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Innovation shifts address to the East: Cheuk Chiang, Omnicom Media Group

For the past decade, the West has contributed many innovative business models that have changed the way people live. Amazon in 1994 changed the way consumers traded. In 1998, Google redefined searching for information. The iPod in 2001, Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and the iPad in 2010 – each milestone impacted consumption of music, socialising and connecting, consuming content and transforming the very way people interacted with devices. But the time for Asia is now.

Asia in fact has a rich history of leading innovation. Drawing examples as back as the Han Dynasty, where the first form of paper appeared, Omnicom Media Group’s APAC CEO Cheuk Chiang observed that innovations from Asia changed the world. And as the pace of this change increases manifold, becoming even more intense, the next three decades will once again see Asia come at the forefront of leading change.

Addressing delegates at the Festival of Media Asia, being held in Singapore, Mr Chiang urged to change the focus and imagine innovation rising from the East. He cited the example of China to reiterate the innovations coming out of Asia, and how they are affecting the highest reach channels including television, mobile and internet.

TV is dead; Long live TV
At present TV has a reach of nearly 85 per cent. However, the rise of high speed broadband, and this being used to change the input mechanism of television has enabled consumers to get content of their choice in the most preferred way. While it is the UAE that is leading the way on this, markets in Asia like Korea, Japan and Taiwan amongst others are seeing the advantages of access to data and rich content.

Add to this, new ways of personalising the once idiot box. Samsung, LG are only some of the brands that are introducing facial recognition technology, 8K TVs that take high definition up a great notch and other such innovations that render obsolete the concept of ‘50 per cent of ad messaging is wasted’.

“Viewers will get personalised content because the TV recognises the individual’s face, making the medium highly relevant and powerful. TV is going through its golden age and the best is yet to come. We say TV is dead because it is seeing only four per cent growth in the region, in comparison to the 40 per cent growth that online video is seeing. But we have to understand that TV is now AV,” explained Mr Chiang.

He also cited the example of Huaweii that is creating 7 inch handsets reminding that in various markets in Asia, it was not unusual for people to consume long form of video formats on the handheld devices. Large, thin screens with great viewing experience become important in that context, and the advent of 4G technology would only grow the proposition further.

The role of utility in the rise of ‘BAT’
Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – the famous BAT trio that are leading the digital transformation in China, soon to be the world’s largest digital advertising market – have all one point in common. For Mr Chiang, this point is the ability to offer utility. Baidu is not just about information and searching but it also provides the necessary ecosystem to book a ticket, or reserve a table. Alibaba is all about offering utility. WeChat from Tencent has 1.1 billion subscribers at present. The next highest in the social messaging space is WhatsApp with 700 million subscribers. However, WeChat is not just messaging but also allows users to access entertainment, potentially date somebody, play games and so on.

“Whatever innovation we produce has to be useful. Utility will ultimately drive growth,” Mr Chiang concluded.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.