Opinion

10 take-aways from Ad:Tech Singapore

David KoIn this guest post, David Ko picks out 10 things he learned at digital marketing conference Ad:Tech in Singapore.

1. There are no more pure PR or advertising agencies. The industry has shifted and converged around Audience and Content. Everything else is channels.

2. Digital agencies continue to rise, and there are two kinds: one-stop and specialist. Specialist agencies focus on one particular discipline in the mix, whether it’s social media, web, email marketing, and so on. One-stop agencies, typically the large group, do everything. Each approach has its merits.

3. The marketplace is brutal. Agencies are marketing themselves aggressively. There is no excuse for an agency that doesn’t have a LinkedIn or Facebook page. Or doesn’t tweet. Or doesn’t generate compelling content to sell its wares.

4. Senior management in the marketing industry is still dominated by expats. Why? They grew up in an environment that helps them think globally. Unfairly, they are also equipped with language skills that helps them absorb and learn more, because so much leading edge work is still coming out of the West. However, we Asians have an advantage: Asians are re-making the region’s marketing in our image. China is a great example where Asians have the best chance to be agency leaders, and often do.

5. In the digital age, execution is no longer what clients pine for. Anyone can be a video producer, anyone can learn a new skill by watching a YouTube video. Clients want Ideas. Clients want content that attracts eyeballs and interest and most importantly, engagement. Content is king.

6. The PR world can learn a lot from the advertising world, and one of them is the extensive use of videos to tell stories and communicate. Every presentation at Ad:Tech featured embedded videos. Videos are EXPECTED in the marketing world.

7. Differentiation is hard. In the digital age, everyone has access to useful information about best practices. Doing best practices is no longer enough. We need to master best practices, and then go beyond. Every agency knows the best practices, so every agency follows them, to the point where they become undifferentiated and boring. To excel, we need to learn best practices, then break them, in order to surprise and delight clients.

8. The relationship of a brand with its customers can be likened to romantic relationships. Brands need to romance their customers. Be funny, engaging, authentic, responsible. Customers engage with a brand because of how it makes them feel, not because of their products’ bells and whistles.

9. Brands must have a higher purpose. Consumers respond to a brand that wants to make a difference in the world. TOMS was cited by We Are Social’s Asia head Simon Kemp as a brand that he admires and wouldn’t mind working for.

10. Mobile is here, get used to it. No need to belabour this point, it’s obvious.

David Ko is the co-founder and managing director of digital marketing agency, the Daylight Partnership.

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