What agencies expect from EDB

Upon news of the Economic Development Board (EDB) looking to step in and raise standards for the digital and marketing industry, agencies are looking to see if EDB can help ease the industry's oldest issues: Education of the masses, talent and funding.

Marketing spoke to several digital agency leads and how much support the government will be able to offer is the key question most had.

Spreading Awareness

Leonard Tan, CEO of PurpleClick Media said that education of the masses is primary for the nation to be the central hub for digital marketing in Asia.

While the industry has grown rapidly, it hasn't reached maturation point, said Tan.

Singapore lags far behind the likes of Japan and Korea which have incorporated digital with traditional media more seamlessly. Also, while Singapore is still ahead of nations such as Philippines and Indonesia for now, digital uptake in both nations is showing exponential growth.

Tan added that further emphasis is needed in education, hiring and adoption which are three key factors which could boost performance and be an excellent form of assistance in

For instance, Tan paints a picture of how a lack of education is affecting the industry as a whole.

"There have been vendors who offer misleading advice that confuse clients; and confused by the technical jargon, clients end up relying on price to make investment decisions. We hope all client marketers, together with agencies will be able to learn, appreciate and understand digital advertising to truly reap the maximum benefits for their businesses," he added.

Also, sometimes digital is far more easily embraced by people who want to jump on the bandwagon, without proper holistic strategies that are customised for individual businesses. This ultimately leads to substantial wastage in marketing dollars, added Tan.

Talent- local vs. foreign

Keith Timimi, chairman of VML Qais talked about talent as a key issue.

"The EDB wants to build more Economic Value Added (EVA) industries to strengthen and diversify Singapore's economy. EVA consists of more revenue (and therefore more tax) and more employment," he said.

And since digital industries are growing rapidly, it makes a lot of sense for the EDB to seek to consolidate what Singapore already is - a regional hub, and increasingly a global one.

According to Timimi, to do that it needs to raise standards and increase the pool of talent flowing into the market.

"We are optimistic as both things have been happening, although bringing in talent is getting harder as the MoM starts to reduce the number of EPs  and S-Passes in circulation."

"It will be interesting to see how the Government handles the conflict between the need to bring in more talent while simultaneously reducing the total inflow of foreigners."

Cost issues

Another area of concern is cost for digital agencies to operate in the market and there are far more questions from agencies than answers.

Local agency Blugrapes' founder, Ryan Lim said it would be helpful if the EDB defrays costs to encourage adoption in a wide scale.

"Will the EDB provide funding or typical tax relief? Or will they be providing new facilities and exposure to local industries? What about addressing the issue of talent development?" he asked.

"Hopefully this time around, the survey will be more than just study trips that EDB is so used to having for other industries," he said.