Knowing Me, Knowing You
“What advertiser would turn down more interactivity with their consumer?” ponders Omnicom Media Group’s regional CEO Barry Cupples. “If the answer is ‘we don’t want more interactivity’, we have a problem.”
Cupples has been looking at how smartphones can be used to turn conventional TV, print and outdoor outlets into two-way channels between brands and consumers – a move that could have far-reaching implications for Omnicom’s media agencies and their clients.
This concept has been made possible by new software that allows consumers to move from ads placed in traditional media to a brand’s presence online, using special shortcodes devised for internet-capable mobile phones. The platform, developed by Hong Kong-based mobile technology firm TheTMSway, also collects a range of real-time data while opening a window for marketers to gather more information, through direct channels of communication.
“We propose to make traditional media interactive,” says TheTMSway co-founder, Frederick Saurat. “You can talk one-to-one with consumers through traditional ads and at the same time get a lot of metrics and data.” The service is being offered to media owners too, to better understand their audiences as well.
The recently launched product represents one way for advertisers to get closer to consumers, but it’s also a response to one of the most pressing problems facing multinational brands in Asia: how to get a better picture of what drives marketing success in a region where some of the key measures they use – data from audience measurement and consumer purchase panels – are generally in short supply.
“Do you want interactivity with your consumers?” Cupples asks of his clients. “If the answer is no, that means no data, no analytics, no insight, no direct response capabilities, no real understanding of the influencers of consumer choice.”
The knowledge gap
Media research has to keep pace with consumer behavior to remain relevant, but while media fragmentation and new digital platforms are posing challenges to research globally, resources are especially squeezed in Asia, as domestic companies tend to value marketing less highly than their international counterparts.
Not only is there less money in the system, but the amount invested as a proportion of adspend is less too. That gap can be as much as three to four times less between developed and emerging markets, notes Steve Garton, global head of media for research specialist Synovate.
“It’s nice in a way that market research spend as a ratio of marketing or advertising spend is higher in developing markets,” Garton muses. “It shows that research works.”
That gap is starting to narrow, as domestic brands losing share to international challengers look to shore up their marketing, though the trend is a gradual one. With money for media research still relatively thin on the ground, Synovate is focusing its attention on two areas: adding more questions about engagement into existing syndicated surveys such as Media Atlas and Pax, to give marketers and media owners more insight into consumer relationships; and closer partnerships with media agencies, to add value to the agencies’ internal studies of how people relate to brands and media.
New storehouses of insight
In what has been perhaps the most significant response to the shortage of third-party data in Asia, media agencies have been ramping up their own research and analytics capabilities, collating diverse sources of research as well as increasingly commissioning their own.
“That has emerged in recent years as a major shift,” Garton says. “Media specialists are under pressure from their clients to have better ROI, which in a digital world is more important than ever.”
If knowledge is power, this investment is putting agencies, as well as the clients they work for, in an increasingly strong negotiating position with media owners. For brands, agencies and media owners however, it looks like it will be the relationship with the consumer that demands everyone’s attention.
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