Technology Featured Global

DEPT launches new practice to help brands with AI solutions

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Global digital agency DEPT has launched DEPT®/AI, its new AI-focused practice that aims to help brands solve complex challenges and increase productivity through turnkey AI solutions and innovative creative experiences.

With a multidisciplinary team of over 400 specialists on five continents, DEPT®/AI enabled 30% of the agency’s revenue in 2022 and boasts a client portfolio that includes Philips, Google, and eBay.

“AI is unlocking limitless possibilities and potential for brands,” said Isabel Perry, VP of Emerging Technology at DEPT. She also explained that one of the main reasons for the launch is that DEPT’s clients are eager to leverage AI but are often daunted by the complex questions surrounding design, ethics, and operations.

“We give them an experienced AI implementation partner to capitalise on today’s opportunities, in a way that goes beyond the hype and makes sense for their business,” she added.

Dimi Albers, global CEO at DEPT also said, “We’ve been pioneering AI technology for over six years, helping brands like Just Eat Takeaway to deliver personalisation at scale, and Philips to analyse its data more effectively. We’ll continue to push the potential of AI, and believe it will power 80% of what we do as a marketing and technology services provider.”

The launch follows DEPT’s AI initiatives such as the AI-powered docking station to steer cargo ships, a machine learning hand tracking system to teach the American Sign Language alphabet, and the generative AI collectible cards for eBay’s MCM Comic Con campaign.

Last December, DEPT also launched a 300-person team called WEB3/DEPT to aid clients in experimenting with blockchain technology and building immersive experiences in the metaverse.

Marketing Featured Global

GroupM officially launches combined global agency EssenceMediaCom

Singapore – Committed to delivering marketing breakthroughs, Media investment company GroupM has officially launched its newest and largest agency EssenceMediaCom, which will provide modern integrated media solutions for brands. With pioneer agencies Essence and Mediacom joining forces, the breakthrough agency will deliver performance, data, analytics and creative technology DNA with scaled multichannel audience planning and strategic media expertise.

EssenceMediaCom comprises 10,000 people across 120 offices in 96 markets. The agency’s global roster includes Adidas, Bayer, Dell, Google, Mars, NBCUniversal, PlayStation, Procter & Gamble, The Coca-Cola Company and Uber.

Through EssenceMediacom’s Operating System (EMOS), the modular suite of tools and data will connect Essence, MediaCom and GroupM’s technology to make it available for the agency’s teams and clients across the globe.

GroupM, being the media investment management arm of WPP, will be able to access the richest data, most robust benchmarks and most advanced capabilities in the market. This will make the agency in providing comprehensive solutions for all marketing challenges.

Rupert McPetrie, CEO of EssenceMediacom’s APAC expressed his excitement about combining Essence and MediaCom. He also highlighted that they look forward to working together and continually push media possibilities with category-defining innovations.

Meanwhile, global CEO of EssenceMediacom Nick Lawson said, “What will underpin our groundbreaking agency is our people, and we will be steadfast in our commitment to provide an environment of continuous learning so they can grow and be the best they can be. Together, and with analytics, data and technology at our heart, I have no doubt we will deliver breakthroughs across our entire client base.”

Lastly, Christian Juhl, global CEO of GroupM added, “The fusion of Essence’s measurement and data-driven DNA with MediaCom’s scale and strategic expertise creates something truly unique in the marketplace.”

GroupM announced the agency merger of Essence and MediaCom with the integration of Mindshare and Neo back in 2022. This was made to help clients in adjusting to the evolving media landscape and provide them with performance solutions.

Platforms Featured Global

Lotame debuts next-gen data platform to optimise first-party data

New York – Global technology company Lotame has launched its next-generation data platform Spherical, which is targeted at helping marketers quickly drive the most value from known and unknown first-party data for customer engagement and acquisition.

The platform also aims to empower brands and media owners to drive growth and revenue through actionable customer intelligence, data-informed audiences, and identity-powered activation in cookie-restricted, cookie-enabled, or authenticated environments. 

Spherical will be enabling interoperability and data portability across brand and media owner tech stacks. It also aims to extend first-party data living in data warehouses or customer data platforms (CDPs) into the marketing and advertising technology (madtech) ecosystem. 

Moreover, leading CDPs integrated with Spherical will include BlueConic, Meiro, mParticle, Rudderstack, Salesforce, Simon Data, Tealium and Treasure Data. Lotame plans to expand support to additional CDPs on an ongoing basis.

Andy Monfried, Lotame’s CEO and founder, shared the news in his talk at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting. He said, “There’s no shortage of pain in our industry. Everyone wants first-party data but not everyone has it. Many that have it don’t know how to make the most of it. Preserving addressability and data connectivity are gridlocked by a host of macro and micro issues.”

He also added that Spherical was designed to address these issues instead of focusing on the ‘symptoms.’

Carlos Payares, CSO LATAM at Omnicom Media Group, also commented, “Spherical empowers digitally native brands to onboard customer emails as they authenticate onsite in real time. That eliminates the lag time between first-party data ingestion and activation, and is a tremendous competitive advantage, especially in markets with limited onboarding functionality. We’re excited to test with our clients straightaway.”

Technology Featured APAC

Twilio, extends partnership, to build multi-country contact centres

Singapore – As part of expanding their partnership in the APAC region, customer engagement platform Twilio and cloud communication AI provider released SeaX, a GTM bundle for Twilio Flex targeted at helping businesses streamline omnichannel communications.

The solution is also expected to streamline the rollout of a complete contact centre for multinational businesses that need to launch solutions in many countries or across multiple geographies and timezones like Southeast Asia, Europe, or different states in the U.S.

SeaX also includes Twilio Flex plugins that will address common contact centre requirements while keeping customization flexibility.

This also supports omnichannel messaging to webchat, SMS, Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, and Google Business Messages, amongst others. SeaX also allows integration with common CRM software such as Zendesk, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Its customers have likewise reported time and cost savings to deploy all services to production and get agents on calls in less than 10 days.

“We’re excited about the partnership between Twilio and to bring SeaX to the market. The launch of this bundle – which leverages Twilio Flex – will empower organizations to build a programmable contact center platform that allows them to build customer engagement applications that fit their business,” said Frankco Shum, director of APJ Flex Partners at Twilio.

J Arnold & Associates’ Principal Jon Arnold also said, “Seasalt AI understands the importance of bringing together conversational AI and the multichannel contact center into the same experience. Twilio has been working with the in-house developers of businesses large and small for many years, helping them create customized customer and agent experiences.”

“SeaX is a way to quickly get Twilio Flex up and running out of the box out of the box and also allows for deep customization,” he added.

Xuchen Yao, CEO of, also commented, “The swift collaboration between Twilio and greatly accelerated customer’s contact center operations in the APJ region. Most customers wanted an operational contact center ‘yesterday’, and we delighted them with a launching date ‘next week’. This quick launch bundle is well adapted to the fast-paced business demand in APJ.” 

Twilio has also previously launched Twilio Live, a solution that allows businesses to integrate audio and video live streaming solutions into their applications.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Filipino singer Juan Karlos Labajo launches own job portal, Raket.PH

Pampanga, Philippines — The multi-platinum singer-songwriter Juan Karlos Labajo widens his portfolio with his latest move on entrepreneurship as co-founder of Raket.PH, an online job marketplace for Filipino freelancers. The platform is owned and operated by The Rocket Inc, a startup company headquartered in Angeles City, Pampanga.

The idea of a digital platform aiming to curb the number of unemployed and underemployed workers during this pandemic convinced the artist to proceed with this endeavour. Rooting from his experiences as a young breadwinner, Labajo sympathizes with his kababayans in dealing with the struggles of providing for the family’s daily needs.

Labajo discussed, “As a musician, gigs and projects come and go. I’ve experienced having no projects for months, but my responsibility to my family doesn’t stop when I don’t have a job. This led me to invest in a platform that strives to help freelancers like myself.”

This project was brought to life alongside his co-founders, Peng Enriquez and Carlet Enriquez, who also operate Fullstack HQ, a top tech company based in Pampanga.

“I’m truly grateful to these two amazing people for being a strong unit in realizing this common vision toward the welfare of every Pinoy independent worker,” Labajo said.

As of date, Raket.PH is in its alpha stage and recently launched its RaketShip feature, which functions as an online portfolio and resumes showcasing a freelancer’s information and services. Other major developments are expected to be introduced throughout the whole year 2022.

Marketing Featured ANZ

Blis launches e-guide and interactive calculator for marketers to embrace privacy-first reality

Sydney, Australia – Blis, the audience-first platform that doesn’t rely on personal data, has announced the launch of its new e-guide, entitled ‘Missing something? Finding the audiences no one is talking about…yet’. The new interactive e-guide was launched to assist marketers to understand the real impact of ID-reliant solutions on addressable audiences and the virtues of privacy-first solutions that don’t rely on IDs to achieve accuracy at scale.

Changes to IDFAs and cookies have fundamentally impacted the ad ecosystem, from planning to targeting and measuring campaigns. The new e-guide looks at data from the UK, Europe, United States, Australia and New Zealand to demonstrate that almost half of the digital addressable audiences on mobile – and nearly half on desktop – are being missed due to IDs.

To enable marketers to uncover the people behind these percentages, Blis also launched its new interactive calculator showing which lifestyle audiences are being impacted the most by this drastic audience deprecation, covering 10 lifestyle audiences from travellers to fashionistas.

From questioning the sustainability of the solutions to understanding different technologies’ limitations, the guide highlights three top tips for marketers to consider when choosing their advertising partners. Blis hopes the e-guide will help brands and agencies better understand how to embrace the privacy-first reality and adjust expectations and methods of targeting, to find and reach their missing audiences.

Aaron McKee, CTO of Blis, said, “There’s still this belief that brands are achieving the right audience at scale – and that that will only change once the Chrome deprecation comes into force. But the current reality is much more troubling, as advertisers that still rely on IDs are already missing out on almost half of their audiences.”

Mckee adds, “This is happening right now, in front of our eyes and marketers need to have the right questions in mind when choosing their advertising partners. Today, not tomorrow. If your partners tell you they’re still reaching your precise audiences at scale with ID-only or cookie-led solutions, you’ll see that the numbers in our ‘missing audience calculator’ tell a different story”.

The e-guide is available for download and reinforces Blis’ commitment to audience-first targeting at a scale that doesn’t rely on personal data. Blis’ approach is based on accurate, consented location data, combined with a range of rich online datasets giving clients the deepest audience understanding available.

SME Featured APAC

Getty Images launches new interactive tool to help brands develop data-driven content strategies

New York, USA – Getty Images has launched VisualGPS Insights, a new interactive tool designed to help businesses develop content strategies backed up with data and visual guidance. With the new platform, users can view and analyse over 2.5 billion annual searches and download queries from Getty Images as well as iStock, its e-commerce platform focused on SMBs, SMEs and creatives.

In addition, the VisualGPS Insights will enable creatives, advertisers and SMBs with actionable data and insights to determine whether they should follow or avoid the most popular content and whether their campaigns are timed correctly and culturally resonant to create powerfully visual and competitive marketing strategies.

One of the early adopters, Miko Smith, owner of Bluebird Consulting, said, “I’m always looking for something to provide a solution. This would be a game-changer. If I’m running ads for a client, it’s given me another reassurance that I can look here and say, okay, let’s budget, let’s send some to India. It looks like India, let’s focus on India and the United States.”

Meanwhile, Candace Marks, senior director of product management at Getty Images and iStock, shared, “Through quick takes on visual trends and industry data, VisualGPS Insights provides customers with a unique jumping-off point for them to make data-driven decisions when it comes to their marketing strategies, whether that is deciding if they want to follow or avoid the most popular content or find inspiration on how to market their offerings in a unique and innovative way.” 

Marks added, “Through this tool, we will provide unique access to proprietary data they will not find elsewhere to empower our clients to get in front of where their industry is headed and how it is reacting to what consumers care about.”

All registered iStock customers across the world have access to the free VisualGPS Insights tool, which enables organizations to leverage real-time visual trends. As a strategic tool, the service aims to give enterprises a better knowledge of how much interest there is in various content inquiries.

Marketing Featured East Asia

Apparel brand K-Way taps Bluebell Group, launches in HK market

Hong Kong — Bluebell Group has announced its partnership with K-Way French outwear brand. Following the brand’s in-market digital launch in June, the new mono-brand physical store opening is planned for October 2022 at Pacific Place under the Swire Group, one of Hong Kong’s premium shopping malls.

The iconic French brand known for its windbreaker, lifestyle fashion and sportswear is part of BasicNet, an Italian company that also owns Kappa, Superga, Briko, and Sebago, and is on track to rapidly expand beyond its homebase. Bluebell Group, an Asian brand curator and operator, will manage the brand’s overall presence including an online e-commerce shop, local marketing activation, and overall retail operations.

K-Way will be introduced to Hong Kong consumers first through its online and a planned physical store in October. Targeting the active young local audience, and offering a mix of technical meets fashion apparel, the brand’s footprint is expected to grow further in Hong Kong and into Mainland China later this year.

Lorenzo Boglione, executive vice chairman of BasicNet, said, “We are very proud to open the first K-Way mono-brand store in Hong Kong and happy to embark on a path to a long presence in the city for the brand and for a long partnership between BasicNet and Bluebell.”

Meanwhile, Samy Redjeb, managing director for Bluebell group Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, shared, “We have no doubt K-Way will become an anchor brand for us in Hong Kong, where retail today is geared solely on local consumption. The brand offers a desirable and accessible lifestyle of unisex fashion and kids’ wear, which is one of our core focus for the development of this market. BasicNet has some very exciting global growth plans and hype collaborations for K-Way and we are pleased to play a role in bringing something fresh and playful to our Asian consumers.”

Marketing Featured APAC

Former WPP, JWT veterans launch design agency LittleGiant

India — Ushering in the next era of creativity where marketing goes above, and beyond the status quo, Siddhartha Vinchurkar, Robin Bade and Kasper Hilden, all former WPP and Wunderman Thompson veterans, have launched their design agency named ‘LittleGiant’. The agency, or the ‘Anti-Agency’, is a unique collective of creators, believers and make-believers.

With a strong entrepreneurial heritage and challenger mentality, the newly introduced design ‘Anti-Agency’ is poised to deliver technological and creative solutions that global brands demand. The capabilities of LittleGiant are oriented around consumer experiences, and the agency also provides extensive services in digital designs namely in web + mobile user experience and user interface, applications, websites, e-commerce, and brand films.

The previous clientele comprises purpose-driven, respected global brands like Mercedes, Unilever, HSBC, Microsoft, Nokia, Vodafone, Aston Martin and many more.

Siddhartha Vinchurkar, CEO of LittleGiant India, said, “At LittleGiant, we intend to grow together with our clients. Our team members come from geographies and cultures, and I strongly believe that our diversity is our strength. Keeping the ever-inspiring lines by R.N. Tagore in my mind, ‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high’. I’m looking forward to this new journey with my ‘old’ global family of co-founders.’’

With a close-knit team of modern entrepreneurs, LittleGiant is a group of young and agile creators with a disruptor mindset. The team at LittleGiant is passionate and adept in the art of compelling communication and knows the drill really well.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

DWG launches the Smiles Remittance app in SG to assist foreign workers

Singapore — IT and fintech company Digital Wallet Group (DWG) has launched the Smiles Remittance application in Singapore. Its subsidiary, Digital Wallet Singapore, will manage the operations with local partner bank CIMB Bank Singapore. The initial outbound remittance corridors from Singapore are the Philippines and Indonesia, with other countries expected to be added by 2023.

Created by DWG’s subsidiary, Digital Wallet Corporation, Smiles is Japan’s first mobile remittance service providing a convenient and user-friendly mobile experience, low remittance fees, and 24/7 accessibility. The mobile app offers a simple, fast and transparent, six-step in-app remittance process. It also provides a range of payout options, including bank credits and cash pickup in thousands of locations globally. Besides English, Smiles offers language options in Tagalog and Bahasa Indonesia, with Vietnamese and Spanish in the pipeline.

Eiji Miyakawa, founder and CEO of Digital Wallet Group, said, “Our purpose is to support foreign workers and ensure the lifeline to their families is timely and convenient by providing a secure, round-the-clock mobile remittance channel. We are confident that the extension of our Smiles network to Singapore will benefit the foreign worker community and further support our continued expansion across the Asia Pacific.”

On April 16 2022, the Philippine ambassador to Singapore, H.E. Joseph del Mar Yap, graced the opening of the Smiles Studio. He also met with selected foreign workers in Singapore who were recognized for their long-term support of families back home. The personal stories behind these long-time overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) exemplify the spirit of Smiles’ ‘Pride of OFW’ campaign, a platform for personal stories of challenges and triumphs shared by OFWs.

The global pandemic has impacted the cross-border movement of foreign workers severely affecting in-bound chances during their off days when they usually visit over-the-counter remittance services. However, mobile remittance applications like Smiles enable foreign workers to overcome such challenges and have full access to financial services to support families at home.

Roland Pagdanganan, MD of Digital Wallet Singapore, shared, “With the launch of Smiles in Singapore, I would like foreign workers to experience our innovative mobile remittance service, where the customer experience, service delivery, and community support are in our DNA. Additionally, a portion of our Singapore revenue will go towards Smiles donation campaigns to help organizations for disaster and humanitarian relief.”

The introduction of the Smiles app in Singapore follows and complements DWG’s acquisition of RediMoney Express in August 2021, commencing the conversion process of its retail and app assets to Smiles.