Media buying agency Just Global operates in the business-to-business arena, which often requires approaches that combine niche targeting and scale. The company says those complexities are amplified when rolling out campaigns in the Asia-Pacific region, or APAC, as plans often take longer than expected.
“APAC isn’t for the faint of heart,” says Mhairi Turnbull, supervisor of programmatic at Just Global. “It’s important to set realistic expectations with your clients around the longer lead time, necessary documentation, review process and overall collaborative effort it takes.”
APAC is forecast to be the world’s fastest-growing region through 2030, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Turnbull says Just Global — whose clients include industry leading technology brands such as Blackberry, Adobe and F5 Networks — expanded its operations to APAC to better serve its clients.
The Current spoke with Turnbull on setting up shop in APAC, how cultural differences impact programmatic and what brands are doing well. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
You expanded to APAC last year. What surprised you?
We knew each country in Asia would have a lot of red tape to get through, but we were surprised at the level of permissions required in China specifically.
Tell me about the cultural differences.
Mobile consumption definitely outweighs desktop in this market. The majority of people in APAC interact and engage with the digital world through their smartphones. In China, uniquely, users often even favor apps over the mobile web.
What is something successful brands do very well in Asia?
The messaging and media strategies must be tailored towards the cultural insights of those populations. A translation of the same message and strategy that was devised in the U.S. simply won’t work in Asia. Businesses need to dive deep into Asian culture, media habits, data available and a plethora of other inputs before they can prepare for success.
How does that impact something like programmatic?
The potential of programmatic advertising in APAC is massive. Asia is not one homogenous market — just because a marketing campaign is successful in one country, does not mean it will be successful in another.
How are ad units and platforms different in China?
Look at Connected TV. While CTV inventory is available in Singapore, it’s only in beta form in China and Japan by individual advertiser approval only. Programmatic audio is another medium that’s available in Asia except for Korea and China. Also, in China, there are no programmatic direct buys.
Last question: What’s a common mistake that agencies make when expanding to APAC?
A lot of U.S.-based advertisers see the huge audiences in Asia and want to get their brand in front of them, but their goals stop there.