Top Tips for APAC Digital Marketers – Context & Creativity

This article first appeared in Campaign Asia

07/29 By Laura Quigley

Marketers need to reassess every possible touchpoint to ensure their messages are timely, contextual and relevant. So says Laura Quigley, our SVP of APAC as she discusses her Top Tips for APAC Digital Marketers.

Into the Unknown. Top Tips for APAC Digital Marketers

In the Frozen movie song, when Elsa responds “Into the Unknown,” love how her vocal range escalates each time and hits higher octave notes, while that has nothing to do with the state of digital advertising in APAC, the lyrics do strike a chord with me. We are in the unknown and to say it’s a unique time in the world is an understatement. As we all collectively grapple with what this global pandemic means for us — as humans first, but also as professionals — there are often more questions than answers. There is no playbook for times like these, and what has unfolded in front of us is a strong human resilience, creativity, and the digitisation of the world around us. The marketers are under a lot of pressure to prove ROI and they optimise their media spends to provide actual business outcomes. 

Quigley’s Top Tips for APAC digital marketers will help them navigate these difficult times and get their campaigns to create stronger engagement to drive business outcomes:

  1. Context – It matters more than before

For the foreseeable future, consumer attention is likely to remain shifted toward screens, and advertisers would be wise to meet them there. Even if budgets are tight now, the slow ease of quarantine and global adjustment to a “new normal” means that digital advertising budgets will return, and the connections made with consumers during this challenging time will remain. The best way to reach consumers while navigating the challenges presented by shrinking budgets and tricky, volatile news headlines is to employ a local approach and have a brand suitability strategy that leverages contextual targeting.

To elaborate more on contextual targeting- say, you are reading an article about jaguars in the wild. If the context of the article was understood, you may get an ad from Singapore Zoo or Night Safari . However, if the context of the article was not considered, and the words ”jaguar”, “speed” and “fast” were picked up, you could get an ad for the latest Jaguar car. So, we can see that context matters when it comes to targeted advertising. But what about the consumers receiving the adverts – how do they actually want to be targeted by advertisers? Now is the time for advertisers to take this approach, act locally, and use it to effectively engage with their audience in the right environment and right time, whilst also at the same time plan for a world without third-party cookies and mobile phone identifiers. The local context will be important. 

  1. Consumer and their immersive digital lives

The convenience and accessibility to products online, especially during COVID-19, have not only increased existing online shoppers’ spend but also converted many offline shoppers to online. This trend is unlikely to return to pre-COVID status according to a recent Nielsen Covid-19 consumer survey. Consumers have literally replicated their lives online; from celebrating birthdays to attending events to children talking ballet lessons everything is happening online. Consumers have become significantly more open to digital offerings and experiences – a shift that marketing execs believe will persist even after the pandemic recedes. This suggests digital marketing efforts will command a greater share of total marketing spending moving forward, even if overall marketing budgets shrink 8-10% next year. Marketers need to ensure that they create more local content and experiences for their discerning, time-poor touchless and digital customers, and reach out to them in an engaging, relevant, and timely fashion on the platform of their choice. 

IAS conducted data privacy research in APAC and we found that data privacy remains top of mind for consumers, despite a significant proportion of respondents unaware of current privacy regulations. Consumers are aware of online data collection but still care deeply about their data privacy, so much so that they’re taking action to restrict their data collection online. However, consumers are receptive to ads in the right environment and prefer contextual targeting methods. 

  1. Creatives that are reflective of our current times

Marketers are delivering work that reflects and responds to the spread of the coronavirus despite the challenges of fostering creativity under lockdown, a study by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has found.

Marketers are placing increased scrutiny on creative elements right now. From tone and visual imagery to copy and keywords, the context of the media buys needs to be carefully assessed for every campaign no matter the channel or size of spend behind it. Brands are focusing on products that are most pertinent and useful in an increasingly “virtual world and they are showing empathy. They are reevaluating creatives that show overt promotions,  interactions like handshakes, hugs, and high-fives since social distancing is an important tactic for slowing the spread of illness. Making sure that ad copies are not tone-deaf to the realities of the current world we live in. 

Consumers of today are opinionated, discerning, logged in and time poor and marketers have precious few seconds to make an impact and that happens via interesting, engaging creatives. 

Creatives drive time-in-view which is a proxy for engagement. Creatives front the brand promise, drive relevancy and it’s important that creatives reflect the current world and display empathy for what stakeholders are facing – and demonstrate the brand was/is there to help.

  1. Calibration~ make sure to make sure

As market dynamics change rapidly, marketers must constantly reassess their campaigns and creatives. What they decided a month ago isn’t necessarily appropriate today. Change seems to be the only constant and because of that, marketers must reassess every possible touchpoint for the brand across paid and owned channels, from video ads to the automated emails they’re sending via customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Brands must ask themselves every day, “Is this creative or ad placement right for this moment and in this context?” And when the answer is no, they need to pivot. We at IAS have taken a few concrete steps of our own and there’s more in the works. We’ve rejected the regressive, long-standing industry naming conventions-  “blacklist,” “whitelist,” to “exclusion” and “inclusion” list among others and are in the midst of auditing all our internal, external collaterals, UI, blog posts, website – you name it – to make sure no footprints of this dated naming convention remain. We take pride in being a diverse and inclusive company and the verbiage we use must be reflective of that. 

We certainly don’t have all the answers for navigating these turbulent times. But we’re organising internally to evaluate our efforts through the lens of helping our customers and partners. Thinking through these has been a helpful exercise in itself, I hope it’s helpful as you navigate the coming weeks and months with your own teams.

Looking for more Top Tips for APAC digital marketers? Contact us today. We will make sure you’re not walking into the unknown.