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3 hottest trends of 2019

Asia has been a hotbed of digital marketing growth in recent years, and all the projections suggest that it is going to continue to soar.

According to Statista, the digital advertising market in Asia Pacific will hit US$94.9 billion this year – more than double the 2015 figure of $43.0 billion  –  as brands increasingly push their marketing dollars to where consumers are most engaged: namely online and on mobile.

That is why as 2019 gets into full swing, we have pulled together the top need-to-know trends across programmatic, mobile and e-commerce, to help marketers stay up to speed with a rapidly evolving digital advertising sector that seemingly never sleeps.

1)      Programmatic predictions: Premiumisation, new platforms and transparency the watchwords

Brands in Asia will be investing US$452 million into programmatic buys in the region this year alone, up from $106 million in 2015.

And it’s just not just the rocketing revenue that is changing in the sector, there are three fundamental factors that will increasingly dominate across the next 12 months.

The first is premiumisation. A major differentiator for today’s best platforms is access to exclusive and premium inventory, especially via easy-to-access and custom buying deals, such as programmatic guaranteed.

According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the penetration of programmatic guaranteed in digital display and video ad activity across APAC will increase from 6 per cent in 2017 to 11 per cent in 2020.

The BCG research also found programmatic advertising to be 30 per cent more efficient for advertiser and agency-buying teams.

By aligning ease of use with premium and guaranteed placements, these numbers will continue to improve.

That is why at Verizon Media we focus on combining providing premium content and exclusive ad placement across our own inventory, and also forging partnerships with other premium providers.

Alongside premiumisation, expect transparency to also continue to be a priority in 2019, as responsible providers double-down on their efforts to meet brands’ needs.

Last year we began to see the benefits delivered by the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) ads.txt project – a simple, flexible and secure method that publishers and distributors can use to publicly declare the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory in order to slash the risk of fraud and boost brand confidence.

But there’s still more that can be done. We have been implementing supply path optimization (SPO) to shorten the path from buyer to seller. This has helped further to weed out lower-quality and duplicate inventory, thereby reducing fraud and enhancing transparency.

Last but not least, we will see programmatic expand to new platforms this year.

With today’s consumers always on the go, advertisers need access to supply across every emerging channel.

That’s why platforms need to make it easier and more effective to buy inventory across connected TV, programmatic audio, digital out-of-home and in-app opportunities.

2)     Mobile: Effective partnerships pivotal to maximise new opportunities

Asian consumers have an insatiable appetite for mobile – with many people in emerging markets leapfrogging straight to smartphones as their preferred device for getting online.

According to Hootsuite, the share of mobile web traffic in Laos is at 90 per cent, far eclipsing web browsing done through laptops, desktops, tablets, and other devices. In Myanmar that figure is 72 per cent, and in Cambodia it is 42 per cent. In other parts of Southeast Asia the smartphone is also commonly the preferred device for accessing the internet with 68 per cent of users accessing the internet most often on a smartphone in Vietnam.

All of these compare favourably against more mature markets. For example, in Singapore 41 per cent of people prefer to use their smartphone to access the internet, while in Philippines it is 52 per cent, and in Malaysia it is 60 per cent. In Indonesia and Thailand, the number of users preferring to access the Internet via smartphones is similar to the ones seen in emerging markets with the figures at 81 per cent and 74 per cent respectively.

Overall, data from e-Marketer shows that by 2021, technological improvements and device affordability will lead to 62.4 per cent of the region’s population owning an internet-enabled device

That’s 1.81 billion people – or 23 per cent of the total global population.

As access to devices and connectivity improvements increase, so will the opportunities for marketers. One of these will be the growth of virtual and augmented reality – arguably among the most immersive and engaging formats ever created to empower brand storytelling.

With the eventual advent of faster data transfer speeds that 5G networks will unlock, the next generation of devices will be faster and more capable of creating exciting new ways to engage with consumers. It is therefore vital that brands find the right partners to utilise these advancements and meet new and long-time mobile users’ demands for new experiences.

3)      E- and m-commerce growth: Maximising digital marketing on the path to purchase

 APAC’s e-commerce growth will hit 14.2 per cent in 2019, according to Fitch Solutions, meaning it is crucial for brands to harness the latest digital marketing trends to create a credible, trustworthy and effective path to purchase.

 And these opportunities are being further reinforced by the proliferation of smartphone use, referenced above.

 Research from Flurry, Verizon Media’s mobile developer analytics platform, assessed 14,500 apps and 217 million devices across the region in 2018, and found that m-commerce sites saw the biggest spike (240 per cent) as consumers increasingly splashed their cash via their smartphones.

 But an m-commerce site alone will not guarantee success. Instead, brands have to deploy the latest creative solutions to win the battle for consumers’ attention, hearts and minds.

 One way to achieve success is by maximising the wow factor and utility of augmented reality (AR).

 Last year, for example, we developed an AR mobile ad unit available through our native marketplace to tap into these very trends.

 This was used by Pottery Barn to help create a seamless path from inspiration to purchase, allowing users to view a variety of home furnishings within their actual home environment.

 The experience resulted in an average time spent of 2.4 minutes within the ad, as well as an 8.9 per cent click through rate.

The campaign also created a seamless path to purchase, recording an impressive 8.9 per cent CTR from the AR experience to the products on the brand’s mobile shopping site.

Asia’s impressive e-commerce growth will continue to be driven by rising internet penetration, widespread smartphone adoption, a fast-growing middle-class, and the increased availability of convenient payment solutions.

But don’t fall into the trap of believing that increasing purchases is the only benefit of using new digital marketing strategies.

By incorporating the latest AR and VR technologies, brands can also benefit from a wealth of consumer insights and metrics based on user responses and reactions within the campaign.

While some of these are still being fine-tuned, there is no doubt that these Extended Reality (XR) formats – the likes of AR, VR and MR (Mixed Reality) – will bring a new set of engagement metrics to enhance our understanding of the user’s experience.

So, whether is the pace of change in programmatic, the sweeping creative possibilities across mobile, or the ever-expanding opportunities via e- and m-commerce, there is no doubt that 2019 is going to be another action-packed year for APAC’s smartest brand marketers.

Rico Chan

Rico Chan is the Managing Director at Verizon Media Hong Kong, Japan and INSEA.