APAC is an interesting region to work in for marketers, containing an eclectic mix of cultures, economies, and dramatically different geographies.
The diversity in APAC means there are an equally diverse array of trends across the markets here, so in this article, I’ve taken a look at five key drivers of change affecting the region and dived into some associated trends in marketing that I’m seeing this year.
Here are my top five interesting areas to watch in APAC
- Marketing leaders must do more with less: budgets and headcount are under scrutiny due to the global economic turbulence
- Poor quality control in digital advertising: in Australia last year, a massive 40% of digital ad budgets were wasted, which is a big jump up from 2021
- Big-time Ecomm is coming: E-commerce / Social Commerce continues to grow across developing Asian markets
- Gaming is (finally) being taken seriously: interest in previously niche channels increases and esports continues to grow
- Spam and fakery just got better: expect a tidal wave of low-quality, high-volume crap to hit the internet as people chase “money for nothing” ad dollars
Marketing leaders must do more with less: budgets and headcount are under scrutiny due to the global economic turbulence
In challenging times, marketing is always on the chopping block. We’ve had a rolling series of blows over the last few years from covid border closures to continued brain drain in the digital industry. Challenges on the CMO table are stacking up, and losing money or domain expertise that can’t be replaced easily is going to help.
In addition to the squeeze, there are an alarming number of what can only be described as mad job descriptions out there for digital unicorns who can do it all (for an entry-level salary). Just look at some of these job listings for digital marketing around Sydney if you don’t believe me.
These crazy requirements, combined with the recent (if you believe them) “great resignation” and “quiet quitting” phenomena, have led to massive reassessments of what work means to people.
I think we’ll see people continuing to lean into the holistic “growth” mindset – as opposed to siloed specialist functions – working to embed sustainable machinery into their business that drives growth rather than relying solely on people and specialist knowledge that is easily lost.
Poor quality control in digital advertising: in Australia last year, a massive 40% of digital ad budgets were wasted, a big jump up from 2021
Google and Facebook were the two biggest culprits for wasted ad spend last year in Australia and Singapore. As covid drove everyone online through 21/22, spend increased in line with that behaviour.
It seems however that scrutiny of the ad tech, the targeting and the actual returns did not. This is a trend I’ve seen throughout my career in digital over the last 15 years. Any major change and the knee-jerk response is to ramp up ad spend without any real interrogation of the strategy or the current marketing infrastructure.
The obvious thing to do, following point #1, is to find out where that 40% of your budget is being wasted, stop it, and look like a hero in the next C-Suite meeting.
I mean, it’s not rocket science, is it?
Big time Ecomm is coming: Ecommerce / Social Commerce continues to grow across developing Asian markets
Southeast Asia is home to some of the world’s most avid social media users. In the more populous, urbanised, and well-connected markets, ecomm is going from strength to strength. Development of the infrastructure has been accelerated by, in some cases, very strict lockdown measures.
Advanced social commerce is creating a boom in some areas – for example, in Singapore, the social commerce industry is expected to grow by 55% this year. The holy trinity of massive social media adoption, concentrated population centres, and legendary celeb/influencer culture are what makes this possible and I believe will continue to drive growth as AR / VR becomes more of a reality.
Watch out for Live Commerce emerging as a major trend – imagine the potential for exclusive virtual events and FOMO sales – amazing and horrifying in equal measure!
Gaming is (finally) being taken seriously: interest in previously niche channels increases and esports continues to grow
I think we can all agree that Mark Zuckerberg / Meta’s “Metaverse” is one of the lamest things to happen in the last 5 years in digital. On the plus side though, people seem to have realised that games are way, way ahead of the curve here and have – gasp – already built rich, highly engaging virtual worlds that you can use right now.
The downside of this is that the corporate-muggle world has now discovered previously safe (from mainstream marketing) havens such as Discord, Twitch, and Reddit and big ad dollars are dropping into gaming.
With the launch of cloud gaming platforms like Nvidia’s GeForce now, gaming is accessible to more people than ever (i.e. you don’t need a $4k PC to run them). Once VR tech becomes affordable, we will see a real step forward into virtual worlds that people will actually want to spend time in.
Spam and fakery just got better: expect a tidal wave of low-quality, high-volume crap to hit the internet as people chase “money for nothing” ad dollars
Finally, to come full circle at the end, I said I wouldn’t talk about AI but I will a little. Marketers will face more challenges in quality control and brand safety this year because people have already started using AI to create websites and content purely to gather ad dollars.
These are just like the SEO link farms of old that unsavoury players used to outsource to third-world countries back in the day, but turbocharged with the scale of AI assistants.
That, plus the now incredibly realistic fakes we’re seeing from generative AI models (and previously deepfake video), is going to create a very challenging environment for the digital marketer. Brand control just got a whole lot harder.
Having said that, every problem hides an opportunity as the saying goes. I’m very interested to see what marketers can do with this new, incredibly powerful set of tools in their hands.
So there you have it…
Some big change drivers in some very different areas across APAC. There’s so much going on down here that it’s hard to stay across everything. I’d love to hear your thoughts from your own market or brand.
Finally, if you’re keen to hear more about the implications of AI in these areas, you can jump on the mailing list for the Flow State Podcast, we had a great conversation with Lee which will be out very soon!
Stuart P. Turner