Brand considerations for digital marketing in APAC

Edward Brooks

Edward Brooks, Trader at The Exchange Lab, looks at three points brands should consider before starting a digital marketing campaign in APAC.

Expanding into new markets can be daunting for any business and exploring new markets within the programmatic advertising space is no exception. For western companies looking to break into Asia Pacific (APAC), there are a number of considerations to consider before jumping in.

APAC spans many countries, languages, cultural values and religious differences – all of which need to be taken into account when developing your business strategies. Each country is at a different growth stage and as a result, every aspect of a campaign needs to be tailored individually.

Although there are risks inherent in entering a new market, there is also tremendous opportunity as online marketing in the region begins to soar. APAC has over one billion smartphone users and many countries such as China, India and Indonesia are beginning to mature.

The vastness of APAC means that EMEA or North American markets cannot afford to make assumptions on consumer behaviour by market and must think carefully before entering into each market to avoid any potential brand damage.

With that in mind, here are some points to consider when embarking on a digital campaign in APAC.

Translating metrics across cultures

Whether it is an understanding of pixel-mapping, cookie management or creative diversity, marketers in APAC face a huge task to overcome country variation. For marketers new to programmatic advertising, the landscape can be confusing, particularly when dealing with multiple languages and market capabilities. Add to the mix broader marketing concepts such as omni-channel and incremental-reach - some of which attempt to marry online and offline KPIs - and the path to achieving attribution becomes a lot more complicated.

Aim to keep KPIs simple across all marketing channels. Ask yourself: ’what is the most important goal for my campaign?’ Attributing value to each campaign is incredibly important and ensuring that those strategies are set up correctly, managed, and reported on is just as important for realising campaign success.

Open and honest attitude

Imagine you have a multi-country campaign being run by a team outside your market. You will naturally want to understand what safeguards are put in place that span across brand safety and user engagement as well as the legitimacy of the targeting and delivery. From the perspective of a programmatic specialist, dealing with different teams and clients half way across the world and trying to explain how different metrics differ in terms of performance across each geography can often be complex. Communication with all teams should be clear and open. The best way to explain market variations is through data-driven analysis and bespoke reporting. Being honest from the beginning will undoubtedly help build trust, increase the understanding of market nuances and create an integrated feel with the wider team.

Find a partner with the infrastructure and technical knowledge that allows global teams to support and engage you in all markets. Build on knowledge bases across the business and nurture relationships between sales and operational staff so that all members can add value to campaign performance. This will build trust – and with trust comes long lasting relationships.

Adapt to the market

There are a number of different country specific restrictions facing western media companies trying to enter into the APAC region. These restrictions can come from either big local publishers looking to control their inventory via their own proprietary ad tech platforms or from government legislation, stopping the likes of Google, Facebook and YouTube from accessing their data.

One of the most sought-after targeting methods in APAC currently is one that is fairly established in the western markets today - contextual targeting. Through both keyword and semantic based methods, one advantage contextual targeting gives is to target audiences by language at scale. Segments can be custom built, brand-focused or brand-dominating (through conquest targeting of rival brands), and can be pre-approved well before campaigns begin. By adapting to the market rather than trying to replicate strategies from other geographies you can set yourself apart from the competition.

Setting your brand up for success

While a uniformed approach to campaign management in a diverse market like APAC is needed, it is the bespoke tailoring of each campaign that will set brands up for success. Emerging market strategies should be based on logic. Keep goals simple, communication honest and reporting transparent. These steps will keep you on the right path to gaining regional market share.

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