Understanding Digital Platforms at APMF 2014

The first day of Asia Pacific Media Forum 2014 was filled with many insightful revelations about being in the digital industry and understanding the shift in consumer trends and behaviors. Following AKQA CEO Ajaz Ahmed’s speech on innovation, longevity, and leadership qualities, world president of the International Advertising Association Fariz Abouhamad spoke about consumer behavior in Southeast Asia and how brands have responded over the years.

Abouhamad believes that contextual advertising, one that is more relevant to the situations and conditions of specific consumers, as opposed to generally aimed ads, is going to stay for the long term.

Additionally, Abouhamad mentioned that advertising expenditure in Indonesia has been growing at 15% for the past two quarters and it is the highest not only in the region but it is also higher than in the United States and Europe.

Abouhamad said that many local creative agencies may be lamenting at the low numbers of expenditure in Indonesia but in terms of growth, it’s second to none at 15% and it’s set to continue under the incoming government.

Managing Director of Nielsen Asia Pacific Middle East and Africa, Paul Fisher, provided further optimism in the industry and agreed that the level of business confidence following the election may help maintain the growth that the industry has been enjoying even though it’s traditionally a slow period.

He also spoke about the strong trend of consumers using multiple screens and the rising dominance of video in online media consumption but also warned of the rapidly changing nature of personal devices especially given the introduction of the Apple Watch earlier this month.

Anand Tilak, head of Facebook Indonesia, told the audience that changes in this generation have occurred much faster than in the previous generations. The speed at which today’s companies overtaking the domain of older companies is like nothing that anyone has ever seen before, so marketers need a much more advanced way to keep up with consumers and Tilak highlighted the importance of using analytics to measure activities on Facebook.

According to Tilak, while the cost of adopting digital marketing may only be 3-5% of total marketing expense, the cost of not adopting it is significantly higher because brands will miss out on consumer trends and may suffer the same consequences as Kodak which failed to do just that.

Although consumers are embracing the digital world enthusiastically, brands are still tip-toeing in to the field as they are still unsure of how to act and respond to online consumer feedback because history has shown that one small innocent mistake by brands in social media may lead to something more significant.

This pitfall is what Ong Hock Chuan, co-founder of communications consultancy firm Maverick, tries to help anticipate by highlighting the fact that online consumer backlash often don’t last for too long and companies need to be aware of the ways to deal with such occasions. His advice? Stay quiet if possible.

Kudsia Kahar, Chief Broadcaster of Malaysia’s The Star Group radio network, spoke about mastering context and nuances in delivering content and told the story of how Red FM has embraced video to connect better with its audience. For the print media, Earl J. Wilkinson, CEO of News Media Association, was on stage to speak about how publishers must adapt to the new generation to remain relevant.

Day one of the conference ended with a musical performance from Abdee Negara of rock band Slank after he told the story of how music helped shape the opinion of the people and played a significant role in this year’s Indonesian presidential election.

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