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Round-up: Digital Marketing Asia 2018 in Manila highlights industry trends and disruptions for Filipino marketers

More than 250 digital marketers and marketing professionals attended Digital Marketing Asia 2018 held last July 26 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila. Produced by Marketing Magazine, with editions in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, it was the first time that the event was held in the Philippines.

A stellar lineup of experts shared their experiences and case studies and gave game-changing tips and vital information on how one can ride the tide of digital transformation and make it work for their respective organizations.

Cindy Burdette, Head of B2B Sales and Growth for STORM Technologies, started the event with a talk on “How Digital Transformation Can Revolutionize Marketing.” Cindy cautioned that that while constantly flowing information can be a guide in forming marketing campaigns, the marketing professional must not lose sight of the key element that can make him succeed: namely personal interaction with the customer. She emphasized, “The heart of digital transformation is improving experience. We are all consumers. Channels will change, but the way your product interacts with consumers will reflect the way you interact with consumers – and that interaction is something that they will remember.”

Cindy Burdette, Head of B2B Sales and Growth for STORM Technologies

The next speaker, Gary Viray, CEO of Propelrr, pointed out that it is equally important to “Transform Digital Marketing into a Framework that Works” in his talk of the same name. Without such a framework, both marketer and consumer can get lost and not connect with each other. The first step, however, is for the marketer to identify realistically the level of his own digital proficiency. Viray said, “Start with knowing where you are at digital marketing. Are you leading the pack? Are you a digital native or a discoverer? If you don’t catch up with the leaders…there is no option. You either advance or you perish.”

At the same time, regardless of his digital expertise, the marketer must remain sensitive to the level of receptivity of his audience. He exhorted the audience to ask themselves, “Is your level of sophistication applicable to the market you are addressing? What is the maturity of your clients? Are they in the Philippines, Australia, or the US? Do you have to simplify your message so they can connect with it?”

After the 30-miinute break, two more speakers followed before the noontime lunch. John Rubio, Country Director of Facebook, impressed the audience with his talk on “Why Messaging Matters.” Brand promotion through messaging is becoming more popular, on Rubio gives two tips on how marketers can make their campaigns through the chat groups highly successful. First, he pointed out that “great conversations start with visual imagery,” signaling that the days of simply chat and text are numbered. Next, he enjoined the audience to “use the channel to acquire customers by building a trusted relationship. Our customers are talking to us as friends, and not just as sales reps.”

Gen Wang-Lizares, Head of Consumer Experience of Ace Saatchi & Saatchi, gave a talk on “B2B Hacks: Slaying B2B on Digital This 2018.” She said that marketers should not underestimate the Millennial managers in addressing their B2B customers. Aside from the fact that “73 percent of Millennials are involved in the purchasing decision of their companies,” they also have a lot of influence on their senior bosses.

Wang-Lizares said, “People think of the C-suite when they think of B2B. It is true that 64 percent of the C-suite have final authority on purchases, but 81% are influenced by their non-senior staff.”

Gen Wang-Lizares, Head of Consumer Experience of Ace Saatchi & Saatchi

Three more speakers followed after the lunch break.

Nix Eniego, Marketing Head of Sprout Solutions, captivated the crowd by revealing “Instagram’s Marketing Secrets.” He debunked some of the myths usually associated with the social media crowd, such as using innumerable hashtags to attract a large number of Followers, and that Instagram is used mainly by Millennials. He said, “It is fast approaching Facebook status.”

One trend that Eniego highlighted was the creation of engagement pods which are successful in driving engagement. He explained, “Friends like and comment on each other’s posts the first hour after someone has posted. You have to show Instagram that you are not just a one-way commentator.”

Lilit Reyes, Executive Director for Possibilities of the Bent & Buzz / DDB Group, enlivened the crowd with his talk on video marketing. One way to level up is to “make your video behave like a movie, and not an ad. We are not in the viral business to add a longer ad.” Creating a short movie-like video can connect to the crowd because of its insights on the human condition. He said, “Human stories are our business. Let the human truth be the hot button. How do you make your video viral? Provide human insights.”

Lilit Reyes, Executive Director for Possibilities of the Bent & Buzz / DDB Group

Arthur Policarpio, Co-founder and CEO of Mobext Philippines, gave several pointers on how marketers can “Rethink Approach Towards Mobile.”One trend that is catching on is gaming. Another is the emergence of platforms like IGTV that create long-form content. Still another trend to watch out for is “local search which is growing,” said Policarpio. “They are becoming more granular. People may be searching for your business in specific locations. Your website needs to be optimized for local search.”

In using all these tactics, Policarpio says one thing must be kept in mind: “You don’t need to create the hugot (emotional pain) to get great results. Ask yourself: What are people searching for?”

Bernard San Juan III, General Manager of TrueLogic Online Solutions, unraveled the mystery of the ever-evolving search algorithm in “SEO Ranking Factors in 2018: What’s Important and What’s Not.” While acknowledging that Google’s habit of changing its ranking factors 500 times a year can be intimidating to many marketers, he encouraged them to remember that “Google does not buy from you. People buy from you. Make your content as algorithm as compatible as you can but when you build content, you build it for people.”

He said that quality content is “still the single most powerful ranking factor around”, and the traits that make up quality are as follows: “Original, informative, media rich, answers questions, makes the audience better, allows people to interact, and evokes trust.”

Philips Yu, the Head of eWallets of the Philippine Seven Corporation, illustrated the synergy between “Offline 2 Online: Leveraging Offline Assets to Bridge the Online World.” The first hard truth he pointed out was that “clicks may be nice but not necessarily pay the bills, and clients want results.” Analysis is constant to bridge these two worlds. Yu said to take note of what “consumers buy, the bills they pay, where they did remittance, and the paying platforms they used.”

The event closed with a panel on influencer marketing that captivated the crowd the last two hours of the day. The three panelists gave a short case study before addressing the foremost questions on people’s minds such as how one chooses an influencer, and the factors that do create one.

The first panelist, Ace Gapuz, CEO of Blogapalooza, clarified that influencer marketing is simply not inviting an influencer to an event but “working with influencers in communicating the value proposition of your brand: what makes your brand valuable to your market and why should they buy your brand. Influencers amplify your message.”

Panel on Influencer Marketing

Kankan Ramos-Lim, COO of Arriba Digital, also underlined the importance of aligning the influencer with the brand’s overall marketing campaign. She said, “Integrate influencer marketing in all the touchpoints of your customer journey. Take a look at the different phases and align your influencer content. For awareness, tap an influencer who is inspirational. For interest, the influencer may have an educational approach. For desire, use a testimonial.”

Finally, Mina Cruz, Founder and Senior Partner of i55 Talent House, emphasized that influencer marketing has a responsible dimension. She said, “Influencer marketing is also about understanding responsibility and acting with accountability.”

The event ended on a high note with many looking forward to the next event, Analytics Conference 2018. Sponsors for Digital Marketing Asia included adbrix, DMHQ, and Sodexo. For updates on next year’s edition, visit