As the digital environment in Asia continues to develop, competition will increase and new advertising formats will emerge. Brands need to carefully consider the user experience and create engaging, interactive content in order to reach consumers online.
By Angeline Lodhia, General Manager, InSkin Media
The Hong Kong ad market is growing, reaching a record HK$43.1 billion last year, according to admanGO. Digital advertising's share of the market is also growing in importance, having overtaken print media in 2013, and now is only dwarfed by advertisers' huge appetite for television.
People are spending more time on digital platforms than ever before, so this is a prime opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of the sophistication of digital to interact with a more engaged audience.
As online media planners and buyers are seduced by the wonders of automation, with programmatic, and as there is an excess supply of advertising space on the Internet, direct response (DR) campaigns have become cheaper and cheaper, cannibalizing online revenues away from higher-value online branding buys. Of course, many media plans require search, social media, and DR in their strategy. The question is, what did that click deliver and where does branding fit in?
Digital is the ultimate measureable medium. It can offer more than simply eliciting a response and creating a sale; it can also provide deeper engagement that is more meaningful than any other form of brand advertising. Measurement metrics like dwell time (i.e. time spent with the brand) and viewability need to be taken into consideration, and their effect on key brand metrics: brand awareness, consumer opinion, brand recall, and purchase intent.
But how do you stand out from this cluttered world of pop-ups, overlays, and floating MPUs all vying for users' attention, and deliver something truly valuable?
The creative execution is a key contributor, not only in its aesthetic value, but also in the environment in which it is served to the user. It's the difference between serving the same tasty dish on a plastic plate or on a silver platter; naturally, the same dish served on the silver platter will be the more eye-catching and appealing choice. This is the logic that needs to be applied to online branding.
An intrusive format, which disrupts a user's browsing, is frustrating and delivers a negative brand association toward the advertiser and publisher alike. As the digital environment develops, and becomes more complex, so will competition increase and new advertising formats abound. The experience for the user needs to be carefully considered for any long-term branding or monetization strategy.
Online video offers an ideal opportunity for advertisers to develop engaging, interactive digital strategies, especially in Hong Kong, where an extremely high percentage of the Web population views video online. Pre-roll is considered the solution for this, but advertisers are missing an opportunity by using an ad designed for TV in an environment primed for interaction. Content needs to be tailored for Web users, inviting the user to interact and offering a clear call-to-action. Using video as part of the creative strategy should deliver a memorable advertising message that stays visible for longer, delivering considered and meaningful clicks, and moving the branding needle.
It's an exciting time for brand marketers, as they become more aware of what digital brand advertising can deliver. The brave will embrace the possibility to try something outside of the traditional comfort zone of TV, and create truly engaging digital work, which measured effectively, through brand metrics and not just clicks, will clearly demonstrate the huge value that the digital space can offer branding campaigns.