Astro COO: It’s about relevance and the value of viewers

  • Astro’s Tan one of the headline attractions at upcoming Malaysian Media Congress
  • Challenges media agencies to evolve and reinvent the way media is recommended

Astro COO: It’s about relevance and the value of viewersTHE upcoming Malaysia Media Congress on July 3 will see Astro chief operating officer Henry Tan (pic) as one of the headline speakers.
 
Now in his fifth year with Astro, Tan will be sharing his thoughts on media specialists needing to be bold and out-of-the-box thinkers. Specifically, he will be talking about ‘Media Specialists Need to Break The Mould for Marketing Breakthroughs!’ and leveraging off his exposure in the media industry from both the client and agency side.
 
The latest Nielsen advertising expenditure (adex) figures paint a bright picture for Astro, with the May adex for pay-TV at RM433 million (US$136 million) versus RM240 million (US$75 million) in the same period in 2012.
 
That’s a massive 80% jump, but with the caveat being the huge uptick in spending last month due to the Malaysia’s general election.
 
Digital News Asia (DNA) got Tan to share a bit about what he will be talking about. In his typical blunt manner, he contends that while viewers love the choices they get and are engaged when they make those choices, many advertisers are still falsely comforted with numbers, wrongly assuming all eyeballs are equal and hence the more the merrier.
 
DNA: In your observations, is the term ‘media specialist’ an oxymoron? With so many media choices, can anyone really be called a specialist?
 
Tan: Personally, I am inclined towards media agency but I am not too fussed about the term. If anything, the practice has to evolve more than the term. What is important is that the role must include knowledge of consumers, trends/ context, content, and the variable media choices.
 
DNA: What in your mind separates a good media specialist from a mediocre one?
 
Tan: Someone who sees everything and anything as a medium. Who does not merely think media-only but sees it as business and marketing. That is a good start.
 
DNA: Just two weeks ago, the chief business officer of Google said that the current shift in advertising to digital is completely disruptive; that the era of mass market advertising to personalisation is happening now. Do you believe so? And, do you believe Astro has the right media properties and tools to ensure you can deliver this personalisation?
 
Tan: The transition has started and we have been saying so for some time. Unfortunately, old habits do die hard!
 
First, to customise or personalise, you need choice. Multi-channel TV offers choice with a wide range of content offering to choose [from]. With a Personal Video Recorder, you can record all your favourite shows and watch [them] at your convenience.  It is your TV schedule, as determined by YOU.
 
Watch it when you want, pause, rewind, stop, start as you wish. Simply put, TV has become personalised. Video On Demand (VOD) and Over The Top (OTT) services such as Astro-On-The-Go provide even greater personalisation of TV and media consumption.
 
DNA: How does your take on customised media fit into this personalisation of advertising?
 
Tan: Astro's advantage is giving viewers the wide choice of content for them to pick and choose and watch in the most convenient way, through any device of their choice, at home or on-the-go; live, catch-up or recorded.
 
Viewers love it but advertisers are not putting enough value to this! Unfortunately, many are still falsely comforted with mass and numbers, wrongly assuming all eyeballs are equal and hence the more the merrier. No real value is given to relevance and personalisation, differentiating between active versus passive viewers, engaged and involved fans who vote with their wallets!
 
DNA: And finally, who will play the role of trusted party to deliver this relevance ratings you will talk about?
 
Tan: Ideally, it should be the media agencies. They own the client relationship and trust. The changing world gives media agencies ample opportunities to shine. They should evolve and reinvent the way media is evaluated and recommended, taking into account time shifted and multi-screen viewing, using multiple metrics including feedback from social media, likeability etc, and shift from mass viewership and ratings to focus on relevance and value of viewers.
 
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