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Demystifying advertising customers' fear of 'digital'

One of the many perks of working in advertising is that you get to handle a plethora of accounts in various industries and categories. This ensures we never get bored.

However, the different levels of media savvy of the people who represent the brands that we love or despise often make these perks fall short.

Ask any marketing managers and they will often tell you they aspire to be pioneers of innovation. Reality often suggests a different story.

Nielsen Media Research has suggested that total advertising spending decreased by 6 per cent to Bt59 billion during the first half of 2014 compared with the first six months of last year, which is not surprising given all the political problems. But what remains unchanged is that digital-ad spends still represent less than 2 per cent of the total mix.

Why exactly is this when smartphone and tablet penetrations are on an exponential rise, becoming indispensable devices for the modern consumer? The share of eyeballs has shifted, TV ratings continue to fall, and yet innovations in media have been somewhat stagnant.

Ever since the advent of video streaming and watch-back viewing, namely YouTube and its billion-strong contingent, the communication landscape had made a monumental shift, creating groundbreaking work that has spurred on viewer engagement for the best part of the past five years. Yet local marketing managers seem to fear venturing beyond their comfort zones, believing that digital is not yet "proven".

Understandably, TV ratings have set industry standards, entrenching our beloved clients in the idea that ratings are everything. Plus, no global mobile rating schemes have been inaugurated, making marketers harder to convince on the effectiveness of mobile.

But as Albert Einstein once said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

However, all is not lost. Recently, IPG Mediabrands in cooperation with Rexona and "Thailand's Got Talent" worked together to implement the Kingdom's first ever simultaneous multi-screening campaign.

An app called ScanAd was deployed, creating an interactive page with the popular show on the smartphone, linking it to the video soundtrack on the show, informing audiences to ScanAd the video and interact with the program by answering a few simple questions during showtime and standing a chance to win prizes.

Simply ingenious.

1. It permeates into consumers' behaviour of multi-screening during TV viewing.

2. It preoccupies all eyeballs on the content, by bombarding them on all screens.

3. It engages consumers with the show and brands with incentives.

4. Everybody wins.

The pre-loaded ad on YouTube gets embedded on the app and everyone gets to watch on a second screen, while answering questions related to the show.

As a result, a total of 2.46 million ScanAd engagements have been achieved during the first three weeks since the app's inception with the show. Moreover, there have been a total of 40.6 million watch-back views of "Thailand's Got Talent". As a result, the programme and its subsequent ad ratings achieved a 6 and a 5.5 respectively on Sunday afternoons, making it the most popular show on terrestrial TV in Thailand at that time. How often do you see an ad rating so close to the rating of the mother programme itself?

This is a magnificent demonstration of what foresight, combined with a few ounces of courage, can help your brands achieve, without relying too heavily on traditional media in isolation. Nothing will ever replace television for sheer entertainment experience, but digital will play a bigger and sustainable role in helping marketers hold their viewers' attention back to the big screen.

The technological infrastructure is already here and with fourth-generation cellular forthcoming, the experience will only get better with time. Consumers have already moved on; we must too.

Pradon Sirakovit is group head of strategy and innovation, IPG Mediabrands. He can be reached at pradonn.sirakovit@mbww.com.


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