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Main Feature Marketing APAC

MARKETECH APAC’s top 5 stories for April: A data and AI company takes number 1 spot

This month’s top stories are all about game-changing old practices and breaking stereotypes in the industry. A new agency has just launched a new proprietary tech that aims to bring more science to the practice of media planning, while a popular short-video platform moves beyond its popularized brand of entertainment to launch a pilot educational series. 

Meanwhile, the world of gaming makes another comeback. Two companies have recently partnered to offer brands an inventory of a new type of advertising in the gaming world. An AI and data company has also offered a new solution to a marketplace that is of surging demand today – e-commerce; while this month also saw the appointment and elevation of one veteran in the area of loyalty marketing in APAC.

Rankings were sourced from Google Analytics from the period of 16 March to 15 April. Take a look. 

Top 5: Global platforms Anzu and Eskimi partner to offer in-game advertising to brands 

More brands will be able to better engage with gamers around the world and get their hands on a relatively new type of brand placement in games – in-game advertising – as two platforms have partnered to offer the said type of inventory to advertisers in Africa, Asia, and CIS, as well as Europe, and MENA.

Anzu.io is a global in-game advertising platform, while Eskimi is a full-stack programmatic and data platform. What Anzu offers are real-life advertisements that fit natively into games, and Yaniv Rozencweig, the director of business operations at Anzu, said that it is looking for a demand-side platform (DSP) like Eskimi that has a strong and agile tech team that is able to “make adjustments” in order to tap into its supply. 

MARKETECH APAC spoke to both Rozencweig and Monika Poškutė, the head of marketing at Eskimi, where both said that the partnership ultimately aims to solve the long-standing problem of intrusive ads. 

“Our mindset is very similar [and] basically the same, we believe that ads should not be intrusive, and they should not be a big distraction in your life. You’re supposed to have your activities online for the game that you’re playing on your mobile phone, and it is the game that you’re enjoying, it’s entertainment, [so] suddenly receiving like a pop-up [ad] is a distraction, it’s intrusive,” said Poškutė. 

They also said that the tie-up will be offering foremost the education to clients and brands on how to work around this unique type of advertising and how to best harness it to better connect to gamers which had already reached about 3 billion around the world. 

“You can find various user segments in this big gamer audience in a non-intrusive way, and we believe that by educating our clients about this new opportunity, we are able to offer new channels, [and] new engagement rates, and I could even say probably more loyal user segments,” added Poškutė. 

Top 4: JOLT Digital brings science to media planning through J-CAL 

Singapore-based digital agency JOLT Digital has recently unveiled its new tech for media planning J-CAL, or which stands for J-Calculator, which aims to turn the practice of media planning on its head by bringing more science to advertisers’ processes through econometric modeling. 

MARKETECH APAC spoke to the agency’s founder Sebastien Lepez, where he said that throughout his own experience in media planning, he found that most executives allocate media budget based on gut feel.

Lepez, a marketing veteran with over 13 years of experience in both the agency and client sides, shared that media planners usually use media metrics or the rate of likes, impressions, and views, and while, effective in its own way, still doesn’t integrate sales in the process. 

“We allocate the optimal media budget to the channels we have selected. Our tool is able to tell us exactly how many percent should be invested into each of the channels,” he said. 

In the development of J-CAL, five years’ worth of data across Southeast Asia was used to build econometric curves or what the agency calls response curves for each of the channels that are present on digital. 

“J-CAL has taken nine months to develop and I think we have created a technology that is very unique and very robust. A lot of data, efforts, and thinking has gone into it. We truly believe that it is going to game-change media planning,” Lepez stated.

He further said, “Our industry is in need for a change and it’s been requested by clients for many years. After years [of] working at agencies and clients, I had time to observe the gaps and now I am able with JOLT and with J-CAL to fill these gaps.”

Top 3: TikTok Singapore launches first-ever educational series

While TikTok is most popularly known as an entertainment platform, TikTok in Singapore aims to showcase that such is definitely the case and that the platform is far more reaching than just exciting dances and singing. With this, it launched last 31 March to 6 April its first educational series which has its pilot theme on careers on tech. 

The first-ever #JobTok educational live stream series is a lineup of shows that aims to equip the youth aspiring for tech careers with knowledge of the jobs and skillsets of the future in the industry to help them to make more informed career decisions in life.

“We recognize the need to dispel the uncertainty among today’s job seekers and equip them with the relevant skills to be future-ready, so with that idea in mind, we decided to launch the first-ever ‘JobTok’ educational live series to equip all the users in the platform with the knowledge and the skill set of the future to allow them to make more informed career decisions,” said Doreen Tan, user & content operations manager at TikTok Singapore, in an interview with MARKETECH APAC

The platform has roped in women leaders in tech, tech executives from the government, and even its own engineers to shed light on some of the most burning questions of tech enthusiasts. Segments presented were ‘Adulting Advice from Young GovTechies’, ‘The Faces Behind TikTok live’, and ‘Women Leadership in Tech’. 

‘Ultimately, what we are trying to do here is providing an insider look into the tech industry and to just spark greater interest among Singaporeans to enter this fast-growing industry,” added Tan.  

Top 2: Wyndham Hotels & Resorts names new senior director for marketing and loyalty in APAC

Just recently, hospitality giant Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has consolidated and rebranded its Southeast Asia Pacific Rim (SEAPR) unit to now represent the whole Asia Pacific, and with this, it has elevated its former director for marketing and loyalty in SEAPR Lynn Poh to now take the lead as the senior director for the hotel’s rewards program, Wyndham Rewards, in APAC.

MARKETECH APAC conversed with Poh to know more about what her first order of business will be as she takes on the role.

“My first order of business is integrating the marketing and loyalty teams in Asia Pacific, and plus, developing a strategic marketing plan for both digital and loyalty that will support the needs of our hotels across the region,” said Poh. 

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is one of the biggest hospitality chains in the world with brands across upscale, midscale, and value segments. The APAC leg currently comprises over 1,500 hotels, and within the running quarter of the year alone, the region has announced new additions to its portfolio with a new property in India state Gujarat, and inaugural entries in Nepal and Cambodia.

With tight travel restrictions in the region still in place, how does Lynn plan to keep the rewards program on its feet when such depends on recurring bookings? She said it’s about leveraging digital channels and employing social media strategies that will keep the brand on consumers’ radar. 

“We have seen positive news of travel bubbles coming out of certain destinations, so while we’re still very focused on integrated campaigns, we are also taking a sub-regional approach that’s tailored to market needs,” she shared. 

“So I agree that bookings have not reached historic levels, but throughout the pandemic, Wyndham had been really present in social media and digital channels, and we’ve been driving this message of dreaming to travel again, reconnecting with family and friends, so really driving that top-of-mind awareness through our social media platforms,” she added. 

Top 1: ADA launches new end-to-end e-commerce solution in APAC

Nabbing the top spot for this month of April is ADA, a company that uses deep data and AI capabilities to provide brands in Asia actionable marketing insights and brand and communication strategies. ADA garnered the highest readership for the month for its new e-commerce solution, which is an end-to-end offering for brands.

Speaking with MARKETECH APAC, Anurag Gupta, chief operating officer and chief of agency at ADA, said that what the company found was that while e-commerce is a booming industry in Southeast Asia, companies’ current solutions for online brands are very siloed. 

“There are companies who are driving traffic to the e-commerce platforms or marketplace, then there are companies helping brands optimize the customer journey, then there are companies helping them do fulfillment, but nobody’s linking everything together,” Gupta said. 

Hence, its launch of the new solution. 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.

Gupta said that even amid the increase in adoption of e-commerce, it is still seen as vanity and supplemental channel, where about 90% of sales are still dependent on offline purchases. With the new solution, ADA also aims to help companies understand that with the right direction and strategies, it can be a major channel for a brand. 

Gupta cites one of the pitfalls for brands on the customer journey, taking into example cosmetics brands, where most of the time, customers will come searching on the internet to look for different types, for example, of lipsticks. If brands don’t take the difference of keywords in search seriously, a seemingly small detail would be a big problem on online presence, he said. 

“[E-commerce] is a major part of the digital ecosystem. We see that companies are going to accelerate their e-commerce investments, it is going to be a much bigger channel in their portfolio, and hence, we want to prepare companies how to manage this,” stated Gupta. 

Watch our live interviews with the newsmakers themselves on the latest episode of MARKETECH APAC Reports, live on our YouTube channel.

This is in collaboration with Malaysia-based media company The Full Frontal.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

JOLT Digital launches new media planning technology

Singapore – Digital media agency JOLT Digital has announced the launch of its new media planning technology J-CAL, which allows marketers to create more effectiveness to their campaigns through calculated budget spend and expected return of ad spend (ROAS).

J-CAL is customizable to each client’s specificities and works for any size budget. It has been built using thousands of data points from campaigns over the past five years in Asia. Furthermore, J-CAL is not only focusing on campaigns that have a performance objective but also on branding campaigns. It is undeniable that branding is critical as it not only helps grow brand health metrics but also sales. 

“At JOLT, we think that allocating thousands of dollars deserves a scientific approach and that’s why we have created a technology, J-CAL, that predicts the most optimal budget allocation to each channel, as well as campaign’s return of ad spend (ROAS),” the company said in a press statement.

For Sebastien Lepez, founder and CEO of JOLT Digital, part of the reason why J-CAL was launched was due to the fact that most planners only rely on ‘gut feeling’ on how much a campaign should spend in order to be effective.

“After using J-CAL for some of our clients, we realized that something was missing. A campaign’s objective is not always focusing on performance. Most often there is also an objective of Brand building. That’s why we have incorporated a brand building dimension in J-CAL and in the calculation of the return of ad spend (ROAS),” Lepez explained. 

He also cited the recent news of Airbnb shifting their campaigns’ objective to brand building rather than performance as one of the inspirations for the media planning technology launch.

“J-CAL has taken nine months to develop and I think we have created a technology that is very unique and very robust. A lot of data, efforts and thinking has gone into it. We truly believe that it is going to game-change media planning,” Lepez stated.

He added, “Our industry is in need for a change and it’s been requested by clients for many years. After years working at agencies and clients, I had time to observe the gaps and now I am able with JOLT and with J-CAL to fill these gaps. J-CAL is going to game-change media planning and bring a more scientific approach to it.”

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

How a biased media planning practice made this CEO set own agency straight

Let me start with an anecdote.

10 years ago, when I was working for a big network agency and leading some big accounts, my boss came to see me and asked me to put an important media platform on the plans. I wasn’t really sure why he was asking me to include this specific media platform on my campaigns’ media plans whereas, the target audiences on any of my campaigns, were not consuming this specific media platform.

This didn’t make any sense from a media planning perspective.

It was early December and annual deals between media owners and agencies were about to close. It means that agencies committed to spend annually a certain amount of budget with each media owners, in exchange for rebates, cash, impressions, clicks that will be given exclusively to the agencies, and we were not close to the amount my agency promised to this specific media platform. Now it made all sense but it started to trigger lots of questions.

Just for the story I had to put this specific media platform on the plans and convince the clients that it was a good idea. I played team work but this changed me.

This is when I realized that the Media Planning in agencies was not neutral anymore, actually it was influenced by extra revenues that agencies could make through deals with media owners and would keep for themselves in order to increase their overall revenues.

Today, nothing has changed, these deals still exist and actually they are even more present than 10 years ago.

As an agency we witness it regularly when new media owners present to us their platform and at the end of the meeting, they inform us how much additional money we could make thanks to the referrals we would receive. This is an extra push to convince agencies to put a platform on the plan. And the more an agency invest in a platform, the more the referrals become.

Are media owners to blame for offering this extra source of revenue? No, I do not think so. It is more those who say yes to it that are fueling this.

Now, let me ask this question: Is it not the role of agencies to recommend to their clients the best media platforms to put on a plan based on certain criteria, like target audience’s media consumption, media objectives and performance?

How can this be achieved if agencies are recommending the ‘best’ platforms based on the extra revenues they are going to make? Media planning neutrality is gone!

Agencies must recommend the best plan and stay unbiased but this is far from reality nowadays. Agencies have lost their media planning neutrality.

One of the reasons for these ‘deals’ to flourish nowadays is that agencies’ remunerations have reduced across the years and they are trying to keep with the same level of revenues thanks to the referrals, free impressions, free clicks given by media owners at the end of the year. However, agencies should not walk this path and should stick to what makes them media agencies: expert at planning the best channels to deliver against campaigns’ objectives.

Now that I have founded my own digital media agency, JOLT Digital in Singapore, I make it a point that our system welcomes all referrals, rebates, and free clicks and free impressions we can receive by media owners, so we can pass them to clients. With rebates, we pass a hundred percent to them.

We do this so we can maintain planning that is neutral, free from influences in media recommendations. With JOLT Digital, where we live by the vision of ‘Game-changing is in our DNA’, I aim to direct my team in implementing disruptive practices, which are not just meant to be innovative, but most especially, beneficial with the client’s best interest at heart.

It is essential that as media and marketing professionals that we retain our integrity. What must reign supreme at all times is the campaign results to be delivered. We are ex-clients and we can truly put ourselves into the clients’ shoes, putting faith in media partners, trusting we will all together deliver to the objectives with full commitment and passion.

The author is Sebastien Lepez, CEO and founder of JOLT Digital.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Trapper to take charge of Spritzer Malaysia’s integrated media business

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Natural bottled water brand, Spritzer, has appointed Trapper as its media partner, effective this month. The agency will be responsible for integrated media duties for all Spritzer brands.  

Spritzer said in a press statement that it looks to strengthen its market leadership and drive exciting new segments for business growth. Spritzer brands include Spritzer Natural Mineral Water, Spritzer Tinge, Spritzer So Tinge!, Spritzer Sparkling, and Acilis by Spritzer. 

Elaine Ho, Spritzer’s group marketing manager, shared that the partnership aims to double down on brand awareness as well as top-of mind recall among Malaysians.

“We are excited to kick-start our journey with Trapper to innovate our media strategies. We hope to reach our customers at the right touch points and connect with them meaningfully through a precise understanding of their journey. We look forward to a great partnership with Trapper, working together to elevate our brands,” she said.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Trapper Sue-Anne Lim, commented, “Sharp targeting means maximizing channel potential and using meaningful data to help drive both retail and e-commerce sales, which is critical to Spritzer’s strategy. We are well-prepared to be agile and responsive to sudden market changes.”

Chief Executive of Trapper Interactive, Trapper Media Group’s digital marketing division, Kenneth Wong added, “We believe that we are well-positioned to unleash Spritzer’s untapped potential as it seeks to bring 100% natural rainforest water to all Malaysian homes”.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Online art marketplace RtistiQ hands media planning, buying duties to JOLT Digital

Singapore – RtistiQ, a new online marketplace in Singapore dedicated to art and collectibles, has chosen digital media agency, JOLT Digital, to handle its media planning and buying across all digital channels. These include paid Social, SEM, and SEO, as well as programmatic, among channels. 

Through RtistiQ, artists are given the opportunity to promote their creations to an international audience. RtistiQ uses blockchain technology to allow artists to authenticate and mark ownership of their creations, aimed at formalizing and making art transactions more transparent.

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Co-founder and CEO of RtistiQ, Jothi Menon, shared that after releasing the beta version of the platform to onboard artists, they were on the lookout for a partner to support its marketing initiatives. He said the company found JOLT Digital to be the rightful agency, providing 360-degree coverage across all digital mediums with a very quick turnaround. 

“It has been a perfect partnership with both JOLT and [RtistiQ’s] belief in using latest technologies to deal with existing problems in the industries we operate in. More importantly, we both have been working with the sense of offering better transparency to our customers and technology is a key enabler for that to happen,” Menon said. 

Meanwhile, Seb Lepez, JOLT Digital’s CEO and founder, echoes the same sentiment, believing that both of the parties’ vision to disrupt traditional methods is a great foundation for the new partnership. 

“RtistiQ is trying to change the way art is sold from the authentication to the tracking via blockchain and then sold to the consumer. This is in a way very similar to JOLT Digital where both companies want to change an industry through the usage of unique technologies so end consumers and customers can benefit from it. I can see that we are both on a mission to game-change outdated industries,” he said. 

Just recently, JOLT digital has also bagged another account, Singapore telecom, TPG Telecom.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

OMD bags F&B Danone media business for Malaysia, Thailand

Singapore – Following a multi-agency pitch, Omnicom Media Group-owned agency OMD has successfully won F&B company Danone’s account, officially becoming its media agency for the Malaysia and Thailand business. 

The appointment is inked to span a three-year partnership. OMD will be charged with overseeing the media planning and buying duties for the company across traditional and digital channels. 

Both OMD’s Thailand and Malaysia leg will be handling the company’s Growing up milk brands such as Dumex and Hi-Q. Anca Everts, marketing director of Danone Malaysia said, “When we partner with a media agency, we look out for that one team who can work as an extension of our own to naturally co-build winning campaigns for our Growing up milk brands in Malaysia.”

OMD believes that their display of a strategic approach via digital and data-led expertise is what ultimately led them to clinching the account. Marketing Director of Danone Thailand Korakot Vuthihirunthamrong said that they were impressed by the agency’s level of commitment and enthusiasm which the Thailand team had demonstrated throughout the pitch process.

OMD APAC CEO Stephen Li commented, “When coupled with our demonstrated commitment to Danone, strategic and data-driven solutions forge a cutting-edge partnership that make every media dollar work harder, resulting in better business outcomes.”