Basil Chua of Multiverse Partners on Navigating APAC's Advertising Landscape

The digital advertising landscape in APAC is characterised by rapid growth, technological innovation, and the critical importance of cultural and local market nuances. Delving into the evolving dynamics of the APAC, Basil Chua, managing partner at Multiverse Partners, highlights a transformative shift, underscoring the impact of Generative AI in revolutionising personalised advertising, and the critical need for cultural sensitivity and localisation.

How do you foresee the APAC advertising market evolving in 2024?

That's a very interesting question, one I've been asked frequently lately. Looking back over the last 20 years, we've seen a dramatic evolution in the media industry landscape. It has transitioned from free-to-air, legacy media, and pay TV, which has largely disappewared, to a digital and OTT-driven model. This year, I anticipate significant growth in advertising on OTT platforms in Asia, a trend already observed in the West but not yet fully realised here. Traditional advertisers are moving away from legacy media, facing challenges in accountability and measurement. This shift to digital puts pressure on legacy media to evolve. Additionally, outdoor media is adapting by incorporating footfall traffic measurements to provide advertisers with some estimate of their audience.

With Gen AI, we will see 100X the rate of change that impacts every player in the marketing and advertising ecosystem. For example, advertisers will be able to tailor make personalised advertising messages at scale to individuals and micro-segments, while studios and content creators can produce movies and videos at a fraction of the cost and time. The entire marketing ecosystem across the advertising supply chain is being hard-pressed and challenged to transform with Gen AI to keep up or be left behind.

What are some of the most significant challenges companies face when entering the
APAC market?

Entering the APAC market presents unique challenges, particularly for Western companies. The diversity of the market, composed of numerous micro-markets each with its own nuances, necessitates a localised approach. In my experience, while I was heading marketing at both at National Geographic Channel and Fox International Channels (before Disney’s acquisition), we had to tailor our contents, advertisements and messaging for each market. For instance, in Malaysia, advertisements had to be translated into multiple languages to effectively reach the target demographics due to the multiethnic society of Malaysia. This level of diversity requires a deep understanding and adaptation to local cultures and consumer behaviours.

With Gen AI, content localisation, personalisation, and targeted advertising can all be achieved quickly and at a far lower cost. While Gen AI is perhaps one of the most exciting developments of our times, we all know that several advanced jurisdictions have begun to introduce various AI ethical and responsible innovation frameworks to protect society from harm.

How crucial is understanding the region's cultural diversity for marketers' success?

Understanding and integrating the diverse cultural aspects of the APAC region is absolutely critical. The region's linguistic and cultural diversity means that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Even small details, such as work hours and meeting expectations, vary significantly across countries and can impact business operations. For example, the cultural nuances in how messages are perceived can necessitate adjustments to ensure they are appropriate and effective in each local context. This underscores the importance of localisation in marketing strategies within the APAC region.

What strategies are necessary for advertisers to sustain growth in APAC long-term?

For long-term success, advertisers need to balance between brand building and performance marketing. The pressure for short-term results, driven by financial accountability, often conflicts with the need for long-term brand investment. However, a strong brand can reduce the cost of performance marketing over time. Therefore, a dual strategy focusing on both brand presence and immediate performance metrics is essential. Ad tech companies face a different set of challenges, including market saturation and the need to establish strong relationships and localised value propositions. Understanding local market needs and tailoring offerings accordingly is crucial for both advertisers and ad tech companies aiming for long-term growth in the APAC region.

Further, advertisers need to keep up with the rapidly changing technological landscape. We have briefly discussed the challenges and opportunities in Gen AI. It will be interesting to see how advertisers can leverage and adopt Gen AI in the future responsibly.

About Multiverse Partners
Multiverse Partners is a marketing and business development professional services consultancy firm focused on growing its customers’ businesses in the APAC region.