Rethink advertising in the digital era: SingTel

Anthony Shinner: "What we are talking about now is how to create an integrated package of advertising that actually speaks to the customers we are going after in different ways and at different times

Anthony Shinner: “What we are talking about now is how to create an integrated package of advertising that actually speaks to the customers we are going after in different ways and at different times

In the brave new digital world, SingTel Advertising offers retailers a diversified portfolio of mobile, digital, IPTV and direct advertising platforms as well as unique marketing solutions enhanced by rich data insights. Anthony Shiner, Chief Revenue Officer of SingTel Group Digital L!fe, shares with Sharon Tian how retailers can reach out to their segmented customers at the right place and at the right time. 

The average consumer sees between 3,000 and 5,000 advertisements on any given day. And that is no exaggeration, says Anthony Shiner, Chief Revenue Officer of SingTel Group Digital L!fe.

“People say ‘surely not’, but just think about every bus that you pass, buildings you walk by, taxis that drive past, the trains you travel in, every web page that you go to, the computer and the mobile phone that you access, the TV shows and the large amount of video content you enjoy. Every single time you are looking, you are actually being influenced by something out there.” 

The marketing environment has changed rapidly and dramatically — and retailers should take note. The Internet has moved out of the computer into the palm of the hand. The eyeballs have gone from what is on TV to mobile screens.

Shiner shares another observation – a change less dramatic but nonetheless with similarly significant impact. “The way that people shop is fundamentally changing. People used to have a need to go to the shops and speak with a sales person; nowadays it’s a much more complex and complicated process – different consumer segments shop in different ways and there are different ways to purchase.

“The local shop competes with the international multinational retailer. In many cases, if I go to a shop and a product is out of stock, I can get it quicker online than from the local store,” he adds.

Therein lies the big challenge for retailers and advertisers, and a unique opportunity for SingTel, says Shiner, who shares that Group Digital L!fe was formed in 2012 when SingTel saw that as Asia’s leading communications group, it had distinctive assets and the expertise to be a game-changer in the digital marketing frontier.

Shiner explains that SingTel is dominant in the mobile business, has extensive customer touch points across a wide spectrum of multimedia and ICT solutions including voice, data and video services over fixed and wireless platforms, and deep customer knowledge in the digital arena.

Group Digital L!fe was established to drive SingTel’s efforts and focus on opportunities in mobile video, digital advertising and big data analytics. And now SingTel is turning its attention to the retail sector which can benefit significantly from its portfolio of digital marketing platforms and early investments in technological innovations.

“How do we prepare retail businesses for the shift and how do we help position them?

“We often talk about how people go from online to offline or the other way around, and the ‘clicks & mobile’ strategy. Do people really understand what that means? Even though retailers behave like they do, they do not often take that thinking and behaviour to the front of their businesses.”

New thinking

Shiner contends that in the new digital marketing environment – technological developments have created brand-new opportunities for advertising on IPTV, digital, direct marketing and mobile marketing platforms – and a lot of new thinking needs to be in place.

“There is some great research that shows that trying to stand out in one platform actually doesn’t work anymore, just as trying to advertise on TV alone only misses the entire market and trying to advertise just in the newspapers unfortunately does not cut the deal.”

Integrated advertising

Shiner continues: “What we are talking about now is how to create an integrated package of advertising that actually speaks to the customers we are going after in different ways and at different times.

“The brand owner, the marketer, the advertiser are all asking for slightly different things. They want to know how to reach people in a different way. If I am a content creator, I am interested in how to speak to people interested in my content. If I am an advertiser, I want to know who my customers are, where’s the best place to put the ad, and when is the best time to speak to that customer.”

The way digital technology itself is growing is going to frame the evolution of digital marketing too, says Shiner. The way people communicate is also going to change, shaped by the development of digital and communications devices.

“In this very complex and fragmented world, how do we connect our clients, our customers and service providers together in a particular place, and that place could be a digital wall, an app, a home page, a user group, inSing.com, SingTel mio TV, or it could be platforms that we don’t yet know,” says Shiner.

 

A major issue for retailers today is how to remain relevant when shopping behaviour has shifted from physical shopping to virtual shopping and the pre-buying product research behaviours of consumers are different from what they were fi ve years ago.

A major issue for retailers today is how to remain relevant when shopping behaviour has shifted from physical shopping to virtual shopping and the pre-buying product research behaviours of consumers are different from what they were fi ve years ago.

Highly targeted, very specific audiences

“Today, we have an increasing number of products and platforms. We don’t necessarily try to advertise to more people. In fact, we advocate advertising to fewer people but to be very, very specific about whom you are targeting and to be sure that you are actually talking to the audience you are going after, rather than wasting money trying to talk to everybody.

“I can put an ad on a TV channel to be in front of huge numbers of people but actually if I put the ad in the wrong place and at the wrong time, I am actually missing the specific audience I want to go after.”

Shiner contends that retailers and advertisers today need a balance of TV, traditional media and new-age media such as digital platforms and mobile, but “if they do not bring them together successfully they are going to miss the boat”.

SingTel Advertising offers a strong proposition as the integrator of a diversified portfolio of services and platforms for digital marketing, bringing a unique value to retailers and advertisers — it leverages its knowledge of different advertising platforms and knowledge of the modern-day consumers to help clients build integrated ad packages that reaches the target audience at the right place and right time.

“For example, SingTel mio TV is an outstanding platform with different Chinese content, Indian content, sports content, each bringing consumer characteristics and segments that are traditionally much harder to find.

“We have other outstanding digital assets, such as HungryGoWhere, inSing.com and they are all very strong digital players – No. 1 or 2 in their market segments. And some of those we have translated into the mobile space, like AMPed mobile music and HungryGoWhere.

“More ‘traditional’ products like advertising on bill envelopes, inserts, location-based SMS … they all provide different ways to talk to someone and their consistency across the platforms is more likely to drive message retention.”

Addressing retailers’ challenge

A major issue for retailers today is how to remain relevant when shopping behaviour has shifted from physical shopping to virtual shopping and the pre-buying product research behavioursof consumers are different from what they were five years ago.

From its experience of selling mobile phones, SingTel is aware of the huge challenge for retailers. In the past, people would do some online research on the mobile phones and then go into the shop to purchase. Nowadays it is a mix. Some people go into the shop and then go home to purchase online; some research online but purchase from the shop.

“As a retailer, how do I cope with so many different ways of actions? The key question is how do I stay relevant to the customers who have purchased from me before, and show them I can meet their shopping needs today?

“We say it is through understanding how your customer behaves. And SingTel can help you understand how your customer behaves and the best ways to talk to your customer.”

Differentiation and insights driven by data analytics

Shiner explains that SingTel’s strength is from its understanding of a huge customer base and knowing how to leverage the shift to digital, and specifically mobile, to benefit retailers and advertisers.

SingTel has acquired Amobee, a digital advertising business that uses data insights and the understanding of customers’ online behaviour to provide a platform for advertisers to buy effective advertisement spots in almost any mobile and digital platform in the countries where it operates. “The key is we have built customer insights into the platform so that advertisers are not just buying ad spots but buying effective, specific-time spots,” says Shiner.

“And that’s the big difference – allowing the advertiser to be very specific in targeting their target audience.”

SingTel also has DataSpark, its data analytics subsidiary, with the capability to analyse data from many channels – online, social, Web, in-store – to detect new consumer trends and offer useful insights to retailers and mall operators.

An ROI approach

“We are seeing more and more that conversations about advertising budgets today are shifting away from ‘How much money do I have to spend’ to ‘What type of return on investment can I expect?’

“Nobody is in a better position to answer the question than us. No other platform owner has the breadth of product platforms – mobile, digital, TV and traditional, can provide insights about the different platforms and can create packages that meet the ROI objectives of advertisers,” says Shiner.

“We are in mobile; we run pay-TV channels; we have the traditional billing inserts and eDMs; we have SMS and location-based services. We have all these things coming together in one place underpinned by a knowledge base that doesn’t exist anywhere else. That’s what we do that is special, and the way we do it depends on the client’s needs.”

“Most importantly, that personalised and customised solution that we are offering isn’t available from anyone else.”

 Links to other SingTel stories in the issue:

Effective ad campaigns to woo the new-age consumer 

Get Reach Quick – via diversified digital platforms 

Creating beautiful online stores using Shopify