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An illustrious and record breaking holiday shopping season closed off 2019 for marketers in SEA, with a blockbuster Singles Day, according to CNBC, and similarly strong Cyber Monday, Black Friday, 12.12 sales on top of the Christmas and New Year holidays.
With Chinese New Year less than a month apart from the usual year-end holiday shopping season, marketers are wasting no time in going full swing to tap on the excitement in 2020. Yet with the extended holiday shopping season stretching from 2019 to 2020, marketers in SEA have their work cut out to stay ahead of the competition and keep fresh with consumers.
Advertisers have to position their brands for an opportunity that is getting bigger with each year. To successfully cut through the clutter during a long holiday season, brands have to tap the right channels and formats as they align to customers’ evolving shopping habits.
1. Native mobile ad formats that will make a difference
Southeast Asians are amongst the most engaged mobile users in the world, a whopping 99% of mobile connections are broadband with 54% making online purchases over mobile in Singapore according to the Digital 2019 report by We Are Social and Hootsuite. The figure is similarly high for other Southeast Asian countries, with 76% making online purchases over mobile in Indonesia, 71% in Thailand, and 58% in Malaysia. Our own research points to a spectacular rise in mCommerce.
As mobile buying becomes the norm, mobile native advertising offers great potential for brands. Native ads are built for commerce and they work across the funnel. But it’s important for brands to choose the right formats to hit their goals during the holiday season.
- Countdown Ads
Countdown ads, for instance, drive a sense of urgency and are a perfect fit for SEA’s holiday shoppers actively looking for deals. Singaporeans, in fact, love their deals! 29% labeled themselves as ‘bargain hunters’, choosing to leverage big sale events like Cyber weekend for their shopping, according to Rakuten Marketing’s “2019 Consumer Holiday Shopping Research”. Native ads promoting flash sales with a countdown timer work well to excite deal-seekers and trigger immediate purchases.
- Mobile Wallet Ads
Mobile wallet ads are effective to bridge the online-offline divide. Brands can use them to deliver digital coupons into their audience’s smartphone wallets – with time and location push notifications. Great when you are looking to engage shoppers close to the point of sale and push up in-store traffic.
- Dynamic Product Ads
We are also seeing retailers gravitating to Dynamic product ads, which allow brands to retarget high-intent users based on past shopping behavior. With features like coupons, marketers can turn their holiday promotion calendar into a “deals feed” that dynamically prospects users. Shoppers, in turn find value and utility in these ads because of deals that save them money!
- VR/AR Ads
VR and AR ads round off this list – immersive, fun, and amazingly useful for the holiday season. Advertisers are exploring extended reality (XR) formats to create a seamless path from inspiration to purchase by helping customers envision products virtually in real-world spaces.
Instead of fighting fellow holiday shoppers in crowded malls, consumers can log in for a virtual, stress-free experience and still make the right decision. As IDC reported, new use cases of AR/VR are emerging in APAC that can deliver more personalized customer experiences, a path retailers can explore to their advantage this season.
2. Tapping into emerging channels
Marketers have the opportunity to tap into emerging digital marketing channels, while still delivering high-impact brand awareness at the top of the funnel. Consumer behavior is evolving as quickly and dramatically as technology. Mobile-first consumers in SEA are spending time very differently, as the sharp rise in the popularity of audio and video streaming services in the region has shown.
Connected TV or CTV is now a preferred method of TV viewing, offering robust targeting opportunities, besides the benefit of reaching Gen Z and Millennials – the biggest consumers of CTV content. Streaming audio also shows great promise this holiday season, with audio ad formats that can drive deep engagement and deliver a personalized ad experience. Brands have to increasingly turn to new types of inventory as traditional channels like linear TV, radio and UGC platforms lose their influence, especially among younger users in SEA.
3. Streamlining the experience, collapsing the funnel
Collapsing the funnel has become an important priority for retailers. Research has shown that nearly half of all advertisers see reducing steps in the path to purchase as most critical to planning commerce campaigns. Users with busy lives want convenience and more immediate experiences when they shop online.
Shoppable content experiences across gift guides, look books and video make life easier for shoppers, can be personalised and accelerate the customer journey. McKinsey found that the transaction rates for shoppable video are 1.6-times higher than they are for static images. Marketers could explore the potential of Affiliate programs to connect with consumers during the discovery and awareness phase.
Easy to scale – and especially relevant given the market fragmentation and cultural diversity locally in SEA – they deliver performance earlier in the shopper journey. For brands, the combination of branded content and affiliate programs can be a powerful opportunity to drive awareness and conversions during the holiday season.
Brands can now leverage new, exciting opportunities to creatively connect with consumers, drive meaningful engagement and deepen brand familiarity – the results of which will extend far beyond the holiday shopping season, into the year ahead.
The article is written by Rico Chan, co-head, APAC, Verizon Media.