SME Featured Southeast Asia

Google teams up with Enterprise Singapore, SGTech to offer 15,000 scholarships to 300 SMEs

Singapore – Tech giant Google has teamed up with the statutory board Enterprise Singapore and tech trade association SGTech to offer 15,000 Google Career Certificate (GCC) scholarships to 300 local small and medium enterprises in the country.

The GCC scholarships will provide SMEs with free access to flexible online training programmes to upskill in areas such as digital marketing, e-commerce, data analytics, IT support, and more. No prior experience is needed, and learners will earn an industry-recognised credential in three to six months of part-time studies.

Said scholarships were given out at the first Grow with Google for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) event, which was graced by Alvin Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Google will also expand its GCC and scholarship offerings to include advanced Certificates in these areas. Designed and taught by Google experts, the Certificates provide participants with hands-on experience with tools such as BigQuery, Python, and Tableau.

Ben King, country managing director at Google Singapore, said, “To fully unlock the potential of Singapore’s economy, we must ensure that SMEs and their employees have a chance to pick up new skills and knowledge to stay relevant in a fast-changing landscape. A recent Google study found that workplace training and online learning are major sources of skills attainment among Singapore employees, and 6 in 10 rely on government awareness programmes as their primary source of information.” 

He added, “Strategic public-private initiatives can help cultivate greater awareness and provide more learning opportunities for SMEs to pursue their growth ambitions locally, regionally and globally.”

Google has helped over 9,400 local SMEs since 2020 advance their business with digital tools and training, including through the Digital Practitioner Programme (DPP), developed in partnership with EnterpriseSG. This helps SMEs and heartland enterprises deepen their in-house capabilities in digital marketing and basic data analytics, through a two-month training programme and a three-to-six-month practicum with dedicated Google Specialists.

Marketing Featured ANZ

Ex-Google Tara McKenty joins BMF as chief innovation officer and co-ECD

Australia – Google’s APAC Creative Head Tara McKenty has joined BMF in the newly created dual role of chief innovation officer and executive creative director, as the agency bolsters its creative department with a series of senior promotions. This includes David Fraser being promoted to co-ECD.

McKenty has spent the past 16 years working in the creative industry across the APAC region, most recently as the Creative Head at Google for nine years. At Google, McKenty was responsible for driving brand love and trust for the Google brand through creativity and working directly with global brands to use Google’s products and platforms in innovative ways.

In addition to her successful tenure at Google, McKenty has created globally renowned work which has been awarded at every major award show across the globe, including OPSM’s ‘Penny the Pirate’, a book and app that tests the eyesight of children; Spark’s ‘Kupu’, an app that translates any image into Te Reo Māori; and Google’s Project Skate, a machine learning tool that can measure the speed, height, and rotation of a skateboarder, and identify tricks in real-time. 

In addition, McKenty has taken home more than 200 awards including a highly sought-after gold Lion for Innovation, WARC’s Most Effective Campaign in the World, D&AD pencils, One Show Awards, Effie Awards, CLIO’s, New York Festival Awards, and many, many more.

As well as winning awards, McKenty has also sat on Innovation Juries at every key award show including Cannes, D&AD, Spikes, AWARD, and more.

In addition to her impressive resume, McKenty is a powerful advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and a founder of Rare with Google, an initiative that provides equitable opportunities for underrepresented creatives to thrive at every stage of their career.

Speaking of her appointment, McKenty said, “BMF has an incredibly strong creative reputation, over the past 26-years it has been lauded for its consistent creative output, effective brand building, and high-profile behaviour change campaigns for some of Australia’s most loved brands. But it’s not just the agency’s strong creative reputation that excites me, it’s also the culture. Not only can they make world-famous campaigns for brands big and small, but they do it with humility and kindness.” 

“I have valued my time and learnt a lot working in tech, but I have missed agency life and the people our industry attracts. I am excited to be returning, it feels like a homecoming of sorts, and I can’t wait to start this next chapter of my career with my new BMF family!”

McKenty is set to join the creative agency in July.

In conjunction with McKenty’s appointment as chief innovation officer and executive creative director, BMF has made a series of internal creative promotions including the promotion of David Fraser to the role of joint-executive creative director.

Fraser joined BMF in 2014 and has been leading the globally awarded ALDI Australia and highly acclaimed Tourism Tasmania accounts for the past nine and four years respectively. In his new role, Fraser will work closely with McKenty and BMF’s Chief Creative Officer Alex Derwin to lead both BMF’s creative department and creative output. 

Alongside his creative partner Dantie Van Der Merwe, Fraser has helped ALDI win over 200 awards for both creativity and effectiveness, with the pair being pivotal to the continued success of ALDI Australia’s renowned ‘Good Different’ platform and helping ALDI to achieve the title of Australia’s Most Trusted Brand in 2018. 

In addition to his work on ALDI Australia, Fraser has launched some of Tourism Tasmania’s most famous campaigns, including the Come Down for Air brand platform and most recently, The Off Season campaign.

“BMF has always felt like home. It’s a caring family full of smart, talented, and ambitious people. And I’ve loved growing into a weird uncle here. To be asked to help build on the BMF legacy and take it to new places with Tara is a fantastic opportunity,” said Fraser.

Whilst leading Tourism Tasmania’s creative output, Fraser has worked closely with Associate Creative Directors Rees Steel and Casey Schweikert, who have also been promoted to Creative Directors. 

Alex Derwin, chief creative officer of BMF, added, “Tara has made an enviable amount of incredible work both in her time at Google, and at her previous agencies. The skillsets she brings, her knowledge of tech and culture, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her boundless creative energy makes her the perfect person to take BMFs output to the next level.” 

“Dave has been leading our two most creatively awarded accounts, he knows the agency inside out, and leads with compassion and intelligence. With Casey and Rees also taking a big, well-deserved step up, we’re well set up for the future.”

Stephen McArdle, CEO at BMF, also said: “Tara is a truly rare talent. As one of the first brilliant creative minds to be lured into the world of big tech, she’s got enviable experience in both creatively led innovation and tech enabled CX. When you couple everything Tara’s learned at Google over the past 10-years with a creative agency that has momentum, belief, and ambition, great things are bound to happen.” 

“We’re also incredibly fortunate to have more than our fair share of world-class talent already in the BMF building. With Tara’s arrival, we’ve taken the opportunity to recognise and elevate some of that outstanding talent and set ourselves up for our next phase of creative exploration and growth.”

Technology Featured Global

Adobe integrates Firefly to experimental conversational AI service Google Bard

Singapore – Adobe has today announced Adobe Firefly’s new integration with Bard, Google’s experimental conversational AI service, along with the expansion of the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI), to continue the creative journey further in Adobe Express. 

In the coming months, Firefly will become the premier generative AI partner for Bard, powering and highlighting text-to-image capabilities. With the new Bard by Google integration, users at all skill levels will be able to describe their vision to Bard in their own words to create Firefly-generated images directly in Bard and then modify and use them to create designs via Express.

Adobe and Google are approaching this partnership through a creator-focused lens, with Adobe using CAI’s open-source Content Credentials technology to bring transparency to images generated through this integration. This partnership will deliver creator-focused generative AI to millions more people.

“The incredible response to our Adobe Firefly beta demonstrates the power and potential of generative AI to inspire more people to create and the strong demand for a creator-centric, commercially viable approach,” said Ely Greenfield, CTO, digital media at Adobe.

Greenfield added, “We’re empowering millions more people to use Firefly for creative inspiration and design and share standout content with Adobe Express through this integration with Bard by Google.”

Sissie Hsiao, vice president and GM of Assistant and Bard at Google, also remarked, “Generative AI has captured the world’s attention and changed how we think about collaboration and productivity. We’re thrilled to partner with Adobe Firefly, giving our users the power to bring their creative ideas to life, quickly and easily – directly in Bard.”

Firefly is the most differentiated generative AI service that generates commercially viable, professional quality content and is designed to be embedded directly into creators’ workflows both in Adobe’s own applications and now in Bard by Google. Enterprise businesses will be able to train Firefly with their own creative collateral in order to generate content in the company’s brand language. 

Moreover, the integration of Firefly across Adobe Experience Cloud applications will allow marketing organizations to use Firefly to accelerate their content supply chain production.

“At this critical moment in history, as generative AI becomes more powerful and prevalent than ever, people need a way to tell what’s behind the content they’re consuming. Content Credentials will enable creators to tell their stories authentically, while providing easy-to-use tools to verify how a piece of content was created and modified,” said Dana Rao, general counsel and chief trust officer at Adobe.

Recently, Adobe has also inked a partnership with marketing communications company Omnicom Group Inc. to reinvent the creation and delivery of creative content.

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Google Cloud names Patrick Wee as country manager for Malaysia

Malaysia – Google’s cloud computing services, Google Cloud, has announced the appointment of Patrick Wee as its country manager for Malaysia. The role will see him spearheading the local go-to-market operations for Google Cloud and Google Workspace. Now being at the helm of the business, Wee will be collaborating with teams across Google to help companies digitally transform their business with enterprise-grade solutions and cutting-edge technology.

Wee reports to Megawaty Khie, regional director of Google Cloud for Indonesia and Malaysia, who oversees Google Cloud’s enterprise, public sector, and corporate and mid-market business segments in both countries.

An industry veteran, Wee’s addition to the team follows recent leadership roles at Zoom and AWS, bringing extensive experience advising and working with C-level decision-makers across financial services, retail, consumer packaged goods, telecommunications, healthcare, high-tech, energy, and the public sector.

Khie said that Wee is joining them at such an exciting phase of growth in Malaysia, where they have been increasingly collaborating with organizations of all sizes—from large enterprises like Axiata Group and Media Prima to digital natives like Bungkusit. 

“We are so excited that a leader with such rich vision, experience, and industry network will be part of our growth journey in this important country,” added Khie.

Meanwhile, Wee himself commented, “I’m excited to be joining Google Cloud, which has been playing an important role in advancing Malaysian organizations’ digital transformation initiatives with the highest levels of security, scalability, and environmental sustainability offered by our open data cloud infrastructure and services,” 

He added, “I look forward to building on our success with local public sector agencies, enterprises, and startups, as we continue working together to foster a dynamic, highly skilled, and inclusive digital society, and accelerate the delivery of made-in-Malaysia products and digital applications to serve domestic and international markets.”

Just recently, Google Cloud has introduced new AI innovations for retail players and, alongside, announced its integration with Accenture. The new AI developments are said to aid retailers in their in-store shelf-checking processes and enhance their e-commerce sites. 

Meanwhile, the integration with Accenture is specifically with its ai.RETAIL platform as part of Google Cloud’s expanded strategic partnership.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Singaporean consumers’ search habits show they are seeking ‘value’ and joy, says Google

Singapore – Google’s year-end rankings in Search for Singapore in 2022 have revealed that Singaporean consumers are seeking to be in control of their identities, lifestyles, and what they value. 

The report has identified three key consumer trends based on search behaviours by Singaporeans that marketers can leverage to optimise their marketing strategies. These are ‘soul searching’, ‘value hunting’, and ‘finding joy’.

According to the report, Singaporeans sought more information on the well-loved travel destination Japan, as search interest in ‘Japan culture’ rose by 20%. The report also showed that the search interest in ‘gender inequality’ grew by 50%, signifying Singaporeans’ support of diverse identities.

In terms of value hunting, the search interest for ‘inflation’ grew by 160% as Singaporeans increasingly reassess what they consider to be of value and give attention to economic trends. Keywords like ‘recommendations’ and ‘top rated’ were also amongst the top searches, as consumers consider trust in brands even more.

Moreover, the report found that Singaporeans are looking for more ways to treat themselves and endeavour in post-pandemic revenge travel, with keyword ‘flight tickets’ gaining a 430% increase in search interest. 

It was also unveiled that Singaporeans are looking more into convenience, with the virtual clinic ‘doctor anywhere’ gaining a 260% search interest.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

MullenLowe TREYNA nabs new business wins, including telco DITO Telecommunity

Manila, Philippines – Integrated marketing agency MullenLowe TREYNA has announced adding new business accounts, which comes from its extensive product lineup: integrated creative solutions, strategic narrative, user research and experience, PR, and activation.

Qairos, the company under MullenLowe TREYNA’s operations –made through a joint venture with Quiddity Usability Labs –nabbed the user research, experience design, and development duties on telco DITO Telecommunity; Philip Morris’s local subsidiary PMFTC; Nextbank, a cloud-based banking SaaS provider; and RS2, a global payment platform for credit card clients and merchants.

Denise Haak, CEO of Qairos, said, “Winning our clients’ trust in a competitive environment is crucial. I’m glad even global clients like RS2 can see the value and expertise we bring to the table.”

Meanwhile, parent agency MullenLowe TREYNA won the creative relaunch duties on local financial services M. Lhuillier, and projects with brandy brand Emperador Light and e-sports company Mineski Global. After the success of COMELEC’s ‘Magparehistro Ka’ campaign, Google has also awarded business to the agency without a pitch.

Mike Trillana, chairman and CEO of MullenLowe TREYNA Group, commented, “Getting new clients on board isn’t only about the ideas, it’s about the people you get to work with. We committed to a hybrid setup early in 2022, but we also took steps to ensure that we could sustain the elements of a winning agency culture. This is proof that looking after your people brings in the business, and makes business better for our clients.”

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Nielsen includes YouTube measurement in ad rating solution across three SEA markets

Singapore – Market measurement firm Nielsen has announced the incorporation of YouTube measurement in its Total Ad Ratings (TAR) solution across the Southeast Asian markets of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. This provides deduplicated cross-platform metrics for campaigns that are served both on TV and digital.

Nielsen is providing cross-platform metrics on which media buyers and sellers can transact. This announcement will now allow advertisers to measure YouTube inventory in their cross-media campaigns in a total of seven markets globally — Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Mexico, Italy, U.S. and France. 

TAR responds to the needs of advertisers wanting a more holistic view of their audiences, including YouTube, so they can understand the scale of the audience they’re able to reach through campaigns that are served both on TV and digital.

Arnaud Frade, head of commercial growth at Nielsen APAC, said, “In a fragmenting media landscape advertisers need independent cross-media metrics to optimise ad spends and enhance ROI while reaching the right audiences. This is an important milestone and investment toward our global Nielsen ONE strategy, underpinning a strong digital measurement capability which helps with the vision of a true cross-platform that measures across all screens.”

Meanwhile, Gaurav Kapur, managing director at Google, commented, “We are pleased that YouTube measurement within Nielsen’s Total Ads Rating solution is expanding to Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand. We firmly believe independent measurement helps the industry better navigate an increasingly fragmented media landscape. With better tools from measurement partners like Nielsen, advertisers can be more strategic about their investments.” 

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Google offers 39,000 scholarships to aid Filipinos with in-demand, job-ready skills

Manila, Philippines – Tech giant Google has announced that it will provide 39,000 Google Career Certificate scholarships to equip Filipino students and job seekers from underserved communities with job-ready skills. This aims to help them land career opportunities in high-demand industries such as IT.

The Google Career Certificates provide a suite of flexible online training programs available on These certificates, built and taught by Google, are designed to provide learners from all backgrounds with digital skills within an estimated time of three to six months. The four certificate options that Google provides are IT Support, UX Design, Data Analytics, and Project Management, which are available for everyone aged 18 and above and require no previous degree or experience. 

“Google is committed to supporting the Philippines’ economic growth through the opportunities created by the country’s growing digital economy. With the unemployment rate at 5.2% and rapidly growing job postings in tech, Google hopes to address the digital skills gap and improve the lives of thousands of Filipinos for themselves and their families by providing free Google Career Certificates,” said Bernadette Nacario, country director of Google Philippines.

Moreover, Google will be working closely with local partners such as the Globe Group and government stakeholders, including the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Information and Communications Technology, to distribute the scholarships. These distribution partners will nominate qualified recipients and track the progress of the scholars.

Yoly Crisanto, Globe’s group chief sustainability and corporate communications officer, noted, “Empowering today’s workforce with digital and job-ready skills is important to lead the country towards economic development. The Globe Group is honoured to play a vital role in the Google Career Certificates program in the Philippines that will help 39,000 young Filipinos with advanced IT courses.”

Meanwhile, Alfredo Pascual, secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, said, “As we continue to move towards inclusive growth and employment generation, programs like the Google Career Certificate scholarships are invaluable to our mission of creating globally competitive industries. We laud Google for launching this initiative that will bridge 39,000 students and jobseekers to in-demand career opportunities in tech and IT.” 

Atty. Ivan John Enrile Uy, secretary at the Department of Information and Communications Technology, commented, “We thank Google for launching this high-impact program in the country that will not just create career pathways for thousands of Filipinos but will help the Department champion the economic benefits of a digital Philippines.”

Platforms Featured South Asia

Google faces pressure to stop illegal digital lending applications in India

India – Tech giant Google is in hot water recently, as it is being asked by Indian authorities and the central bank to put stringent measures in place against illegal digital lending applications uploaded on Google’s Play Store, according to an exclusive report from Reuters.

According to the report, Google and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been meeting in the past few months to urge tougher checks and balances that can help in weeding out such apps.

Multiple local regulators have long pushed Indian lenders to have stricter checking on new lending app players. Some of the ‘red flags’ for illegal lender apps include charging excessive interest rates and fees or in recovery practices which are not authorised by the central bank or violate money laundering and other government guidelines.

A Google spokesperson said, “We have removed over 2,000 personal loan apps targeting India from the Play Store for violation of the Play policy requirements. We will continue to engage with law enforcement agencies and industry bodies to help address this issue.”

While India’s central bank requires that any lending apps listed on app stores be backed by regulated entities, it is up to Google to enforce this and monitor compliance. The tech giant has also been asked to look at curtailing the rise of such apps via other distribution channels such as websites and other means of downloads.

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Google announces multiple initiatives across AI innovation with SG gov’t

Singapore – Tech giant Google, through Google Cloud, has announced partnership with Singapore’s Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) to strengthen AI cooperation in Singapore, including co-creating solutions, deepen AI capabilities in public service, and shape AI governance and ethics.

Google’s parent company Alphabet and its other subsidiaries will work closely with SNDGG’s National AI Office and other government agencies to co-create, test-bed, and scale AI solutions in key sectors like finance, sustainability, and healthcare.

In addition, Google Cloud will provide dedicated training resources and certification programs to cultivate deep AI and machine learning proficiency for identified public sector officers. These programs reinforce Google Cloud’s commitment to bridging the AI talent gap, and will build on Google’s Skills Ignition SG training program in partnership with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Lastly, Google Cloud will support the Singapore government’s efforts to shape AI governance and ethics in key sectors like finance. These efforts complement Google’s involvement in Singapore’s Advisory Council of the Ethical Use of AI.

Sherie Ng, country director for Singapore and Malaysia at Google Cloud, said, “Already recognized as a leading smart city, Singapore has continued to grow in stature as a global center of AI innovation and real-world application. It is a privilege to be the first technology company to enter into a partnership with SNDGG’s National AI Office to co-develop and deploy new AI solutions of value and relevance to Singaporeans and the future economy.” 

She added, “Through this public-private collaboration in the field of AI, we aim to advance the technology’s ability to deliver greater societal benefit in areas like financial inclusion, carbon footprint reduction, and personalised healthcare, while ensuring equity, privacy, transparency, and accountability.”

Meanwhile, Chng Zhenzhi, director of the National AI Office at SNDGG, commented, “This MOU is a win-win collaboration. Singapore will benefit from Google’s deep technical expertise and investments, while Google can tap on our rich innovation ecosystem. Singapore can also be a test-bed for Google’s efforts to trial new solutions safely, before introducing them to the region and beyond.” 

She added, “With the MOU, we can look forward to novel AI solutions that will make an impact on the way Singaporeans – and people around the world – live and work. This is one of the many examples of how the public service and private sector can come together to undertake innovative projects for the greater good.”