Julian Newby
Julian Newby 23 April 2021

A Look at the Changing Media Landscape in APAC in 2021

The evolving face of media consumption in Asia Pacific markets has presented advertisers and marketers with an interesting set of challenges. While digital media consumption is growing rapidly in urban centres, traditional formats continue to hold sway, requiring media professionals to stage a fine balancing act when choosing their platforms for campaigns.

Another pressing question facing them is how to reach audiences who use a mix of paid and free subscription streaming services, especially when behaviors vary drastically market-by-market in Asia. 

This fresh set of challenges and the opportunities that come with them were explored at great length in YouGov’s recent panel discussion, YouGov draws on key insights from YouGov’s International Media Consumption Report 2021 to discuss the major impacts of Covid-19 on consumer behaviors in APAC.

With behaviors shifting rapidly in the previous year, YouGov’s ability to monitor and measure these changes over time using a continuous stream of up-to-date consumer data helps provide actionable insight for brands and agencies to develop effective brand strategies and campaigns.

Hosted by Ervin Ha, Head of Data Products Asia Pacific at YouGov, the panel featured four industry experts in the media and advertising space – Arindam Bhattacharyya (Chief Strategy Officer, Media and Performance, Dentsu Indonesia), Craig Harvey (Head of Research, APAC, IPG Mediabrands), Jeanette Phang (GM Strategy and Insights, Publicis Groupe, China) and Charlotte Wright (Chief Growth Officer, Asia Pacific, Wavemaker). 

Our panel of experts share their experiences as marketing executives vying for the attention of consumers amid the coronavirus crisis. They review the major changes in media consumption – from the ecosystem of paid/free streaming subscriptions in Asia to the need for creativity across an omnichannel advertising strategy – and give their predictions for the year as we near a post-pandemic world.

Finding Consumers Where They are Across the Spectrum of Paid and Free Subscriptions

A growing community of consumers in the APAC region is gravitating towards premium-tier subscription streaming services as media consumption continues to grow. The challenge now for advertisers and brands is getting in front of this ad-free audiences. Our panel argues that there will be ways to engage with these consumers if we better understand where they fall on the spectrum of free and premium subscriptions across the other services they may be using.

Craig Harvey of IPG Mediabrands notes, “We often compartmentalize people in terms of ‘you’re going to pay’ or ‘you’re not going to pay’ [for a subscription service]. However, within the middle is about 50% of the population that can be swayed. We also need to look at repertoire and with so many different types of streaming platforms out there, a consumer who subscribes to one premium service will not necessarily subscribe to the others when they just need one or two. Brands really need to buy into what is their product differentiation to they enable them to get that potential sale.” 

Consumer insights into the full gamut of streaming services consumers use every day will be critical to maximizing the potential of these audiences. Arindam Bhattacharyya describes it as a “reengineering of the engagement strategy” particularly taking into account market nuances such as differences in urban and rural populations, how infrastructure limitations in each market affect content playback and how the pandemic impacts personal disposable income in each place.

The Acceleration of Entertainment, Social Content and Advertising on Ecommerce Platforms

Ecommerce advertising has benefited from pandemic lifestyle shifts that have seen many of us spending less on physical retail and spending more online. This type of advertising is ripe for brand building efforts, as Charlotte Wright observes: “The secret sauce [of ecommerce platforms in Asia] is the combination of entertainment, social and fantastic deals - and let’s face it, everyone loves a good deal. And when you bring these things together, I think that’s where you can really start to drive success.

According to Wright, “Social media is an integral part of building a brilliant e-commerce platform” in APAC.

"The places where consumers go for entertainment; for knowledge about brands are actually shifting," she says. "We've seen in China that the touch point that's most influential to build a brand is actually coming through the ecommerce platforms.” 

"So it's not necessarily the case that Netflix or linear TV are the only options if you really want to build your brand. Social is actually a really influential platform for driving conversion. I don't think as media businesses we have to be stuck at just looking at traditional impressions and eyeballs in video to help our clients grow their brands, even though it is and remains a very, very powerful medium." 

Increasingly, however, services such as Facebook and WeChat are themselves being used as e-commerce platforms by consumers, a trend that brands are looking to capitalise on.

"Consumers are just trying to find the shortest way to buy something they've seen," explains Jeanette Phang. "We've seen a lot of moves from traditionally social publishers into becoming more and more ecommerce-focused. Xiaohongshu, which is known as Red outside of China, now has the ability to sell products on their platform.” 

"And we know that TikTok is moving into that space. They have all these eyeballs, they have all these consumers who are on this platform. How do they then convert within their platform, instead of sending them out to different channels?" 

The line is becoming so thin between social media and e-commerce platforms that some experts would argue that successful Asian e-commerce platforms have become social channels - where many consumers rate products and host live streams. Additionally, social is making it easier to understand where audiences are in their purchase journeys and helping to deliver ads to them within whatever ecosystem they tend to spend their time. 

What Other Trends and Insights Did Our Experts Discuss in the Webinar? 

During the session, our experts explored a range of topics critical to understanding the rapid shifts in media consumption and ad spending. The on-demand webinar explores insights into how the industry is changing, including:

  • The importance of the micro-influencer in the social media space. Craig Harvey says, "I think that the influence of the micro social media person will actually become a lot more prevalent." 
  • Ecommerce and social media commerce enabling small-scale businesses to reach wider audiences. Arindam says the phenomenon has taken flight in Indonesia. "Someone who is into gourmet cooking or clothing, they can now reach out and sell. That (trend) has leapfrogged here in Indonesia, which is a promising thing to see.”

Download YouGov’s International Media Consumption Report 2021.

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