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Fox’s Mike Rich on advertising in a multi-screen era

Gone are the days when television ruled the media budgets, as Magna’s forecasts highlight that digital ad spends are expected to surpass TV in Asia Pacific this year. With the ever-changing consumer behaviours and fast-evolving marketing technology, marketers and advertisers are always looking for ways to make their communication strategy more effective and relevant. The mediums of communication have increased thanks to digital, but with the increase in mediums, the marketers are often confused on where to put their focus on. Mike Rich, EVP, Sales and Content Partnerships, FOX Networks Group Asia in a tête-à-tête with Digital Market Asia, discusses how the right media mix lies in understanding the multi-screen era.

Mr Rich says that it’s becoming harder and harder to separate ‘digital’ from ‘TV’. “They should really go hand in hand, as the key for advertisers is selectively targeting specific audience segments, in any environment, then letting the brand’s engaging storytelling shine through. Partnerships are key – from digital distribution platforms, to linear TV players – so that advertisers can access the widest breadth of audiences. For example, Facebook video and YouTube are both great platforms to deliver great content, and therefore important partners; they are distribution platforms that allow brands access to audiences,” he opined.

Consolidation & content
For traditional media brands, the digital era has proved quite challenging, as they struggled to stay relevant for both consumers and marketers alike. In October 2017, FOX Networks Group Asia (FNGA) launched FOX Content Labs, that consolidates all its capabilities into a new creative production house that offers brands bespoke solutions and the flexibility to pick and choose genres, channels, and formats.

“Our business has always been about telling the best stories and delivering them to the right audiences. We’ve built a team of experts to ensure we can help brands stay ahead of the game. This team has also fostered fantastic partnerships in APAC to do so. By consolidating these capabilities under FOX Content Labs, we’re giving brands a hassle-free way to create the most compelling integrated advertising campaigns and, in the process, future-proofing our own business,” Mr Rich explained.

However, digital itself comes with its own set of challenges as consumers are bombarded with 10,000 marketing messages in a day. As the use of ad blockers by consumers is on the rise, the old adage that ‘Content is King’ is repeated throughout the marketing circles.

Explaining how Fox addresses this, Mr Rich said, “Consumers today, particularly millennials, are notoriously difficult to reach through traditional advertising. FOX Content Labs addresses this by looking past traditional, skip-able ads, instead giving brands an easier way to engage consumers through the content they already love.”

FOX Content Labs recently leveraged Asia’s Next Top Model as a strategic platform for Maybelline. They created a suite of bespoke content that put the beauty brand at the heart of Asia’ favorite modelling competition – from short-form video production and online amplification, to active and passive product integration within the series itself, to on-the-ground activations in 14 APAC markets. The digital video series alone reached 11.2 million unique people on Facebook and totalled 6.61 million minutes of watch time on YouTube.

APAC is an important market for the media company and Mr Rich highlights that Fox is aiming to help advertisers drive a collective one trillion impressions across their key markets every year. “We strongly believe that there is still lots of room for growth in APAC and are investing accordingly. Our goal is to be the number one partner of choice for brands in Asia and the Middle East looking to create premium quality, integrated content solutions. We’re aiming to help advertisers drive a collective one trillion impressions across our key markets every year. Our growth strategy revolves around three key pillars – content, consumers and collaboration. FOX Content Labs consolidates our brand-funded production capabilities so that we can work together with brands and create the most creative and compelling content. Then, by consolidating brands’ access to our expansive owned media infrastructure, we can help advertisers reach more consumers, wherever they are – from digital to linear to on-the-ground. Finally, FOX Content Labs is built on collaboration, and will enable us to work even more closely with our partners.”

Taking the ‘over-the-top’ approach
Global OTT players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have been in the APAC market for two years now and changed the way TV content is being consumed in the region. To stay on top of such competition, Fox has launched its own OTT service Fox+ in Asia, which gives viewers access to Hollywood and Chinese blockbusters, beloved series from East and West, and first-run content that premieres at the same time as linear channels.

“Our heritage in linear, combined with our in-depth expertise in OTT, means that FOX is uniquely positioned to help advertisers get the most from integrated campaigns that take a multi-channel approach. FOX Content Labs can uniquely deliver branded content to consumers wherever they are, and however they are interacting with media. Today, the ubiquity of digital platforms and social media means that our 360-degree advertising strategies naturally include content that’s specifically designed to reach those social and OTT users – from very short-form videos that appeal to digital users’ waning attention spans; to digital video series that put brands at the heart of a broadcast narrative and extend it online,” he explained.

Consumers are no longer just watching content on TV in a linear manner, rather the availability of content on demand and across different platforms has also disrupted the advertising industry. Mr Rich underlines the need for a multi-screen approach to campaigns and says, “We’re aware that while OTT is changing the dynamics of entertainment, viewers in Asia are taking an “and/and” attitude – watching online video on top of TV. Today, an integrated, cross-device approach is a must. This is particularly true in Asia, where people are leading the way into the multi-screen era. Consumers are watching TV on their phone, making phone calls from their laptop and checking email on their TV. People in APAC have a world of content at their fingertips, at all times, and marketers that don’t take an integrated approach will lose out on a key competitive edge.”

However, integrated advertising does not start and end with digital, Mr Rich believes. “It can also comprise active and passive product integration that puts the brand at the heart of already-loved films and TV; celebrity talent access; on-the-ground activations; and lots more. The key is working with a partner that understands consumers’ most relevant touchpoints in any given market, and can create and amplify content that responds to what they want to watch, how they want to watch it,” he added.

Mike Rich’s 3 Trends To Watch Out For In 2018
Firstly, we’ll see is the move away from a myopic focus on digital advertising. Some of the world’s biggest brands are slashing their digital advertising budgets, due to brand safety risks and rising uncertainty around digital ad metrics. I think this year we can expect brands to look beyond a narrow digital strategy and instead focus on integrated, multi-channel approaches based around creating a wide range of engaging content and sharing it far and wide.
Secondly, with ad blocking on the rise, I think we’ll see a bigger focus on the role of storytelling within advertising. Stories are the only thing capable of creating real engagement with consumers, and today, the possibilities for branded storytelling are limitless. From product sponsorships in major TV shows and films to branded online video series, businesses now have the unique opportunity to weave their brand into entertaining content that naturally grabs consumers’ attention – and can’t be blocked with a browser extension.
Finally, I expect brands to put more emphasis on micro-targeting particular audience segments. The consumer landscape is now more fractured than ever before and, in response, advertising strategies will need to focus on finding, assembling and communicating with specific people, rather than simply paying for specific ads. Again, this approach will require an integrated strategy, because ‘target audiences’ are actually complex groups of complex individuals. They live multifaceted lives, and in order to engage them, brands need a variety of activities across different environments.

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.