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Out with the Old, In with the New: Google’s 2019 guide for APAC Marketers

At the beginning of every year, people around the world resolve to shed their bad habits and make space for better ones to take root. Yet, by February, approximately 80 per cent revert to old behaviors . This year, I am determined to be part of the rarified 20 per cent who make good on their resolutions. For me, that means eating better, spending more time with the family (and travelling less!), and finding new ways to engage and delight customers. If you are like me, you will need all the help you can get. While I might not be able to change your diet, replacing this short list of old marketing habits in 2019 will help you make progress on your professional resolutions:

Out: Mobile on the Margin / In: Mobile Front and Center
At the end of last year, APAC led the world in mobile internet traffic with over 60 per cent of web page views occurring on mobile devices. In Southeast Asia, this percentage balloons to a staggering 90 per cent. More affordable devices and reliable data coverage have transformed the smartphone into the primary gateway to the Internet. The ubiquity of mobile means that marketers need to invest in superior mobile experiences now. Studies have shown that poor experiences can have anxiety-inducing effects and brands that do not optimise for mobile will get left behind. Brands can diagnose their mobile experiences by assessing these five principles:

1. Findability: How quickly and effectively can people find information on your site?
2. Product pages: How clearly are you presenting your products? How prominent is your call-to-action?
3. Registration & conversion: Is the conversion process simple and safe to complete?
4. Mobile design: Are site pages designed for mobile users in mind?
5. Speed: Are site load times disrupting the overall experience?

Out: Demographics-Based Marketing / In: Intent-Based Marketing
People now are in research mode 24/7. The immediacy of mobile has transformed the marketing funnel from a linear path (awareness to consideration to purchase) into a dynamic network of unpredictable moments. We are always on the lookout for relevant information to help us make all sorts of decisions–big and small. In the past two years, mobile searches like “what should I do today?” grew by +70 per cent in Singapore while queries for “near me” in India grew by +150 per cent . Even searches the “best” everyday items like umbrellas or toothbrushes shot up by +34 per cent in the Philippines!

Each time someone turns to search for answers, they are creating “intent signals”. These signals offer marketers valuable insight into where a customer is on their research journey. Intent signals paint a richer picture of a potential customer’s needs by going beyond demographic markers like age group, gender, or location.

With intent-based marketing, brands can remedy inaccurate, demographics-based stereotypes and embrace individual identities. Search queries are a good place to start activating intent signals because a query’s phrasing can reveal a lot about a user’s intent. For example, a question like “What should I eat for dinner?” indicates that the user is probably still in the research phase, whereas one like “Where can I buy a bento box?” shows that the user is close to conversion. Read more about how to take advantage of intent signals here .

Out: Customising for Online Video / In: Recycling Video Online
A combination of affordable devices, low data costs, and relevant content is fueling online video consumption. In India, for example, 65 per cent of the 67 million new mobile internet users added in 2017 were Indic language speakers from rural parts of the country. This segment is growing 3X faster than its English-speaking counterpart. In response, we have seen an uptick in original content catering to this new online generation. With accessibility barriers removed and more available content options, it is no surprise that video is the primary driver for internet growth–not just in India, but globally. In 2018, video accounted for 60 per cent of all mobile traffic globally and will reach 74 per cent by 2024.

Creating content to feed this growing appetite for online video can be a difficult task. For many brands, the simplest solution is to put existing ads online. However, this is a missed opportunity to customize for the context. Online video platforms play host to a unique set of behaviors that are distinctly different from any other channel. Just as you would not tackle an out-of-home placement with the same strategy as a placement in a niche industry magazine, traditional and online video content require specialized approaches.

People go to YouTube for entertainment, but also to window shop, do research, and get instructions. Like Search, people are leaving behind intent signals when they watch videos. Rather than trying to retrofit a creative made for a different platform, marketers that adopt an online-video-first approach will reap the benefits of offering personalised, relevant content. There are a myriad of easy-to-use tools to help brands get online video content personalised and published at scale. From enabling mass-customization through Director Mix to driving conversions with clear call-to-action messages via formats like TrueView for Action, online video offers brands a way to create insightful content that engages more deeply with people.

I hope this list is a helpful thought starter for you to accomplish your goals in 2019. Good luck with all of your new year’s resolutions–personal and professional!

Simon Kahn

Simon Kahn is Google’s CMO of Asia Pacific. He is responsible for marketing strategy, development, and execution for Google’s consumer-facing and B2B products and solutions in Asia Pacific. Previously, Simon worked at American Express for thirteen years including serving as Country Manager for Singapore from 2008 to 2011.