Category Archives: Marketing

I had a dream of Stand-out and Blend-in banners.

I had a dream.. I was walking through my office corridor and noticed 2 banners arguing with each other. One banner was noticeably Flashy, out spoken and I called him Stand-out. Another was a plain-jane, soft-spoken, who I almost went unnotice everytime I bumped into him. I called him blend-in.
Stand-out argued..
“I’m better looking than you. I always stand out among the crowd and get everyone notice. I am able to repeat myself many time through animation loop. I have these flashy colour that align with the brand and catch the audience attention. And you know what? I’m expandable, sometimes I float and I pop out… uninvited…”
Blend-in replied angrily..
“So what? I’m stealth. I can blend in to the party without anyone notice. I don’t feel out of place and I can be quiet yet sound geniune. Some call me Native.. I prefer people call me Ninja… And guess what? It works.. People come to me and they don’t feel intimidated. (whisper aside) Though sometimes they feel cheated when they saw my “sponsored by”, “promoted” under garment.”
And they continued to argue..
“I need to be prominent to make my brand known… ” Stand-out said
“Nobody clicks on you any more. Only 0.05% in the world click on you” Blend-in argued
“You are a cheat, pretending to be someone you are not”
“You are too intrusive and rude”
Noticing the comotion starting to turn angry, almost into a fight, I shouted “Wait!! Let me be the judge and resolve this!”
“Both are right and wrong.. Let me advise you how you can better banners”
Both turn their heads and glanced at me, waiting for the advice.
Looking at Stand-out, I advised
“1. Don’t be intrusive. You may be eye-catching but you still need to be relevant to your audience. You need to able to entertain them and tell a story. Let them have a positive experience about you, not just showing them the latest promotions. In these ways, you will avoid those Ad-blockers standing at the front gate too.
2. And remember, people are getting sick of you so 99.9% will not clicks. So don’t measure clicks. Focus more on how to convince them with your stories. Audience attention span is getting shorter now. Think how your message can influence them and let them be engage within the short time span.
3. And don’t go to all the party. Some are totally irrelevant to you. Know who is in the party and tailored your conversation accordingly. And don’t overstay the party. Just remember, there are other Stand-Out banners out there competing for attention.
Just remember: Stay relevant, entertain and useful.
And now for you, Blend-in…
1. Even if your natural instinct is to blend in to the environment, please make known to audience that you are being paid to be present so audience will not feel cheated.
2. Avoid tricky opener like click-baits. People will click once but will avoid it all together. Not good for the whole industry.
3. You may not stand out among the crowd. But the advantage is that audience will trust you more. You look friendlier. So don’t abuse the trust. Same points: Stay relevant, entertain and useful.
4. And you may not able to tell the whole story so please have a landing page ready to continue the conversation.”
To both of them,
“And the last advice is that you guys should be working together. Using blend-in to start the conversation, let them get comfortable about the brand. And then follow by Stand-out, who can continue to stories on how the brand can benefit the audience. And if you don’t, there are others like videos and social ready to replace you”
Looking at each others with tears rolls into their eyes.. and they hug each other.
And I wake up.. Happy Valentines Day.

Hyperconnected Asia Showcase: Internet of Things in Action

Hyperconnected Asia Showcase
According to Wikipedia,

“Hyperconnectivity is a term invented by Canadian social scientists Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman, arising from their studies of person-to-person and person-to-machine communication in networked organizations and networked societies.[1] The term refers to the use of multiple means of communication, such as email, instant messaging, telephone, face-to-face contact and Web 2.0 information services”

The term was coined back in 2005, and fast forward 10 years later,  “Hyperconnectivity” has never been so right, except we shall now add “machine-to-machine communication” to the mix, and of course we now give it a sexier name: Internet of Things (IoT).

Last Friday, my company SAP kicked off Hyperconnected Asia Showcase in Singapore, showcasing some of the real life examples of IoT applications across different industries from Healthcare, to Sports to Retail  and I’m privileged to get involved as one of social ambassador.

Let me do a quick round up on some of the showcases:

1. Connected Logistic: Hamburg Port Authority

Most truck drivers are paid by per mile or per trip which means more time on the road will result in better pay for them. Good news for truck drivers in Hamburg, who now can make more trips through better traffic and shipping information.  Trucks are fitted with tablets and link up to Hamburg’s Port Logistic System, which supplies traffic information, available parking lots and shipping information. So rather than waiting for hours in traffic, they can divert to new route, or to the nearest parking lot for a good rest. And what’s more? Transport orders can be tracked by freight companies in real time.

Check out the video here:

2. Connected Sports: Germany Football Association uses IoT and Big Data

Also known as 12th man that help Germany to win World Cup, SAP Match Insights helps Germany team in preparation and post analyses of the matches during the World Cup in Brazil. In practice games, players wear wireless sensors to relay geospatial and performance data in real time, though these are not allow in real match, due to safety reasons (Mourinho, sorry!).  Since winning the World Cup last year,  many clubs have since taken notice of the technology, including none other than former Brazil’s former national soccer team coach Luiz Felips Scolari.

SAP Match Insights

Check out the video here:

3. Connected Smart Vending Machine: Look mum, no coins.. 

Debuted in SAP SAPPHIRE NOW in 2014, this smart vending machine has made way to Asia and now sit comfortably in SAP Singapore office.

Using NFC mobile wallet for payment, the smart vending machine is able to personalize offerings, special offers, link to social profile, and even  send “gifts” to facebook friends. In addition, it’s machine to machine (M2M) connected  to provide real-time information on timing of purchase, stock outs, product movement, machine down-times, thereby increasing efficiency and revenue for retailers.

I’m not sure if i will send a can of Coke to my friends on Facebook, but one thing for sure: This thing will sell well in Japan!

SAP Smart Vending Machine

Further reading on Smart Vending machine, read here and here or check out this video demo:

4. Connected Health: App for personalized health management

Internet of Things is revolutionizing healthcare, from fitness, to remote health monitoring and even smart diapers.  SAP and Roche created a mobile app  to enable doctors to follow the progress of diabetes patients via a dashboard on their tablets or computers in real time. Any changes to patient’s indicators, health experts will be alerted for further action.

Connected Health


Check out video here:

5. Connected Consumer: Retailers are watching you

With connected devices and smartphones and using of In-store technologies such as beacons, retailers can now monitor floor traffic, identify customers and provide personalised shopping experience using shopper buying habits, preferences, and behaviors all in real time. (Orwell is smiling)

My wish list? Retailers that instantly recognize me as a guy waiting for my wife to done with shopping, and provide me with a charging station for my battery-depleted iPhone, and something that require no IoT, a comfortable sofa chair please!


For more information on Internet of Things and how IoT is transforming industry, do sign up for Hyperconnected Asia Virtual Forum on 18 March, 2015.

A public announcement that may worth more than a million

announcement3Singapore’s public transport company SMRT (Singapore Mass Rapid Transit) has a long history of bad publicity from frequent train breakdownever-increasing fare hike (with zero co-relation to the up and down of oil price), to vandalism due to lack of security, to even the negative story of chartered train by a  school (I have to admit that I see nothing wrong in offering chartered train to students). Despite numerous public campaigns to improve corporate image and customer satisfaction,  it’s seems that their corporate communication team are still having a uphill task. In recent survey, Customer Satisfactory Index of MRT continue to slide by 6% year on year.

But wait… drum rolls.. A young train driver comes to the rescue.

Recently, he got the internet talking about the teasing public announcements he has made in one of the boring Thursday morning on North-South Train.

“If you’re planning to leave anything behind, please make sure it’s something I can either use or sell. Otherwise, please remember to take all your belongings with you,”

“Since its a Thursday today, what you do today will determine whether tomorrow will be a ‘thank goodness it’s Friday’ or ‘oh goodness, it’s Friday’.”

For those of you who have not boarded SMRT train before, the public announcements are usually pre-recorded with perfect but monotonous voice, so having a real person making announcement is quite a big deal, let alone with some cool bites. Luckily, one passenger recorded the video and through Yahoo Singapore, this story got viral and won praises from netizens.

Hopefully, it’s not another stunt staged by a social media agency. From the subsequent official press releases (yawn…) here and here, it seems to be a genuine case of a driver just wanting to do something special and add spices to his work. It also revealed that the driver Tan Ming Hui did seek clearance from his supervisors before performing the stunt.

With all buzz about “humanising the brand”, “customer experience”, “employees empowerment”, this is one genuine example of how a small act can have big impact on customer and brand experience. I’m sure the act of this front line staff generate more positive vibes than all the marketing and PR campaigns that the corporate communication did in the year.

So are there some genuine lessons that companies can learn here?

(This is a mock announcement video  recorded during the press conference)


Blame clicks, not banner ads. You are what your measure

click2-smallBanner ads have been in existence since the Jurassic (measured in Internet Age) and in recent years, these poor old ancient creatures have often been mocked at, especially from the new kids on the block, notably Native Advertising.  This article from Hubspot pointed out 10 Horrifying Stats about Display Ads and here are some interesting few:

  1. Only 8% of internet users account for 85% of clicks on display ads (and some of them aren’t even humans!). (Source: comScore
  2. The average clickthrough rate of display ads is 0.1%. (Source: DoubleClick
  3. You are more likely to get a full house while playing poker than click on a banner ad.(Source: Solve Media

And there is epidemic spread of “Banner Blindness” sickness spread among Internet users, with few studies (Here is one by Nielsen Norman Group) conducted using eye-tracking research have suggested that users tend to ignore contents that remotely look like advertisement.

Despite number of bashing,  like never-say-died cockroaches, it seems that banner ads are all well and thriving and seems still million years before extinction. According to emarketer, display advertising for programmatic still account for bulk of online spend (Beside Search) and is projected to reach US$32.6 Billion worldwide. So why we are crying foul of banner ads not working, yet at the same time, marketers are still heavily invested in them?

Measure the right metrics.

If you look at stats from the Hubspot article, most of them blamed banner ads base on one single metric:

Clicks or click through rate (CTR)

And this is where the fault lies. First of all, you need to asked is clicks or CTR the metrics you measure the success of your campaign?  If you are running direct response ads with main aim is for users to click on the banner and drive traffic, measuring clicks will be totally fine. But if your objective to drive top level metrics such as brand awareness or favorability, then click is definitely the wrong measurement.

Don’t Measure Click Through Rate

First of all, stop using Click Through Rate (CTR) as the metric to measure your campaign success.  CTR doesn’t really tell how (un)successful your campaign is. It doesn’t tell how many people your message has reached or how many people responded. It just show Clicks over Impressions in percent, that’s all. And it’s usually hover around 0.1%. Anything 0.1% is going to be questioned by anyone (What about that 99.9%?)   Use CTR solely for your optimization of your campaign to help you to increase clicks for direct response campaign.

Measure Viewability and Engagement

And if your campaign objective is mainly conversion or action, rely on clicks may lead you to no where. In this study by Comscore,  ad viewability and engagement (hover time) are strongly correlated with conversions, while clicks have lowest correlation with conversion. Viewability is defined as served impression in which a minimum of 50 percent of pixels are in view on a user’s screen for a minimum of one consecutive second (IAB). Engagement, in this case, is pertaining to rich media banners and measured by hover time or Dwell Rate: The percentage of users exposed to a given piece of rich media content or advertising who interact with that content moving their cursors over it (but not clicking). (IAB)

Measure Viewthrough

A study shows that a frequency of 7-10 banner exposure will result in 28% increase in sales volume over control group. So it’s rare that those who click will convert immediately within a user session. So it’s also important to measure viewthrough, which indicates conversion after users has viewed the banners (even if they have not clicked).

Measure Unique Reach and Share of Voice

Beside impression, which is the most common measurement for display banners,  another metric you should consider is unique reach. If you or your media agency has done due diligence to ensure most of your display ads are expose to your target audience, then we can measure the share of voice among your target audience.

Share of voice (%): No. of target audience your banner display uniquely reached / Total target audience.

Measure Brand Lift

Many of display banners objective are really simple: To cut the clutter and get the message across to your target audience, whether the objective is for brand awareness or for perception change. And measure that, you will need to rely on brand study:  Either through Pre/Post survey or Control/Test survey to measure brand lift.

Ultimately, it’s the Creative. S&%^$

Ultimately, even if you have the best media strategy, plan and placement, it’s still the creative that ultimately determine your campaign effectiveness. One interesting study by Dynamic logic back in 2009 (What 2009!?) determined that it’s bad creative that makes display ads ineffective and good creatives have result in uplift of brand awareness and purchase intent. And do check out some of their recommendation of better performance creatives. Here is another interesting (but contrarily) article on best practices you should ignore.

So if you still obsessed with clicks and CTR, it’s time to think again. Well, this excellent video from Adobe sum it all up.

Inspiration from Spikes Asia 2014

IMG_1754Sometimes it’s good to just take a day break and get out of the usual work routine. I’m a B2B technology marketer and it’s a well known fact that B2B marketing is not as sexy as B2C; Think demand generation, pipeline building, account base marketing, thought leadership content marketing, and combine them with  in-memory computing, software as a service, omni-channel experience, predictive analytics, these sort of make-you-smart jargons… so some creativity juice sprinkle into my daily work will make my eyes spark.

Spending a 1/2 day at Spikes Asia 2014, did provide me with some sort of inspiration. I’m not talking about the full day seminar or forum, but those creatives that were on displayed, It’s just a shame that an entrance ticket to the hall as Spikes Delegate cost a whopping S$1250 (I’m lucky to have my agency sponsoring my ticket) and will be great these works can be shared to the public.

I walked around many of the creative entries on exhibit and here are the top 10 that caught my attention:

1. Lancôme Advanced Génifique – A Daughter’s Greatest Fear

Client: Lancôme
Agency: Publicis Singapore

“You just look like your daughter!” Tapping on daughter’s greatest fear but mother’s greatest compliment.

2. The Gift Box by Crown

Client: Crown Relocations / Salvation Army
Agency: Leo Burnett Hong Kong

Smart idea. When moving house, it’s also a time to give away many of the junks in the house. So Crown provides 2 boxes: One to “keep” and one to “give”. The “keep” boxes are delivered to new address, while the “gift” boxes, will go straight to Salvation Army.


3. How a Newspaper helped stop an epidemic

Client: Mawbima Newspaper
Agency: Leo Burnett Sri Lanka

To help fight against dengue fever, Mawbima published  mosquito-repellant newspaper – a newspaper where all the letters coated with citronella essence, a highly effective natural repellent.


4. Omo – Tablet v.s. Outdoor

Client: Unilever
Agency: Lowe, Saigon, Vietnam

Dirt is Good is that Big Idea for Omo and Big Idea has that ability to morph into different forms: One of which is this piece of work, by comparing the electronic gadgets that kids obsessed and outdoor.

So when was the last time your kids play hide and seek?

5. Omo Play Bottle

Client: Unilever
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Singapore

Another campaign idea build on top of “Dirt is Good”. This time round, turning bottle into  ‘bucket & digger”.

6. Share my Dabba – A small sticker trying to make a difference

Agency: McCann Worldgroup India
Client: Happy Life Welfare, The Dabbawala Foundation

A share sticker that allow customers to share untouched-uneaten food in their dabbas (lunchboxes).

7. The Digital Fashion Critic – Colourmatic

Client: AS Colour
Agency: FCB New Zealand

A machine which rates your outfit out of 100 and provides expert tips how to look best. Probably I should have this at home.


8. Stop One Stop them All

Client: WWF
Agency: Leo Burnett Australia

At the top of pyramid is the consumers. Stop the demand and stop the killing. Simple.

9. Neuro PS – Kindergarten, Primary School

Client: Neuro PS
Advertising Agency:Grey, Beijing, China

My favourite. Take a few more second to get it, but once you get it, you just thought “This is brillant!”.

10. Zhang Xiao Quan – Cut Above

Client: Zhang Xiao Quan
Agency: Y&R, Shanghai, China

Meat doesn’t look more beatiful than this. Creating a Chinese landscape art using meat.  Btw, Zhang Xiao Quan sell cutlery, not meat.

Check out the winners here. And as you can see, none of the above make it to the “Gold” or “Grand Prix” category. So that’s the different in opinion between professional jury and layman I guess.

Bringing Programmatic Media Buying In-house. Is the time right?


P&G’s not so recent announcement of buying majority of their Media programmatically,inhouse got me ponder a question to media agency industry: With the continue growth of programmatic investment, is brand moving (or at least thinking of) their media buying in-house through setting up of internal trading desk? I don’t have the any statistic with me though anecdotal evidences did suggest that this may be the case. Coincidentally, I recently did know of one financial company investing heavily to beef up their internal capabilities on Paid Search and Programmatic.

With the maturity of the ad-tech and brands getting more savvy in programmatic buying, I’m sure the reasons of moving in-house are enticing and warrant a long term thinking. Just to name a few potential advantages:

Continue reading Bringing Programmatic Media Buying In-house. Is the time right?

A quick recap on ATS Singapore 2014

It’s interesting that SAP Development Day coincide with some of the Advertising Industry Event this week, starting with ATS Singapore 2014 (Don’t ask me the meaning of the abbreviation) on Monday, Ad Tech 2014 on Tues/Wed and World Federation of Advertisers Meeting (A full-day sharing session with various marketers in the industries, and no, it’s not a full-day bashing sessions on agencies. More on that later :)) on Thursday.

Courtesy of SAP Programmatic Platform Vendor DataXu, I managed to attend the ATS Singapore 2014. The ATS event gathered the industry players in the programmatic advertising space, with key topics surrounding jargons such as “programmatic”, “real-time bidding (RTB)”, “Demand Side Platform (DSP)”, “Data Management Platform(DMP)”.

Continue reading A quick recap on ATS Singapore 2014

Selling Cloud by not Selling Cloud – Huh?

Recently, I bumped into a blog post by Laurie McCabe, pointing out 5 things SAP needs to do to make simple real. To quote one of points in the article:


Stop saying SAP is ‘the’ cloud company

Unfortunately, this is a statement SAP executives made numerous times at the event, which, as I tweeted, had heads exploding at the likes of Salesforce and NetSuite! While SAP is aggressively moving to the cloud, it is getting there much later than these pure-play, born on the cloud companies. In addition, what’s the upside of even trying to stake this claim this late in the game? Though the puck is certainly moving to the cloud, survey after survey suggests that a hybrid IT environment will be the norm for most companies for a good long while. Positioning its ability to give customers choice is a much more believable and viable path for SAP.


Eyebrows rose or a glimpse of smile?! I’m not sure if we are 100% agree with what she said, though I do see her point of view.

Here are my thoughts:

Continue reading Selling Cloud by not Selling Cloud – Huh?

No Free Lunch: Amplify your content through Paid Channel

With all the focus surrounding Pull Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, many times Paid Media (banners, advertising) seems so “uncool”. In the world of inbound, we love our content to be organic searchable and viral spreadable. We crossed-finger that our content will be read and retweeted, and salivated by thousand fans. However realistically, a quick look at our omniture traffic shows that 70% of SAP visitors never go beyond 2nd pages, and industry study shows that live span of twitter post is less than a coffee break (18 minute to be precise). As marketers, of course we love to create that OREO moment but, anecdote evident suggest that this type of “Oscar Award” kind of campaigns happen only once in blue moon and more often than not, we still need to spend some $ to ensure we maximise our reach to target audience.

Continue reading No Free Lunch: Amplify your content through Paid Channel

IMC Forum: A topic on Agency Trading Desk

Recently, I attended the IMC Forum organised by WFA, which various brands (clients) get together for a session talking about various marketing topics.

Continue reading IMC Forum: A topic on Agency Trading Desk