Opinion

IAB Singapore’s new executive director Miranda Dimopoulos on growing digital advertising in Southeast Asia

Miranda DimopoulosMiranda Dimopoulos took over as executive director of the Singapore chapter of the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Southeast Asia earlier this month.

In this interview, the former content director at Digital Marketing Group – the company behind Ad:Tech – talked to Mumbrella Asia’s editor Robin Hicks about the task ahead to grow the sub-region’s digital advertising market.

You’ve worked at This is the first time you’ve worked for an industry body. What do you see as the hardest part of the job?

I’ve had the honour of working with many industry luminaries over the past 12 years, many of whom I consider mentors. And over the last 12 months, I worked with DMG on the ad:tech and iMedia series across Southeast Asia and Australia. Through this experience I’ve met with, and become close to, many of the industry leaders and councils. This has opened doors in my role at the IAB.

The biggest challenge in my job will be building on the momentum that already exists in our industry, and lifting the IAB to where it can be considered on par with our more mature chapters globally.

What are your initial plans in your role at the IAB?

I’ve inherited a strong platform developed by global and regional experts, including our chairman emeritus Ken Mandel [now APAC CEO of HootSuite] and our chairman Wendy Hogan [soon to step down as regional boss of CBS Interactive] on which to build and meet our objectives.

To kick off 2014, we have our first training session on mobile on the 20 February at Google, and an executive breakfast featuring Unilever’s Rahul Welde in early March. We’re are looking to develop our strategic partnerships with The Knowledge Engineers, Festival of Media, Branded Group/All That Matters, and work on new episodes of our Digital Asia video series. We are also building on our IAB measurement and insights services to enhance them for the Southeast Asia market.

Digital marketing spend in Singapore remains very low – despite very high device penetration. Why do you think this is, and what do you see as the most effective way to raise digital spend in Singapore and across Southeast Asia?

According to eMarketer, Asia-Pacific is expected to surpass the USA in total ad spend this year thanks to extraordinary growth rates in internet and mobile internet usage, as well as rapid growth in digital ad spend. Also, GfK Asia reports that smartphone sales volume grew 61 per cent in the first three quarters of 2013. These figures represent untapped opportunities that the IAB is helping the industry to realise and reach our 2020 vision [digital making up 20 per cent of all marketing spend by 2020].

Do you really think the 20 per cent goal is realistic within six years?

If we take our 2020 vision in the context of Asia, then China is already showing us the way. The UK, where digital represents almost 50 per cent of ad spend gives us the approach, and the dominant Southeast Asia multi-screen realities give us the vision. The role of smart devices in the hands of Asian consumers, and the reality that we account for 41 per cent of all online transactions, leads us to believe in a very bright future. We dominate in smartphone penetration and e-commerce transactions, and we hope our programmes will prepare our members for this emerging landscape.

Who are the industry figureheads you most admire who can raise the profile of digital marketing in this region?

There are those who have paved the way and drive the industry, and many of those people are in the IAB today. I’ve also been inspired by some fresher voices in the industry. To name just a few: Wendy Hogan, former ESPN executive James Miner, Digital Arts Network’s Luke Eid, Christel Quek of Twitter, LinkedIn’s Olivier Legrand, Click2View’s Simon Geenty, Jason Kuperman from Omnicom Digital, Keith Timimi of VML Qais, Tobias Wilson at Accomplice and Goodstuph’s Pat Law.

How do you think Asia measures up to other regions around the world on the digital front?  

Asia is a region that cannot be matched for untapped growth  potential in digital. What we will unlock and establish over the coming years will set the standards for what success looks like in our industry; Alibaba’s 11.11 Shopping Sale is just a precursor of those successes to come.

What is your favourite digital campaign?

Ask me again after the World Cup…

Industry bodies usually get a hard time for not doing enough or doing the wrong things. What do you regard as success for the IAB within your first year as executive director?

Positive feedback from our members. That’s the greatest measure of success, as well as taking the right steps to realising our 2020 vision.

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