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6 trends defining content marketing

Is traditional media dead? Arguably, there has never been a time in history when there are simply more vehicles to deliver your message and more competing brands who are vying for your attention than ever before. Our markets are just full of noise. This coupled with the growing sophistication of our audiences in terms of what is real and what isn’t, particularly in South East Asia, make it difficult for advertisers today to truly connect, in an authentic way with their potential customers.

Enter content marketing. We have seen an explosion in the past two years of content marketing, as a legitimate practice entering our daily vernacular. It is my personal belief that this growing movement of content marketing is in response to the massive media noise we are seeing in the marketplace. Consumers want to be sold in a way that is truly authentic, led by great content produced by the brand and fellow consumers, and wrapped with a layer of beautiful and at times emotional storytelling. Consumers want to be moved. And content marketing, if done the right way, has the ability to move audiences. And a moving audience is a buying audience.

2014 was an exciting year across the board in terms of media. However, if there was any area that really stood out, it was content marketing. Below, I’ve highlighted 6 key trends that stood out in the world of content marketing within South East Asia.

  1. Brands Putting Consumers at the Drivers Seat of Content: This year saw a lot of brands in SEA starting to give up control of their content to everyday users, artists and even kids. Brands like Lacoste in Singapore who invited 12 digital artists to create short films for the brand, or the travel company Zuji, also in Singapore who commissioned users to come up with dynamic UGC in conjunction with a promotion they were running, or finally Tiger in Manila who engaged 20 artists from the Philippines to produce branded content that got translated into posters, OOH and an animated short. This year also saw brands in a variety of categories heavily engaging with YouTube creators particularly in markets like Indonesia and Malaysia.
  2. Increased Platform Choices Means More Complexity in Content: 2014 also saw changes in the digital platform landscape across SEA. We saw an aggressive push by WeChat as they look to expand beyond their China footprint, also by Japan’s LINE who also had rapid expansion in SEA. We also saw increasing usage by photo-based social app Instagram as it also prioritises SEA as a strategic region of growth for them. Another area of interest this year was Facebook’s declining organic reach which saw massively declining reach from 16 per cent in 2012 to around 2 per cent now. This has created greater complexities for brands as they now have to develop content for each of these platforms as well as figure out a way to be seen within Facebook.
  3. Content Distribution Ramps Up: We also saw a lot of movement on the content distribution side of the business. Outbrain launched in late 2013 and started to really gain traction in 2014 as they worked to solidify their distribution partners and brand engagements this year. Also, companies like Boom Video who focus on video content and partnerships also setup shop in Asia this year to capitalise on the growth in content marketing. And in startup land we saw companies like Kudos, a Singapore-based content marketing startup come on the scene. This clear focus on content distribution is being built off the demand from brands to develop original and unique content and to find relevant homes for this content.
  4. RTM is the new RTB: Real-time-marketing or RTM as some people call it has really taken center stage in the past year or so, probably since the infamous Oreo’s spot during the 2013 Super Bowl. On a recent eMarketer survey, 53 per cent of respondents indicated that they plan to make greater use of real-time-marketing in 2014. One of these companies in SEA is MasterCard in Indonesia where they are launching what they call “The Priceless Engine”. It will see MasterCard leveraging its depth of analytics to help its partners understand consumer sentiment based on social conversations, track engagements and translate these findings into meaningful feedback in order to create and share content in real-time.
  5. Advertising Going Native in a Big Way: Another standout theme in 2014 was native advertising, where brands attempt to create ad units that hopefully feel part of the organic online reading experience. Yahoo in SEA has made a strong push in the area of native advertising, launching a variety of options across desktop, mobile and video. We saw a variety of native examples in South East Asia coming from the likes of Adidas, Renault, DBS and others that showed strong examples of how brands can creatively integrate rich and unique content within an ad experience. However one of the challenges the industry will face moving into 2015 is how to scale native in a programmatic world across different digital platforms.
  6. Big Data Giving Way to Big Content Analytics: A final trend we saw in 2014 was a slight shift away from this movement of big data and a move towards content analytics whereby companies seek visibility into the amount of content that is being created about their brand, the nature of that content and how it is being used. The data we are referring to here is mainly unstructured data that lives in social media. A variety of companies within SEA have started to take content analytics seriously and build teams against it. With a strong content analytics practice, brands will have insight into what content is really powerful and driving business value for them, allowing them to focus on this and reduce cost from producing unvaluable content.

In 2015, content marketing will become even more center-stage and I expect brands in SEA to invest more and adopt innovative content marketing practices.

The write up is part of the DMA Annual Report ‘What’s Trending 2015‘. To book your own hard copy of the Annual, write to marketing@digitalmarket.asia

Andy Radovic

Andy Radovic is the APAC Client Partner at Essence Digital, a GroupM company. He is a strategic digital marketer with 13+ years experience working in the digital media space across a variety of agencies, spanning stints in the U.S., Japan, Korea, and now Singapore. Before Essence, he was working for Maxus Asia Pacific, part of the GroupM network, the world’s largest media investment management organisation, and media communications and planning arm of parent company WPP. At Maxus, Andy led regional digital duties for Asia Pacific with a focus on building out the Maxus digital product offering across Asia Pacific focusing on search, social, mobile, digital analytics and e-commerce.
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