Tech in check: Manulife Singapore VP of digital marketing Roy Chiu

Coming from multiple facets of digital marketing, Roy Chiu (pictured), vice president of digital marketing at Manulife, has spent 17 years working in the digital world. This includes experience which builds on digital strategy and utilising creativity, leadership and teamwork.

Passionate about performance marketing, Chiu has worked in companies such as Aviva, MySale, Marin Software, Covario, Performics, Arc Worldwide and XM Asia Pacific, to name a few. On top of his client-side and agency experience, Chiu spent about seven years working in ad tech companies to help enterprise marketers adopt SaaS solutions.

Today, immersive media formats such as virtual and augmented reality thrills him due to the promise of engagement it brings. In this edition of Tech in check, he shares with marketing his digital journey, and how he feels about the ever-changing landscape.

Marketing: What was your first digital role like?

It was an account manager role with a local digital agency in 2000. I had a great time and everything I learnt still applies today. I was exposed to web design, multimedia animation, virtual hosting, web application, back-end programming and WAP application for cell phones (today, the standard is native iOS and Android app).

That year, I witnessed key events such as the fear of the world coming to an end caused by the Y2K bug, the iconic Nokia 3310 cell phone being launched (Nokia 3310 was relaunched in 2017), the growing popularity of Napster peer-to-peer file sharing, and the turning point of the dot-com boom.

Even though I was working long hours and technically not savvy, it never felt like I had to drag my feet to work every morning. I had to constantly research, test, and learn on-the-job. I took every opportunity to ask questions and get my hands “dirty”.

Marketing: What was your biggest tech blunder?

I was very focused on performance marketing and overlooked the significance of social media. I had the mindset that Facebook, like other social media networks (Myspace, Friendster, Hi5, LinkedIn, Mixi, Cyworld and many more), was just a passing fad.

Marketing: How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?

I was curious as to what was so appealing about social media – then I started receiving Facebook invites from my peers every week. I decided to join Facebook and started exploring the network, and looked for more use cases (use cases outline a user's point of view on how the user perform tasks on the website and how the website responds to the user requests).

I realised having a passion is not adequate; you need to stay curious all the time.

The power of curiosity will make us better lifelong learners, and be more receptive to new ideas.

Marketing: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?

The digital landscape is ever-changing; yesterday is never the same as today. It is essential we keep up to date on technology trends, consumer behaviour and societal changes.

Our skills and development strategies are not enough to survive tomorrow’s digital transformation. New technology such as artificial intelligence will revolutionise the way we work and our culture and society.

Marketing: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of?

I’m extremely thrilled about immersive media, which refers to virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. It is a massive advancement of engagement; you are immersed into a manufactured reality together with a multi-sensory experience.

Imagine the potential to transform an entire living room into a brand environment which allows consumers to truly engage and interact with the content they are presented with.

Marketing: Any top tips for marketers and brands embracing digital?

Laws of marketing have not changed for centuries, but the delivery mechanisms and strategies are experiencing a paradigm shift. We should learn from startups, and how growth hacking has proven to work well. We need to apply speedy experimentation across marketing channels to identify the most effective and efficient way to grow the business and generate brand uplift.