology investments – only then can we achieve superior performance,” he said.

Leading the new division is Simon Paterson who joins ADA as chief of e-commerce enablement and the former CEO of Awake Asia. 

Commenting on his new appointment, he said “Over the past 5 years, Awake Asia has built a formidable e-commerce enablement business in Southeast Asia. We are excited to embark on this new phase of growth with integrated analytics, media, and creative to boost e-commerce operations for all brands in the region.”

The merger opens a new market for ADA in Vietnam with over 150 e-commerce specialists currently serving more than 120 brands, driving e-commerce growth for clients such as P&G, Unilever, BMW, and Wyeth; and e-commerce partners including Shopee, Tokopedia, and Lazada among others.

ADA has recently been expanding its data and AI-oriented services across Asia Pacific, such as launching its martech service, an end-to-end e-commerce service, and its partnership with Insider for data-led enterprise marketing endeavors, as well its recent US$60m funding from Softbank.

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SME Featured South Asia

Sequoia India-backed Pencil launches video ad system for SMEs

New Delhi, India – Creative AI company Pencil, which has been supported by venture capital Sequoia India’s rapid scale-up funding Surge, has recently launched its latest video ad system catered to serve small businesses, as well as startups looking to gain access to the same ‘Machine Generated Creative’ (MGC) platform as larger brands, for the first time, to level the playing field. 

Pencil’s new service allows small businesses struggling to compete in an increasingly online world dominated by larger brands’ slick video ads and optimized ad spend. Pencil learns from historic ad performance to generate new video ads that help brands systematically improve Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS). This is done through Pencil’s ‘Generate’ feature, which utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to generate new video ad ideas.

Pencil is one of the first companies to launch a commercial tool using OpenAI’s GPT-3 to generate playful, effective ad copy that, combined with Pencil’s language model, enables MGC to generate entirely new narratives around a brand or product.

For context, the GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) is an autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. This then allows the AI model to create texts that are indistinguishable from those of human writing and thought.

Will Hanschell, co-founder and CEO at Pencil explains that the launch of the AI ad system corresponds to the dilemma of cash-strapped businesses with limited creative resources and ad budgets, who face long odds competing for consumer mindshare against larger, more established brands.

“Pencil evens the odds with Machine Generated Creative that enables marketers to take existing copy, imagery, and video assets and automatically generate batches of video ads that learn to perform week-on-week,” Hanschell stated.

Based on its proven performance, the company was recently accepted into Facebook Marketing Partners, a program that connects businesses to an ecosystem of specialists.

Alongside the launch, there are three tiers that advertisers can subscribe to based on their ad needs namely ‘Generate’ which creates copy and video ad ideas for startups and small businesses to test 10 ads a month for a single brand, the ‘Generate+ Learn’ plan which includes a patented machine learning loop that predicts outcomes and optimizes performance, and the ‘Enterprise’ plan which provides custom pricing, integrations, and features for large agencies and creative teams. Rate per ad ranges from US$25 to US$50 per ad. 

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Technology Featured APAC

Midea ropes in MediaMonks to launch lineup of future-oriented CX

Shanghai, China Midea, the global appliance manufacturer headquartered in China, has announced its upcoming state-of-the-art virtual factory – the Midea Thailand Smart Factory – and it has partnered with creative technology company MediaMonks to create an innovative immersive experience for Midea’s customers.

MediaMonks was named partner during this year’s Midea RAC (Residential Air Conditioning) Online Canton Fair, with the aim to deliver richer, and more interactive experiences to consumers, and to give greater clarity and understanding on its brand, vision, and products. The smart factory is only one of the two main projects that the two are working on, with the other being the Midea Vision or what is also called the M-Vision project, a digital interactive platform. Both aim to demonstrate Midea’s strong vision for the future. 

Midea
The Midea Thailand Smart Factory

On the smart factory in Thailand, MediaMonks utilized a WebGL experience to provide customers with all aspects of its construction. To give them a comprehensive view of the innovative construction process, MediaMonks came up with the idea to create a virtual tour to this ‘future factory’. Customers are able to freely explore the facets of the factory online and get a deep understanding of its key features and highlights.

According to Technical Director for MediaMonks Shanghai Ron Lee, the virtual factory environment was achieved with the combination of aerial and ground photography footage built upon a 3D modelling technique called photogrammetry. 

“On the fly through experience, we enabled our digital visitors to navigate across a 3D modeled factory represented in the clean, modern aesthetic of minimalism,” Lee said. 

Lee further explains that visitors can now explore interactive hotspots. Alongside the archived time lapse videos, customers can choose to watch a live camera feed for a real-time look at the factory’s construction, and finally, a dedicated news tab keeps customers up to date with relevant information.

Ramzi Chaabane, also a head of strategy for the Shanghai team, said, “The factory of the future is characterized by the integration of digital technologies into manufacturing processes. The ‘smart factory’ – or Factory 4.0 – aims to achieve further competitiveness and will rely on the convergence between the industrial and digital worlds.”

“This is hinged on existing tools and creativity – sensors, automation, big data, IOT, cloud computing – being propelled, and the arrival of new activities in energy, green products, robotics, molecular biology, genetics adding value and innovation to marketing. This thinking will empower Midea and its partners and help future-proof and create lasting business impact,” Chaabane adds.

The Midea Vision

Meanwhile, the Midea Vision, which is under the air conditioning line of Midea, is a digital interactive platform, which will be the integrated home to all the latest RAC and Light Commercial Air-Conditioner (LCAC) products, as well as core technologies, branding, manufacturing and company information. It will also be including the RAC Canton Fair virtual center, enabling Midea RAC to connect all global business customers closely by utilizing a cutting-edge AR product launch event, interactive live streaming and immersive product experiences. 

“Midea is a category leader when it comes to R&D, manufacturing, and shipping to name a few. The ambition is to build a solution to solve ongoing business challenges and pave the path for the future. The core of what we try to deliver is to allow users to have more discovery moments and information touchpoints to create a seamless experience,” said January Zhang, head of marketing department at Midea RAC OSC.

As part of the efforts with Midea Vision, MediaMonks will also be building Mia – Midea’s holistic AI solution – which will help solve a host of business challenges. In the near future, Mia is targeted to be a tech that helps achieve a variety of things not seen before, such as knowing customer insights and applying them on behalf of every user to improve R&D, and engaging directly with customers and managing manufacturing, shipments, logistics and production lines to improve the sales experience.

Midea Vision is already live and Mia 1.0 has already been launched this month. Meanwhile, the Thailand Smart Factory is slated to open in October 2021.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Credit bureau CIBI partners with ADVANCE.AI to give AI-driven biz intel to PH firms

Manila, Philippines – CIBI, a local credit bureau agency, has announced a partnership with AI and data company ADVANCE.AI to use innovative AI and computer vision technology to expand business intelligence support and services for local businesses in the Philippines.

CIBI, which was first established in 1982, provides data, credit reporting, and information management services and analytics for consumers and business entities. Meanwhile, ADVANCE.AI aims to solve digital transformation, fraud prevention, and process automation for enterprise clients.

Marlo R. Cruz, president and CEO of CIBI said, “As a forward-looking and digital-first organization, CIBI always looks to be one step ahead. This partnership with ADVANCE.AI facilitates our mission to give Filipino businesses easier access to a range of business intelligence services, including credit and data reporting through a more efficient internal system. This marks the beginning of more opportunities for CIBI, as our partners enrich our capabilities and innovations.”

ADVANCE.AI’s holistic suite of products covers three key areas: digital identity verification and eKYC customer onboarding, risk management and digital lending solutions. It is now expanding into markets such as Mexico, UK, Europe, and the US.

Meanwhile, Dong Shou, CEO of ADVANCE.AI, commented: “Our market-leading AI and computer vision technology will allow CIBI to expand its range of critical business data and intelligence reporting solutions, with the ultimate aim of better supporting underbanked and underserved businesses in the Philippines.” 

He added, “This is more important than ever in the current COVID landscape, as we help accelerate the digitalization of the economy, and in doing so, help millions of Filipinos and businesses gain access to new financial products and services.”

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Technology Featured ANZ

AU-based conversational agency Versa launches global-first navigation-less website

Australia – Global digital and conversational agency Versa in Australia has launched a navigation-less and bot-activated website – https://versa.agency, which utilizes AI-powered conversational bot technology, allowing visitors to ask for what they want using voice or text, without having to search for it.

Versa.agency is the first website to dynamically present relevant content based on an ongoing conversation with the website visitors. It delivers a human-centered experience through a digital concierge, which puts the power of search into the users’ hands and immediately creates a two-way conversation by asking visitors to type in their questions as soon as they arrive via chat or voice-enabled platform. 

According to the agency, the benefits of a navigation-less website include eliminating drop-down menus and tabs, and endless scrolling, making it easier for users to find what they want quickly by directing them to the information they are looking for. Brands can also deliver hyper-personalized experiences, content, and information, as well as deals without the need for users to login. 

Kath Blackham, the CEO of Versa, shared that AI-powered conversational tech addresses the challenge of impatient website users who have become conditioned to expect instant access to information.

“People now expect a seamless experience from websites, apps, and products. Navigation-less websites give brands the ability to create two-way conversations with customers and allow brands to collect and mine better data to address their customers’ needs more accurately. Voice navigation also has the potential to reach more people through the greater accessibility by being able to simply ask for what you want in your own words, regardless of language, literacy or ability,” said Blackham.

The website experience developed by Versa enables targeted and accurate recommendations through AI’s ability to interpret, understand, and provide relative content instantly, to further increase accuracy as the user clarifies their needs throughout the duration of the conversation.

The rich data and insights are continuously gathered and refined, allowing analysts to better understand what users are searching for rather than aggregating irrelevant data. The SEO is also enhanced by replacing rigid drop-down menus and tab structures with the ability to deploy new content and unlimited pages quickly, all with unique SEO strategies.

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Technology Featured APAC

ADA, Insider to drive data-led growth marketing initiatives for enterprises

Singapore – Data and artificial intelligence (AI) company ADA and growth management platform Insider have announced a new partnership to aid enterprises in achieving a greater return on multichannel personalization and marketing campaigns through AI and data analytics.

The partnership entails unifying ADA’s newly formed MarTech-as-a-Service offering and Insider’s AI-powered Growth Management Platform (GMP) which will empower enterprises to scale up and predict customer behavior in real time. Marketers can also seamlessly personalize and streamline campaigns to acquire, activate, and retain customers.

“We’re really excited to be working with Insider. We believe this partnership will help our clients realise more value by allowing us to offer an end-to-end solution that covers the full marketing and sales funnel. We have big goals to continue to expand our business in Asia; so, ADA and Insider’s strong MarTech proposition will help us achieve our ambitious targets,” said Chris Wiseman, head of marketing technology at ADA.

For Patrick Steinbrenner, managing director for APAC at Insider, he believes that with the right recommendation algorithms powered by AI, enterprises can deliver precise individualized cross-channel recommendations and uncover full revenue potential. 

“ADA’s digital and data maturity models’ expertise combined with Insider’s platform capabilities will take marketing to the next level. We’ve enjoyed collaborating with the team at ADA to bring more value to our end customers,” Steinbrenner stated.

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Technology Featured APAC

ADA launches new end-to-end e-commerce solution in APAC

Singapore – Data and AI company ADA has announced a new business line in APAC that combines data-driven marketing strategies with end-to-end e-commerce solutions. 

The service is aimed at clients seeking comprehensive solutions to drive traffic, manage customer experience, optimize conversions throughout the funnel, and create engaging content on digital marketplaces as well as owned e-commerce sites.

“E-commerce is a strategic priority for ADA and our clients as businesses emerge from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re excited to be expanding our footprint by bringing our unique heritage in data-driven marketing to empower the next generation of e-commerce champions,” said Srinivas Gattamneni, chief executive officer at ADA.

Anurag Gupta, chief operating officer and chief of agency at ADA explained that through XACT, ADA’s proprietary data management platform, and with the help also from first-party customer data, a global luxury skincare brand has adapted itself from an offline selling platform to e-commerce.

“The resulting campaigns far exceeded targets, with 490% growth achieved in e-commerce monthly sales versus pre-pandemic, 275% growth versus promotional months and 24.5% return on ad spend,” Gupta added.

ADA had noted a report from Google, Temasek and Bain & Co. showing that the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia continues to surge as COVID-19 accelerated online purchases, with gross merchandise value expected to jump to US$172B by 2025.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Huawei’s newly-launched DIGIX Lab to empower app developers

Singapore – DIGIX Lab, operated under the services of the Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), has officially been opened in Singapore to help app developers drive idea exchange, business growth and collaboration.

The innovation hub works in the way that it offers a space for developers to connect and experience the full range of HMS developer resources, ranging from augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), HMS Core kits and other open technological capabilities. The DIGIX Lab services can also be accessed online, allowing developers across the region to make use of the resources virtually.

DIGIX Labs also operates under a so-called ‘1+8+N’ Seamless AI Life strategy, which is defined when the smartphone serves as One (1) centre, and Huawei’s ecosystem partners connect across Eight (8) supporting Huawei devices to create a fully connected IoT environment consisting of Endless (N) services.

Huawei-Mobile-Services-DIGIX-Lab-Tech-Developer-Inside
HUAWEI DIGIX Lab @ Singapore’s “Experience Zone” showcases Huawei all-scenario products. Developers, partners, and tech enthusiasts can look forward to a series of Residency Programmes like developer workshops, knowledge sharing sessions, and onsite consultation with tech experts hosted by Huawei online and offline. (Photo Courtesy of Huawei)

For Shane Shan, director for Asia Pacific at Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, the strategy system aims to empower tech developers and partners in the Asia Pacific in the mid of 5G rollout.

“The new DIGIX Lab serves as an all-encompassing innovation hub to give developers the boost they need to succeed. Huawei will continue to strengthen our collaboration with partners and institutions in the community and cultivate a resilient, evolving pool of tech talents in the Asia Pacific region,” Shan said.

The DIGIX Lab is divided into three main zones where partners and developers can communicate within the community:

  • Experience zone: An area for visitors to experience Huawei’s “1+8+N” all-scenario ecosystem. This area displays the latest smartphone models, and eight different types of Huawei devices including tablets, PCs, smart wearables and VR smart glasses. In addition, third party IoT home products supported by HUAWEI HiLink are also exhibited here.
  • Engage zone: A multipurpose zone with a collaborative area and training rooms to support community building. Developer programmes such as training, workshops, industry and networking events will be held in this area. Meanwhile, tech enthusiasts or individual developers can also book the space to host community events related to mobile app development.
  • Enable zone: This zone consists of three meeting rooms where developers who are facing challenges while developing an app can meet with Huawei engineers or business teams to get hands-on support. Four debug terminals are also available at the lab to support developers with the resource requirement.

HMS has also recently launched the HUAWEI Developers app, an official open platform for Huawei developers to manage their apps backend system, access the latest developer activities and receive event notifications on the go.

Three community programs are also slated to launch this year, namely the HUAWEI Student Developers (HSD), the HUAWEI Developer Groups (HDG) and the HUAWEI Developer Experts (HDE) to help developers of all levels grow with the HMS ecosystem. Developers in APAC will also be able to sign up for training courses to learn how to deploy HMS development tools into their apps and receive the ‘Huawei Developer Certification’ upon course completion.

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Technology Featured ANZ

GroupM’s influencer marketing network INCA now afoot in New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand – The New Zealand arm of media investment company GroupM has announced that it is now launching INCA, GroupM’s influencer marketing platform, in the country as part of INCA’s ongoing expansion in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

INCA works as a brand-safe influencer marketing network that gives advertisers access to a data-driven brand engagement tool that connects them with trustworthy and relevant influencers at scale.

Through the expansion, New Zealand advertisers can now leverage INCA’s artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled technology to partner with a vast network of relevant and authentic creators to plan, execute, and measure content-driven campaigns that bring their brand stories to life and deliver results. 

Furthermore, the launch solidifies the company’s efforts to uphold brand safety in the industry as more brands are allocating budgets to influencer marketing to drive brand engagement across social platforms. 

“New Zealand is such an exceptional market for creators. We feel very privileged to be able to connect our brands with the best creators through this new platform. Our people, technology, and partnerships put us in a unique position to sit across the intersection of creativity, media, data, and commerce and we’re excited to bring this value to our brands and strengthen the influencer eco-system in New Zealand,” said Nick Henderson, head of product and solutions at GroupM New Zealand.

INCA also deploys other features in the platform, including INCAtech, which provides unique creator and audience insights, workflow tools, content amplification, and detailed campaign reporting dashboards; and Genuity Score, which enables brands to check the proportion of real versus fake audience on a creators profile, which drives authenticity and effectiveness.

“Advertisers are faced with the challenge of connecting more deeply with consumers in social media platforms. INCA allows us to access thousands of authentic and relevant content creators in a highly cost effective way. This technology has simply changed the game in terms of how we can now plan, implement and measure our influencer content campaigns for clients,” said Chris Riley, chief executive officer at GroupM New Zealand.

INCA in New Zealand will be available to clients from all GroupM agencies which include media agency Mindshare, marketing and advertising company MediaCom, media company Wavemaker, and others.

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Platforms SME Featured ANZ

Aussie-based fintech Thrive aims to raise A$3M for SME waitlist

Melbourne, Australia – Thrive, an AI-powered fintech aimed at small and medium enterprises (SMEs), has announced the initial stages of its crowdfunding, targeting A$3M, on the equity crowdfunding platform Birchal.

The crowdfunding comes after the platform’s interest in launching the Thrive app for its SME waitlist, which has numbered over 7,500 businesses.

According to Thrive’s data, financial admin has been the most disliked activity in running a business and that business owners waste over 42 days a year in managing their financial affairs. This is something that the platform aims to solve by automating banking, accounting tasks, and lending for SMEs. 

Furthermore, Thrive combines a smart business account with value-added services like receipt scanning, invoicing, tax forecasting, payroll, and more. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), these tools are designed to run on autopilot, winning back time for busy business owners and making it easy for them to stay in control of their financial destiny.

“We have been running a number of focus groups with small business owners as we put the finishing touches on our product. After we kept getting asked about investment, we decided that we couldn’t think of anything better than to allow our potential customers to become investors in the business as well,” said Michael Nuciforo, co-founder & CEO of Thrive.

Meanwhile, Thrive Co-founder and COO Ben Winford added, “We were really impressed with the Birchal team and platform. We can’t wait to launch our campaign and to get our members behind us. Crowdfunding presents an exciting opportunity to build our brand, grow our member base and build further advocacy for our business.”