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MARKETECH APAC’s Top 5 Stories for December: APAC content marketing agency bags top spot

We can’t believe we are now down to the last roundup of top stories for 2021! It has been a great year recognizing the most well-loved brands and stories in marketing and tech for the year.

Our monthly deep dive and conversation with the top brands resulted in the much-awaited regular MARKETECH APAC Reports, and this month of December is no less an exciting list of one-of-a-kind campaigns, inspiring new leadership appointments, and fresh product launches. 

This month, we saw a food delivery platform moving into an entirely new vertical of consumer electronics. This period, a philippine arm of a global communications agency also announced a new business director, while, a content marketing agency with a presence in APAC unveiled an expansive roster of new hires in the region within its client servicing, creative production, and editorial teams. 

For the month, a very interesting campaign from a BNPL service in Singapore has also entered the list for bringing back audiences to the golden age of advertising in the 80s. Meanwhile, our MARKETECH Spotlight episode on a digital agency in Malaysia also came out on top for walking us through behind the scenes of incorporating AR and VR in marketing campaigns. 

Learn more about the top stories that will be closing off our 2021 with a bang:

Top 5: MY digital agency Unicom Interactive Digital on MARKETECH Spotlight

MARKETECH Spotlight_AR_UID

For our Top 5 story, we have the MARKETECH Spotlight episode of Unicom Interactive Digital, a fast-leading digital agency in Malaysia. 

In an interview with its COO Jareth Eng, we learn more about how brands are incorporating the tech of AR and VR in their marketing campaigns, and the best ways to deliver such that would effectively engage audiences at the same time push brands be top-of-mind. 

Having helped numerous brands develop immersive campaigns since the start of the pandemic, Eng shared the agency observed that content remains to be the top determinant of a success of a campaign. 

He says content must above all be personalized and authentic. 

“More and more, let’s be honest, we start to get bored of the same stuff, and we start to look for authenticity in content, because there are so much paid advertisements today [and] so much paid endorsements, and we reach a point where we do not know what is being said is real or not,” said Eng in the interview. 

Eng also shared his thoughts on the role of digital moving forward in the pandemic, “The perks of adding digital elements to campaigns have proven themselves during the past year. Even as we head back to a norm that we were used to, digital elements will still play a part.”

Top 4: Mel Panabi joins Red Havas PH as new business director

Havas Ortega Mel Panabi

Havas Group’s media and communications agency in the Philippines, Havas Ortega, has appointed Mel Panabi, former vice president of marketing communications at energy tech business WeGen Distributed Energy Philippines, as the new business director of its global public relations, social and experiential agency micro-network.

Through his new role, Panabi will be developing new products and services that will further strengthen Red Havas’ position in the country’s public relations and brands landscape.

MARKETECH APAC spoke with Panabi to know more about the area he is looking to prioritize in the role.

“I will be prioritizing promoting the ‘meaningful brands’ concepts of the agency. The global Red Havas Media Group actually made a study called ‘Meaningful Brands’, and it showed that people are now looking at the collective benefits provided by a brand, and its role in society,” said Panabi in the interview.

He adds that he is eager to start Red Havas’ sustainability and thoughtful corporate responsibility conversation. 

“One other thing is that the United Nations’ sustainable development goal is something that the brands need a lot, which is a space we want to occupy. We want to be associated with that kind of ‘meaningful brands’ and sustainability conversation,” he said.

Top 3: BNPL service Pace launches 80’s themed campaign

Pace campaign I Got This

Buy Now Pay Later service Pace in Singapore enters our top stories for bringing a very refreshing and unique creative campaign that brought people back to the vibrant pop culture of the 80’s. 

Armed with a video and an OOH ad, audiences saw VHS effect shorts complete with authentic 80s fashion, while decals on platform doors at train stations were reminiscent of the classic shopping advertisements from the period.

Speaking with MARKETECH APAC, Daren Goh, Pace’s head of growth, said that while BNPL is an inspiring tool for people to be financially responsible, payments could be something boring and pedestrian, hence, the push for the one-of-a-kind creative. 

“We thought 80’s was great because it’s something that any generation can relate to whether you’re [a baby boomer], even to Gen Z folks who are interested [in] how it is like [in the] 90s and 80s,” said Goh. 

He also shared that stimulating the feeling of Nostalgia was the goal.

“[80’s] seem like simple times and just really great times. So I guess we could tap into so many different feelings and people also see that no matter what age they are from,” said Goh.

Top 2: foodpanda to now offer delivery for consumer electronics via tie-up with Xiaomi

foodpanda x xiaomi

The leading food delivery platform in Asia, foodpanda, will now move to offer a wide range of consumer electronics and appliances for on-demand deliveries in Singapore and Thailand.

Partnering with Chinese tech giant Xiaomi, foodpanda will be offering Xiaomi’s products ranging from smart devices, audio, and mobile accessories, to household appliances, and will be delivered to homes within 30 minutes.

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Christian Urban, foodpanda’s head of marketplace of new verticals for APAC, shared, “Xiaomi is one of the great new vendors coming on board recently, and of course, a very popular brand and we are super happy about that. They are on board with hundreds of their products from their flagship stores across Singapore and Thailand.”

Regarding the platform’s new partnerships and offerings in 2022, Urban said that they want to enable more and more vendors to join their marketplace, helping them to digitize and get their goods delivered within 30 minutes.

“Our goal is to serve a large portion of essential and non-essential goods, and there is actually a strong demand for it. Hence, strategically, the goal is to go deeper and offer more of those goods to our customers,” he added.

Top 1: Content marketing agency Green Park Content bolsters APAC presence with new hire lineup

Green-Park-Content-APAC-New-Hires

For this month’s #1 story, we take a look at the expansive company hire move by content marketing agency Green Park Content for the Asia-Pacific region. 

The hires, which were made in November, span across three major work categories: the client servicing team, creative production team, and the editorial team. In addition to these new hires, GPC also announced the promotions of some of its senior leaders, including Que Ramli to the role of global social media lead, Martin Niens as head of operations, and Fe Husaint who was recently promoted to the role of creative and global brand head.

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Marcelo Bittencourt, managing director for APAC at GPC, shared that ever since GPC started out in APAC four and a half years ago with only two hires, they have tested the waters of the business in the region and have since grown to provide various services such as search engine optimization and editorial content.

“The goal for GPC in APAC is [trying] to answer to our global FMCG clients on how we can be more localized, how can we have content that is meaningful for the local countries, because we are seeing a shift from budgets being centralized, and we are seeing how important it is, and how empowered are the local marketers are in the countries. So [we] want to be there with them because we are a part of a global [and] regional work lines and as close to their local operations we can be,” Bittencourt stated.

On his insights on content development, he said, “Content is about connection, content is about building a bond with the audience. You cannot do this if you are not ‘there’, if you’re not using slang, if you’re not understanding what is the environment that you have. This is the biggest goal for us: to be able to grow our local expertise in the countries in APAC, to be able to be that partner to our global clients., and be able to answer their strategies to deliver their brand purpose with quality and with trust.”

Rankings‌ ‌are‌ ‌based‌ ‌on‌ ‌Google‌ ‌Analytics‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌period‌ ‌of‌ ‌16th‌ ‌November to 15th‌ ‌December.

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

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

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Main Feature Technology Partners

Spotlight: MY-based digital agency on crafting immersive campaigns and the future of AR/VR in marketing

Immersive technology used to be a far-fetch concept, provided only by lofty-funded companies and experienced and appreciated only by banked consumers capable of grabbing cutting-edge tech. Today, innovation in tech has seen more than just a sophistication in features but has evolved to provide the most important development of all – AR and VR can now be experienced by everyone. 

When mobile game Pokémon GO was released in 2016, AR had started to become a household name. Now, with the unprecedented digital lifestyle brought on by the pandemic, AR and VR had similarly risen to new heights – becoming brands’ top consumer engagement strategy, infiltrating people’s everyday life.

For the latest episode of MARKETECH Spotlight, we sat down with Malaysia’s fast-growing digital experience agency Unicom Interactive Digital (UID) to deep dive into how these digital experiences are developed. Through a conversation with its Chief Operating Officer Jareth Eng, we were let on the behind-the-scenes of AR development, and most importantly, the best practices and future trends in immersive technology straight from the experience builder.

Watch the full MARKETECH Spotlight episode on Unicom Interactive Digital feat. Chief Operating Officer Jareth Eng

Pivoting from on-ground activations to digital experiences

Pre-pandemic, UID started out as a provider of on-ground activations, but just like every business during the pandemic, the digital agency had to pivot to meet new demands with the firm finding itself at the cusp of a challenge and an opportunity.

“UID is in [the] position [of] bridging traditional marketing norms with digital touch,” said Eng in the MARKETECH Spotlight interview.

With its core specialization in physical to hybrid marketing activations, it didn’t come easy for the agency to shift to crafting purely web and digital experiences.

One of the on-ground activations UID did pre-pandemic for Eu Yan Sang, a Traditional Chinese Medicine brand in Malaysia.

“Suddenly, there was an influx of inquiries [asking] could you do this web-based campaign for us, could you build this digital site for us, and then we thought, why not?” shared Eng. 

Before the demand for digital risen, UID had worked with brands like Clarins, Victoria’s Secret, and TeaLive, and a staple of the on-ground activations UID mounted was installed with touch-screen and sensor devices that amplified consumer engagement. 

Transforming the firm’s value proposition to delivering web-based experiences was not something that UID was a stranger to. As Eng puts it, UID had the skillset and the ‘tools’ to build ‘software’ and that although partially an uncharted territory for them, there had been no reason to “stop us from trying.”

“Since then, we went full-force ahead, trying out [and] testing out what works [and] what doesn’t work, and we just kept finding our process, and that’s how we got to where we are today,” said Eng.

The characteristics of a good digital experience

With consumers locked in the four corners of their abodes at the height of the pandemic, the ways to explore products and services have been drastically reduced. With the presence of e-commerce, consumers are still able to fulfill their transactions, but only a similar live brand engagement can answer to consumers’ indulgence – and this is what has been the greatest role of AR and VR at this period.

After over a year, UID is finding firm its ground and has since launched a virtual concept store for skincare brand Sulwhasoo and AR applications for FMCG Nestle and Ascenda, telco Maxis, and skincare Aiken, among many others.

First off, Eng says that the common denominator among successful campaigns is content, emphasizing on the importance of ‘personalizing’ content. Eng’s advice? Be real, be sincere.

One of the things enjoyed today is the increased accessibility to almost any type of digital content and comes with that is the heightened demand to rummage through and find the one that’s most engaging and trustworthy, therefore, making personalization and authenticity top values, according to Eng.

“More and more, let’s be honest, we start to get bored of the same stuff, and we start to look for authenticity in content, because there are so much paid advertisements today [and] so much paid endorsements, and we reach a point where we do not know what is being said is real or not.”

Technically, Eng cites the element of building a good digital infrastructure, more specifically on the issue of loading speeds, as a vital aspect of a good digital experience. On-demand is now the name of the game and said area, when overlooked, can be a dealbreaker for brands. 

A basic example would be, Eng continues, when a brand is running an AR campaign based on QR codes and upon scanning, a consumer is made to wait, that dead air becomes a potential pitfall where they ought to abandon the experience. 

“It’s a matter of milliseconds that you will lose a potential customer, this is why infrastructure is very important,” said Eng.

Now, Eng says that besides knowing the components of a highly-engaging digital experience, brands must simply decide to be a proactive player in the digital space. With digital the present and future of marketing, this is the way brands are able to stay ‘relevant’.

“The drive towards digital transformation may have been fueled by the pandemic but even as the world recovers and we are no longer restricted by social distancing constraints or pandemic constraints, the perks of adding digital elements to campaigns have proven themselves during the past year. Even as we head back to a norm that we were used to, digital elements will still play a part,” said Eng. 

Lastly, as a digital partner themself, Eng stresses the importance for brands to find a ‘good match’. He says it all boils down to the chemistry between the brand and agency.

“Finding a good digital partner is very important. We could be a good fit, we could not be a good fit,” Eng commented. 

He adds, “A digital partner that understands what your brand is trying to achieve is gonna be key.” 

With UID’s case, Eng believes the firm’s strongest suit is their unique perspective of having been able to execute both on-ground and digital campaigns, and therefore having a good combination of the skills and knowledge of both. 

“As a company that was borne out of delivering on-ground campaigns to the digitalization of campaigns…I’m not saying that we are the best but [we] have learned the lessons,” said Eng.

The process of building a digital experience

According to Forbes’ tech council, remote try-on capabilities will be one of the biggest tech trends that will impact business and consumer marketplaces moving forward, and therefore, VR and AR will carve an even more pivotal role in making this stride possible.

In order to bring this to fruition, players in the digital ecosystem must work hand in hand. A brand with a platform to engage and influence the consumer must forge strategic partnerships with VR and AR experience builders that share the same values and vision. 

A combination of simplification, innovation, and strategic data, Eng says, is what will hit the ground running for both agency and brand, and what would, eventually, set the record for one-of-a-kind and out-of-the-box marketing campaigns.

First, the process from conceptualization to execution must be simplified. Eng shared that in UID’s case, the process is made seamless by simply removing any technical jargon from the communication. 

“As former marketers ourselves, we understand the pain that marketers face especially when dealing with tech. We don’t bombard you with all the technical jargon,” said Eng.

With AR and VR a fixture of the burgeoning new-age tech, innovation will always be at the heart of building these ultra-immersive brand engagements, and Eng couldn’t agree more. 

He says that with UID, innovation is built from dealing with the roots, that is, learning a brand’s story – how they operate pre-pandemic so that the agency is able to bring out a digital experience that is both never-before-seen but also a continuity of a brand’s identity. 

“As brands are restricted by physicality in recent times, such restrictions don’t apply in the digital space,” said Eng. 

He adds, “Tell us what you used to do before the pandemic, what your objectives were, which touchpoints were important to you, and what your measure of success [was] for on-ground campaigns…for your audiences, it is like you [have] always been there.” 

Lastly, strategic data or the right metrics is what will keep the campaign team aligned – the brand and the agency to be on the same page. With the wave of creative innovation today, marketers on the client and agency side must not lose sight of best-serving metrics that will assure precedents to enable the repetition of success, and foolproof action plans from rewriting mistakes.

On UID’s side, Eng says that its strength comes from the team’s marketing background; that as former marketers, they know which metrics will best serve as compass for directing efforts into the most befitting strategies and channels.

“We filter off what is coined ‘white noise’ and keep the data that matters,” said Eng. 

He adds, “Again, as former marketers ourselves, we know the type of metric that you need for improving customer retention, we know the type of metric in driving your sales.”

The future of AR

AR has started to penetrate the general consumer’s lifestyle and campaigns have been evolved to commercialized and friendly formats to make AR inclusive – not just for those that have hi-tech devices to experience and not only for the tech-savvy to appreciate. So if AR is the present, what more can we expect for the development of this area in immersive tech?

Eng says that the amount of research & development had been immense in the past year, and immersive tech definitely hasn’t seen the best it’s yet to offer.

Tech and social media behemoths Apple and Facebook are determined to lead the way in immersive tech by announcing futuristic new features and products with premature news surrounding Apple’s launch of a headset and glasses with AR and VR capabilities and of course Facebook’s investment in the metaverse. 

Not getting too ahead of ourselves, Eng said that a much proximate innovative feature that’s as exciting to both brands and consumers is that AR is no longer restricted by app-based experiences. 

“The beauty of web AR is you don’t need to download an app for ease for accessibility,” said Eng. 

When face-to-face interactions were phased out in the pandemic, brands had to cruise through with the biggest question of all: How can we show our products to consumers? 

“Brands no longer [have] consumers going to them, [in your] brick-and-mortar stores and retail shops,” said Eng. 

“Augmented reality provided a way for consumers to experience a product and to still be educated, and to have a sort of [an] experience with a brand,” Eng adds. 

Now, with just a simple scan of a QR code, and by being connected to holy grail social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, consumers can be transported to different realities, be entertained with games, and even go as far as experiencing AR-activated concerts without lifting a finger. 

“Brands should start incorporating AR technology into their everyday business simply because they are now easily accessible, engaging for consumers, and most importantly, drive sales,” said Eng.

Brands who want to reach out to Unicom Interactive Digital may visit their website at uid.asia and may contact the agency at [email protected].

Listen to the full conversation between MARKETECH APAC’s Regional Editor Shaina Teope and UID’s Chief Operating Officer Jareth Eng on Spotify: