SINGAPORE - As the demographic of social media users vary across regions, so do their consumer behaviour.
Yet one thing is for sure. With the digital world surging into its prime, businesses and marketers must understand that all eyes are on the cyber arena, to stay competitive in this rat race.
Investments in digital advertising have increased in recent years, and Mr Tuomas Peltoniemi certainly has the foresight to put his eggs in the right basket.
The 35-year-old was named Digital Specialist of the Year at Institute of Advertising Singapore's (IAS) Hall of Fame awards in 2015.
The president and innovation director of Asia's Digital Arts Network at advertising agency TBWA\'s digital marketing arm, deals the cards on what works for the region's advertising industry.
He told AsiaOne that TBWA\'s clientele has grown significantly in digital, mobile and social channels, which in turn drive up results exponentially.
"Some clients have a vision of moving up to 50 per cent of all their marketing spend to digital in the next three years," he added.
In his interview with AsiaOne, Mr Peltoniemi names five digital innovation trends in the region that clients are asking for now:
Data is possibly one of the largest investments marketers are making, both in data technology and talent. There is a huge demand for data related marketing services and most agencies are investing accordingly.
2. Programmatic media:
Getting the right content in front of the right consumer at the right time. This is no longer an option, but more of a necessity if marketers want to reach the right people in digital channels effectively.
3. Content marketing:
Moving away from classic advertising in digital channels to creating content in its various forms. This is really trending with both marketers and agencies at the moment, and investment is on the rise.
4. Virtual reality:
This seems to be the big buzzword at the moment. With platforms like Facebook enabling 360-degree video, products like Google Cardboard, and the more accessible and affordable virtual reality headsets, a lot of agencies and marketers are exploring this new form of storytelling.
This isn't a particularly new trend, but consumer behaviour in Asia is increasingly mobile. Marketers and agencies have to adopt a mobile first way of thinking in their marketing strategy, especially with any long term digital services.
Content marketing is in demand
Of the five trends Mr Peltoniemi listed, one that has been insidiously moving its way up the radar is content marketing.
Content marketing has been around for some time now, with Thailand at the forefront churning out incredible tear-jerking or hilarious advertisements which grab viewers' attention and make an impression.
Subtlety is the keyword in today's marketing genius while traditional methods of product placement are often heavily criticised.
Local director Jack Neo has received his own fair share of flak after attempting to integrate his film sponsors into his movies. Blatant product placements in his first edition of Ah Boys to Men in 2012 feature movie sponsors from Bee Cheng Hiang Toast Box and audit firm KPMG appear in odd ways.
But Mr Neo had told My Paper then that he was simply carrying out an "obligation in exchange for sponsorship".
In the trials and errors of making content marketing successful, Mr Peltoniemi says that it is important to understand your audience and their behaviour.
He advised marketers to observe where customers invest time in on digital channels to figure out what message to adopt.
"When it comes to digital marketing, spend 40 per cent of your time worrying about brand, another 40 per cent (of your time) worrying about performance related marketing, such as driving people to sign up or buy online, with more tactical messaging, and the last 20 per cent of the time creating conversations online," Mr Peltoniemi said, adding that "this can be done with content and social media".
"Ravenous appetite for digital consumption"
The first thing you pick up after a long day at work is most likely your mobile phone, a one-stop convenient portal to the digital world.
Millennials in Singapore alone spend almost 3.4 hours a day on their mobile phones, global research consultancy firm TNS found.
There is clearly a ravenous appetite for digital consumption now, more than ever.
"Marketing tends to follow the most effective ways of getting the right message to the right people. If you invest in a smart digital strategy, it will definitely yield results in the next five years," explained Mr Peltoniemi.
On the business front, he weighs the turnovers.
"Consider the media investment, production and agency fees and invest the same amount in digital. Because digital channels can be measured more comprehensively than traditional marketing channels, this investment will give rich insights into what's working and what isn't," advised Mr Peltoniemi.
One thing's for sure, digital advertising is a clever way to get started small and grow the investment as the results start coming through.
Digital advertising has been Mr Peltoniemi's bread and butter for at least 16 years and he is convinced it will thrive as a business model.
"I think it's a necessity. At the end of the day it's all about where your customers are and how you capture their attention in a relevant way," he said.
Do's and don'ts to ace a digital campaign
As with every venture, there is no yellow brick-road to snagging success. Mr Peltoniemi who first started as a technical designer in TBWA\PHS Helsinki first took on several hats as an executive, director before rising to head TBWA\'s Digital Arts Network Singapore.
With more than 16 years of experience in the industry under his belt, he has also been invited as an advisor to several tech start-ups in Singapore.
To him, a sure-fire recipe for success is getting the basics right about consumer awareness.
To do that, he advises marketers to invest in a professionally done mobile, web and social media presence. This includes budgeting appropriately on media as well as creating valuable content for customers.
Trends rise and fall in this fast-paced world. While the possibilities of digital marketing are endless, Mr Peltoniemi is quick to point out that marketers should be adventurous while playing it smart.
"Marketers should always make sure they know what their brand stands for and communicate accordingly," he said.
He also highlighted the recent case of how Air China's in-flight magazine sparked a racial uproar after it warned visitors that "precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people".
"Basically, don't do anything you wouldn't do in any other channels or in any communication with customers," he concluded.
The IAS Hall of Fame Awards is the only award show in Singapore that celebrates the stellar achievement of leading personalities, advertisers, agencies and campaigns for the year. The Awards Night will be held on Nov 23, 2016.
Submission closes on Sept 26, 2016. For more information, visit http://ias.org.sg/hof/