Asian brands innovate – but do Aussies?

Asian brands innovate – but do Aussies?
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Matt Hunt, managing director of Adconion Media Group in Australia, is at the Festival of Media in Singapore. Here, he sums up Day One.  

The 2013 Festival of Media Asia kicked off yesterday in Singapore with ‘Mobility’ as a key theme. Social Mobility has created new markets and mindsets and with 30% of the world’s mobile users living in China and a regional ad market outpacing the world, it seems like a good place to find out how brands in the region are embracing the promise of media mobility.

Integrated mobile advertising strategies are increasingly a given for the clients we speak to; the days of it being a secondary consideration are long gone. But as brands in Australia wrestle with how much of the marketing mix mobile commands (Australia’s Mobile Marketing Association recommends 7%), the first day’s sessions were both thought-provoking in outlining how some Asian brands are innovating with new technology and reassuring in demonstrating how some Australian marketers are ahead of the curve.

Mobile to become the primary media channel for consumer brands

A constant refrain during day one (and in the thought-provoking camp) was that mobile should and will become the primary media channel for consumer brands. Paul Hu, managing director for Volkswagen Group Import China, proclaimed that “mobile is the new cigarette” when describing the addictive tendencies of Chinese smartphone users (presumably without the negative effects!) and the unlimited potential for marketers in the region.

But for anyone who was getting too carried away by the technology, the founder of the festival and CEO of organisers C Squared, Charlie Crowe, made an erudite comment about Google’s Asia-Pacific head (and former Australian MD) Karim Temsamani’s presentation when he noted “Relevancy is being redefined by mobile but I like the idea that people are more important than devices. A person using three devices is still one person, people want their experiences to be seamless and marketers need to focus on moments not mobile.” It is precisely this that excites my team and I back in Australia. Helping clients create the right moment with the right audience on the right device.

Social commerce – untapped potential in Australia?

The possibility and current reality of social commerce in the region were bought into sharp focus for the Australian contingent (and drew a few sharp intakes of breath) by Ken Hong from Weibo whose case study revealed how 666 smart cars were sold in eight hours and 50,000 mobile phones were sold in just five minutes by Weibopay (China’s micro-blogging site’s virtual currency which is similar to Paypal). There is a tremendous opportunity for marketers in the region to move from driving traffic to driving sales. Despite the inevitable limitations of scale in Australia, there is scope for local brands that are willing to innovate with new devices and advertising technologies.

Measurement missing in action

Interestingly for a day with plenty of discussion about mobile consumer behaviour, there was little discussion about measurement or campaign attribution. The broader issue of limited availability of ROI data is perhaps part of the reason that there seemed to be an underlying notion throughout all of the presentations that whilst mobile users are there – connected, impulsive and ready to be ‘sold’ – marketers are not keeping up….yet. It will be interesting to see how attribution models catch up with the speed of technology innovation and incumbent upon agencies and networks to work towards more robust methodologies.

What is clear though is that the growth of digital, social and ecommerce on mobile devices in the region is driving a huge wave of innovation and commercial success for advertisers, agencies, ad technology companies and publishers. And it is not the technology in and of itself, impressive as some of it is. It is the evolving search for the potential it possesses and the immediacy and relevance it can give marketers for both brand and transactional campaigns.

Day Two of the festival promises even more, including Sir Martin Sorrell’s as yet untitled keynote. He rarely disappoints, so watch this space.

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