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“Reposition social ads from a goal to a tool”

Bruno Fiorentini Junior, Microsoft Advertising

Bruno Fiorentini Junior, General Manager, Microsoft Advertising & Online APAC talks to Digital Market Asia on what will make social media work for brands, and how they can overcome challenges to be more effective in their online campaigns. Excerpts…

We know that social media has changed how brands communicate with their consumers, but what changes do you expect the brands to make further in this ever changing scenario in social media?

Given that there are about 1.2 billion people around the world who use social networking sites and almost half (about 493.5 million) of the social network users come from the Asia Pacific region, social media is definitely set to grow. A recent study conducted by Microsoft Advertising shows that nearly half of heavy social media advertisers recently surveyed by Microsoft Advertising in Singapore say they expect their spending will rise in the next 12 months. The study also proves that is it is critical for brands to understand how to use social media platforms to engage with their target audiences. This means that ‘presence’ is not enough and marketers should implement well-planned digital strategies that integrate both paid and owned media to create greater awareness and drive consumer engagement with their brand. Our vision for social advertising is to go beyond the ‘Like’ and reposition social ads from a goal to a tool brands can use to better reach and impact their target audience.

There is lot of noise about Pinterest, what is your take on that? How important is it for marketers to take note of this social media channel?

We’re just beginning to unlock the potential of social advertising and we still have a lot to learn as an industry. We believe social advertising will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the consumer. Pinterest is captivating audiences and is a great new tool to reach specific segments. However, we believe it is important for brands to first identify their target audiences and think of the story that will best engage with them at the right place and at the right time.

Challenges for online advertisers and digital marketers today? How can they find a way out of the challenges?

Audience fragmentation and online noise are making consumers hard to reach. We believe the best way to reach consumers is through stories – emotional, engaging, immersive, surprising, and above all, entertaining stories. As marketers, we need to create new ways to tell stories, ways as modern as the world we live in. Our mission is to transform and simplify the business of digital advertising, so that our clients and partners can amplify their brand stories across screens and at scale. Specifically, one of the biggest pain points we’re hearing from advertisers regarding social advertising is the inability to be creative and make an emotional connection with consumers. Our rich media solutions, like People Powered Stories, enable brands to deliver more meaningful and believable advertisements to consumers and, in return, drive greater impact for advertisers in a targeted and measurable way.

What is the current status of digital advertising and social media marketing in SEA? What is unique about this region versus say Europe or US?

In Asia alone, we saw a 706.9 per cent growth in internet users between 2000 and 2011, higher than the growth in Europe (376.4 per cent) or North America (152.6 per cent). However, digital and social media marketing are more widely accepted, and thus more mature, in the US and European markets. That said, we see huge potential in the industry in Asia and believe that digital ad spend in the region will continue to rise in tandem with the growing online penetration. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia leads the region with the highest number of internet users and social network users.  With the internet and social media increasingly becoming a mainstream activity throughout the region, more and more brands are using the digital sphere to engage with their consumers.

What is the potential of this market, and how can global brands make their brand communication stronger in this market?

Brands should understand that different markets react differently; what works in one market may not work in others. Marketers need to build and improve their communication channels with target audiences. And to do this, they will need to engage with them across multiple platforms including paid advertising. With a strategy that combines both paid and owned media, it can help them to interact with their existing consumers and attract new consumers as well.