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Isobar evolving ‘irresistible ideas’

Jean Lin, Isobar APAC

The mission is to create always on communication to optimise on a brand’s continuous activity that a consumer can connect with during any time of the day, week or month throughout the year. That is what global creative and communication agency Isobar works towards continuously. Today Isobar is home to 3000 experts in digital in 34 markets across the world.

In  China it is known as wwwins Isobar – a merged entity of wwwins and Isobar. wwwins was founded in 1999 by Jean Lin in China to offer digital solutions and services to advertisers in the country. In 2004, when Aegis Group owned, complete digital services company, Isobar was looking to enter the APAC region; it acquired wwwins to create wwwins the full service digital marketing network in the region. Jean Lin was appointed as the CEO Isobar Asia Pacific, and global chief strategy officer.

Today the Isobar Asia Pacific boasts of 16 offices in the region manned by 700 people. It proudly claims that throughout 2011, it has won more than 70 new accounts across the region with a turnover growth rate of more than 30 percent.

DMA got Isobar’s regional CEO Lin to talk about the agency, its plans, offerings and growth in the market going ahead:

A brief on Isobar: its genesis, and its presence in the Asia Pacific market

Isobar is a global communications agency with digital at its heart. We are a truly modern communications network that is idea-led, technologically-advanced, and media enabled. We believe in open, honest collaboration between individuals, companies, customers and brands, in working side-by-side with our clients in partnership, undertaking new adventures and digital journeys together. We are the global home for over 3000 of the world’s finest digital pioneers. Our aim is to bring people and brands together like never before, delivering enduring brand relationships and positive business performance. Isobar has 16 offices across 11 markets in Asia-Pacific, with a total of more than 700 staff.  Throughout 2011, the agency won more than 70 new accounts across the region with a turnover growth rate of more than 30 per cent. Some of these new business wins include Kellogg’s across the region, P&G, Sony Electronics, Cerebos, City of Dreams, Sony Ericsson, J&J and Korea Telecom.

Key service offerings in digital

In our global network of 54 offices in 34 markets, Isobar services include Creative, Planning, Technology, and measurement. Creative is a service which is advertising, design, content creation, and studio production. We connect through open ‘irresistible ideas’, which combine compelling content, experience design and advertising. In Planning service we offer brand innovation and insight consultancy, audience planning, digital media planning/implementation, and  propagation. We ‘create time’ for ideas to propagate through insightful audience planning, brand planning and channel strategies. In Technolcogy we have solutions like integrated platform and service design, technology strategy, user experience, technical development. We enable on-demand interaction, through technology, strategy and integrated platform and service design. Finally under Measurement we offer services like data, listening & monitoring, tracking & reporting, analytics, continuous activation strategy.  We deliver valuable, transparent, enduring brand relationships and business performance, proven through effective measurement, analytics and results.

Top campaigns in the region

Not all brands embrace social media, and some don’t even realize the long-term value beyond what we see on the surface. As the industry leader, 7-Eleven is highly value its customers and putting a lot of effort in building brand reputation and creating brand loyalty in the age social media.  Isobar Taiwan successfully tapped into Facebook for 7-Eleven’s marketing campaigns. 7-Eleven’s Facebook fan page was launched in October 2009, and to date, it has became the largest fan group in Taiwan with over 1.7 million fans, capturing 17% of Taiwan Facebook users. In Taiwan you can see various convenient stores in every corner, every city.  In this highly competitive retail sector, 7-Eleven is the leading brand with 4,800 stores in an island with over 24 million people.  Loyalty and frequency have been key factors leading to the success of 7-Eleven. Apart from the first ever AR Outdoor Facebook campaign that we brought to 7-Eleven in Taiwan in late 2010, our team has constantly developed new innovative Facebook apps to engage its fan with 7-Eleven brand. With more than 1 million impressions per day, its Facebook wall has become the most effective media channel for 7- Eleven. The new marketing model – “Fan Group+ APP+ iBon (POS touch screen at 7-Eleven convenience stores)” – has also tremendously increased sales and provided the best ROI.

Trends in digital marketing space over the last five years

Technology has changed every aspect of marketing and communications, content is accessible anywhere, and people are in control – everything today is to some degree digital, social and mobile.

Social In – Social isn’t just a channel, it’s baked into everything we do.  Whilst ‘big ideas’ made sense in a broadcast world, when media was scarce and controlled, in today’s fragmented and increasingly social world only ‘irresistible ideas’ will do.  Irresistible ideas demand a response, they invite a next step, and hopefully take on a life of their own, becoming self-financing and self-perpetuating, they are more likely to get picked up and passed on, and they make it inevitable that fans will choose to get involved.

Mobile Up – Mobile will dominate how we access the internet. We consider how to deliver work so that it works from the mobile device upwards. By taking that approach we guarantee that the work we do can really spread across any channel.

Always On – It is a shift from an era of campaigns to always-on communication.  We believe that the days of 360 degree integration, with their campaigns of ‘matching luggage’ are behind us; whilst it’s not enough that every part of every campaign just looks the same. A clear look and feel is often important, but it’s no substitute for an original view of the world.  Instead we need to increasingly think of how we can optimise a brands continuous activity that allows the customer to engage at a time of their choosing over 365 days.

Best location for business

China will continue to be a key driver for our growth in this region because it is the world’s fastest growing digital economy. Innovation in the digital space in China allows new ideas to prosper.      Indonesia will be the upcoming source for our growth with its largely untapped digital users and consumer activeness with social and mobile device.

 Challenges in the market

Talent pool is the key challenge across the board for digital marketing: people that have digital skills as well as brand building strategic capabilities are hard to find and it takes time to train them up. This will be a key factor in deciding the speed and level of innovation in the digital marketing space. Consumers are ready, the industry just needs a bit of time.

For social media marketing the key challenge is to facilitate clients with a better understanding of social marketing as a whole, and not just focus on a certain areas as silos outside of marketing in general. Social is not just about managing a Facebook fan page, or designing influencer programmes. Social cuts across Bought, Owned, and Earned Media, and is the key factor influencing the future of creating branded content and how it is distributed, propagated, and measured.

Expectations from the market

In China, consumers embrace eCommerce very fast and linking marketing communications with transaction will be a key opportunity for brands living in the digital world. Digital experiential and retail CRM will enhance the shopping experience and convert consumers at the last mile. These are also key opportunities for brands to experiment and improve their connection with consumers.

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