Three digital predictions for APAC and why they matter

India in my mind_Vittorio Benedetti_Flickr

Cross-screen targeting, programmatic, and the rise of India should be on the radar of every marketer in APAC, as we move into 2016.

Last year, the APAC region was a center of evolution in the digital sphere. On the brand side, we saw an increased focus on content – be it native, short-form, or video. While on the ad tech side, we saw more consolidation and more emphasis on marketing automation. Finally, there was a continued drive towards programmatic with a deeper focus on solving data challenges on behalf of clients, on the agency side.

All of this will continue as we move into 2016. But, if there are just three big-ticket items that we can expect to see the most growth and to have the most impact, it will be in the following areas:

1. The cross-screen dream becomes a reality

The ability to cross-link everything between screens and devices may be one of the most important movements we see this year. Smart advertising for brands will be about engaging with audiences, not devices. Knowing who your audiences are at a single point in time and no matter what device they are on, will be critical.

Devices_Luke Wroblewski_Flickr

This will be especially important in Asia, as we have such a high proportion of smartphone usage as well as second and third screen behavior here.

Take Singapore, where smartphone ownership for some time has hovered around 87 percent. According to the GWI Singapore Market Report Q4 2015, Singaporeans who use a second device, like a smartphone, while simultaneously watching television, is at a staggering 82 percent. In addition, 35 percent of Singaporean households own a smart TV, which makes it all the more important to connect these devices in order to truly understand who that user is as they begin to move seamlessly from screen to screen.

GWI Singapore Smart TV graph

To make this happen, we will need to utilize new technology players like Tapad, Krux, and Drawbridge among others, to help brands produce actual individual graphs of their audiences across devices that we can then target.

The implications for marketers are huge. With this technology, brands can start rolling out sequential messaging across screens depending on a user’s particular journey all in real-time. This will be a big win, particularly for marketers who already have a strong device offering.

For example, according to the GWI China Market Report Q1 2015, 18 percent of China’s online population owns a smartwatch and 45 percent own a smart TV. The first wave of this “cross-screen dream” will revolve mainly around mobile and desktop. But in markets like China, it will start expanding very quickly to TVs, watches, and basically anything that gives off a signal.

2. Programmatic and the rise of the machines

Another area where we will continue to see massive growth in Asia will be within programmatic. This will be fueled by the continual shift towards audience and data-driven buying, as a result of the influx of ad tech players entering the region over the last two to three years.

Advertisers will become savvier in how to make better use of both third-party and first-party data. They will also become a lot more knowledgeable around the benefits of a data management platform (DMP) and how it can help drive business results. Brands have definitely started seeing the benefits of data-driven audience targeting compared to the traditional site-based planning approach over the past two years , but 2016 will be the breakout year for this type of targeting.

According to a Magna Global Intelligence Programmatic Report, Japan, China, and Australia were the top three markets in APAC for programmatic spend last year. I believe in 2016, we will start to see more Southeast Asian markets breaking into the top 10, with India also starting to make a stronger push.

As the migration towards video content continues to accelerate, we will also start to see more and more programmatic video being bought across devices. This is a trend I have even seen arise with our own clients, with year-over-year investments in programmatic video reaching levels of 65 percent or more.

Finally, as more markets within APAC become smart TV-led, we will start to see programmatic have greater influence within what has always been a somewhat traditional and analog environment of broadcast TV.

TV shows we used to watch_Paul Townsend_Flickr

Brands that embrace data and technology and that have built clear strategic directions with teams to help guide them, will be the big winners with programmatic. Sectors like retail, finance, and travel – all of which work with large volumes of data – will also start to use technology at scale to buy super-targeted audiences. As for the more traditional brands in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) space that are accustomed to traditional TV buys, they will start to embrace programmatic video. In coming years, these brands will probably reach the point when programmatic video finally takes over their traditional TV efforts.

3. India becomes the new China

Over the past five or so years we have seen a consistent lens on China, as it reaches greater heights of digital acceleration. But 2016 will be the year of India, as it begins to step out of its shadow.

India_Audience_Abhisek Sarda_Flickr

From a macro level, India’s GDP will grow by about seven percent in 2015 and is slated to grow by seven and a half percent in 2016, according to a recent report from the IMF. India has also seen total advertising spend grow by 16.3 percent in 2015, with digital growing by almost 50 percent and more on the way for next year, according to a recent Magna Global report.

India is not as digitally walled-off as China. The global players of Google, Facebook, and Twitter are all heavily active. India is, in fact, Facebook’s second largest market globally, with Twitter being in the top five. This will help India have more rapid growth once they focus on improving infrastructure and speed.

In 2015, saw India having the strongest e-commerce growth worldwide at 80.3 percent. This year, we will continue to see a strong push on e-commerce with the likes of Flipkart, Snapdeal, and others starting to make big moves.

For marketers, this represents a blue ocean. Clearly there is a strong focus on e-commerce, and brands can start to get more into that space to sell directly to the consumer. And given the massive prominence of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, content and social are two areas for marketers to start exploring in innovative ways to reach large masses of audiences.

Finally, 2016 will see programmatic making bigger strides, as the technology infrastructure gets fully setup.

In conclusion

We are currently witnessing a turning point in the history of advertising and media. The things that we can do now with the use of smart technology – targeting individual audiences in real-time – was something of dreams just 10 years ago. Who can predict what changes lie ahead and how progressive the industry will be 12 months from now?

Images via Flickr.

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