Mobile-powered contextual and personalised ads the way forward
While very socially connected, Malaysians still engage with traditional media
MEDIA fragmentation has often been described as one of the biggest brand challenges of the digital age for marketers, but it is also a great opportunity for brand owners and creative agencies, according to market research firm TNS.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a seminar on the results of TNS’ Connected Life study last week, Joseph Webb (pic), head of digital for TNS Asia Pacific, said fragmentation in the media business is indeed happening as people are now consuming more media in all kinds of forms and channels.
TNS Connected Life is a global study examining digital attitudes and behaviours. London-headquartered TNS, formerly known as Taylor Nelson Sofres and listed on the London Stock Exchange, was bought over by the WPP Group in 2008.
Arguing that fragmentation is happening even within social media, Webb said this phenomenon is inevitable but not necessarily a bad thing.
“Fragmentation within social media is not because there is a new rival to Facebook but because new brands have come along and they are different channels doing different niche things.
“Today you have Vine, Pinterest and Snapchat,” he said. “They are not necessarily replacing other social media, but they are doing one part better than another.”
For instance, Snapchat takes pictures and disappears after a few seconds. Webb argued that in this case, Snapchat is not replacing Facebook, it’s just that it has features that Facebook doesn’t, thereby drawing a different following.
In terms of traditional media fragmentation – including print and TV – Webb said he believes that it is happening too and that non-digital players will just have to adapt whether they like it or not.
He said some of traditional media players have done a tremendous job at adapting, which demonstrates that it’s possible to take advantage of the fragmentation that exists.
“Take for example the traditional fields in journalism or TV production,” he said. “By adapting, some media companies have turned that into a competitive advantage. In the end, you just can't be good at journalism as you have to also adapt to digitisation.”
When asked what kind of trends brand owners, creative agencies, and digital marketers can take advantage of in an increasingly fragmented digital world, Webb, who is based in Hong Kong, pointed to contextual media.
Advertisers used to target one group of consumers at any one time, but today, the target is much larger and in a sense, harder to reach, he said.
“We think that this is an opportunity because consumers are in different places for different reasons, and they have different needs,” Webb explained.
“Thus, consumers engage in brands in different ways as they have different touch points to research and buy [products and services].
“The opportunities are there but to make this work, brand owners and advertisers would have to be very granular and focused in their targeting, and this is where going mobile has the edge,” he said.
Webb said the contextual approach to advertising is key as he believes that it offers greater opportunity, especially for higher frequency brands with lower involvement. This includes the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector because people consume throughout the day.
Asked what this means in practice, Webb said that the contextual approach offers more opportunities for brands to connect and this means that brands simply have to work out when they are going to be selling their products, and then target consumers at same moment.
“For example, if you’re Starbucks, you would go after the morning crowd as that’s when your brand is most relevant and most coffee is bought and sold. That’s when advertising stands the best chance of getting through.
“If you’re a tech brand, don’t try to get them when consumers are working or when they are distracted with work, but get them during evenings or weekends when they can focus and when they’re spending time researching the products they want to buy.”
Aiding this contextual approach is the fact that mobile penetration, especially that of smartphones, is still growing strongly, Webb said.
“This means that at any point of the day, consumers have Internet connection in their pocket which enables brands to connect at any point, which is a huge advantage for brands,” he said.
Besides being contextual, Webb advised brand owners to be more personalised in their approach to advertising.
“One size doesn’t fit all, so don’t think of targeting the mass with a single kind of content or a single advertisement,” he argued.
“Think about targeting distinct and separate consumer segments, based on who they are, where they are, what they are doing, and what they want from your brand.”
Meanwhile, results from the TNS Connected Life study show that over 62% of Internet users in Malaysia access social media networks daily, compared with 42% globally; while 52% use instant messaging every day.
The study also noted that for over a third of Internet users in Malaysia, the screen of their mobile phone is the first face they see in the morning – 35% of Internet users in Malaysia reach for their mobile phone before they even get out of bed, while 34% use their phone in bed before they go to sleep.
“Phone usage contributes to the 4.5 hours of leisure time Internet users in Malaysia spend online every day. Much of this screen time is spent in staying more connected.
“And whilst almost three fifths (59%) admit to spending a lot of their time on social media, email is still an important channel, with over 58% sending personal email on a daily basis,” the report said.
Facebook is by far the most popular application, with almost half of Malaysian Internet users identifying it as their favourite social platform (48%) and 88% visiting the site weekly, it noted.
WhatsApp is not far behind for weekly use with 72% of Malaysian Internet users. However, it’s the favourite platform for one-fifth of the population (19%), noted the TNS report.
Interestingly, the study also highlighted that Malaysian Internet users do still engage with traditional media as they watch just under an hour and 20 minutes of TV every day, primarily during the evening when a quarter of Internet users will turn on the set.
“Our study has shown that Internet users in Malaysia are amongst the most attached to their digital devices of everyone we studied,” said Webb.
“We’ve been hearing about the declining influence of traditional media for some time, and the extent to which social media and digital devices have taken hold in Malaysia really shows this to be true,” he said.
Webb also said with traditional media continuing to play a role at particular times of day –TV in the early evening at dinner time, for example – there’s an opportunity for brands to “truly integrate their marketing like never before.”
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