Adknowledge Asia aims to rule the social media and video advertising roost
By Benjamin Cher August 16, 2016
- Believes well-positioned to tackle online video and social media shift
- Aiming to grow 40% QoQ, has aggressive customer metrics targets
ADVERTISERS have started pouring money into social media and video-sharing platforms like YouTube – which plays right into Adknowledge Asia’s wheelhouse, according to its chief executive officer Matt Sutton (pic above).
“Everything we do at Adknowledge Asia is focused on providing advertisers with the right tools and expertise to shift offline dollars to online, and in particular to enabling advertisers to successfully reach consumers now watching video online instead of television,” he says.
“There are now more people on Facebook than there are watching television at any time of the day in Asia, and advertisers need the right support in place to meet the demands of these changing media consumption habits,” he adds, speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore recently.
But advertisers in Asia also face the challenge of having to address a very fragmented and diverse region.
“Every market is fundamentally different – they speak different languages, follow a multitude of religions, have very different economic landscapes, and have different brand affinities and buying processes … the list goes on,” says Sutton.
There are some common threads, such as the rising adoption of smartphones, increased access to broadband connectivity, and general economic growth.
All these have led to consumers spending more time online.
“All advertisers are grappling with how to adjust their digital marketing budgets to adapt to this brave new world,” says Sutton.
According to Sutton, some key trends Adknowledge Asia has observed in the first half of this year are:
- Advertisers are focusing on getting better content for their online video ads;
- They have begun to better segment their customers; and
- Are putting a better focus on customer revenue and lifetime customer value rather than worrying about the cost of acquisition.
Hitting that 10%
With these trends lining up, Adknowledge Asia – a joint venture between US-based Adknowledge Inc and Axiata Digital Advertising, a subsidiary of Axiata Group Bhd – is looking to capture 10% of the social media and video advertising market in Asia.
And the company is doubling its headcount in the next 12-18 months to do just that. It already has about 140 people after 24 months in existence – with Sutton keen to stress that its closest competitors have 20-30 people after several years in operations.
The company wants to beef up the number of consultants, as well as its engineering team to support specific advertiser’s needs, and to develop data products that would allow more granular targeting.
“We also plan to take our technology, people and data model to three or four new markets,” he says.
“Our goal in all markets is a simple one: 10% market share of all social plus YouTube spend.
“We believe that by 2020, all advertisers will spend the majority of their budget online, and that for most advertisers, over 50% of that will be through social and video.
“That means for most advertisers, around 25% of their total advertising expenditure could be potentially serviced by Adknowledge Asia,” he adds.
Sutton, who took on the CEO role in March, has set lofty growth targets: 40% quarter-on-quarter for its current markets.
“We have some internal customer growth metrics we use to plan the business quarterly: 80% of all customers must be retained and 50% must at least double their investment; and we must grow the absolute number of customers by 50%,” he says.
“This allows for some healthy attrition and focuses the team on scaling successful customers as well as bringing on board new ones,” he adds.
D&D: Differentiation and difficulties
Sutton is confident of meeting these targets because of the weapons Adknowledge Asia has in its arsenal: One key one being its Axiata legacy, which gives it access to a rich vein of telco customer data.
But the company’s main value proposition is that it manages multiple campaigns under one platform and provides cross-publisher insights, he claims.
“We have built and will continue to rapidly grow the key support functions in-market, such as account management, ad operations and tech support to allow customers to scale their investment into digital,” he says.
Then there is its focus on social media and video. While TV advertising still dominates overall advertising expenditure (adex), Sutton believes that online video ads can make a bigger impact.
“Video ads are becoming more of the norm and can make a bigger impact on engagement, brand recall, and awareness,” he argues.
Also, its engineering team is building features specifically for Asia, where a one-size-fits-all outlook would be no solution at all. This is where Adknowledge Asia’s localisation strategy comes in.
“There are other great tech platforms out there, but many of them don’t provide a lot of local consultancy,” says Sutton.
“And there are organisations with larger headcounts, but they don’t necessarily offer specialisation in our space, or specialised technology solutions – our key differentiation comes from being strong in each of these key areas,” he declares.
But there are challenges ahead, with one of them being – interestingly enough – the increasing amounts of money being poured into online advertising.
“Most advertisers are trying to grow their online spend very aggressively, so getting the right level of resource in place to provide the consultancy and go through the learning process is demanding,” says Sutton.
“For example, recent research has already revealed that Malaysians watch more YouTube than TV, so advertisers now need to quickly get the right pieces in place to move their ad spend there, whether that’s content strategy, creative, planning metrics, reporting, tracking, etc.
“It’s both a big challenge and opportunity in terms of shifting marketing dollars across to the digital side,” he adds.
Asia also needs more digital experts to push the market forward.
“We think that the digital ad spend should be able to rise to over 50% by 2020, but we need to actively train up digital expertise in Asia,” says Sutton.
“Marketers need to consider the whole mix to understand what the right message is, within the right environment and in the right time.
“Professionals need to make sense of data and look beyond simply lowering CPI (cost per impression) to create truly meaningful engagements to get results,” he adds.
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