Twitter announces host of new APAC content deals

New partnerships across live, sports, entertainment and news take the platform to more than 50 in the region.

Twitter has unveiled a raft of new content partnerships throughout Asia-Pacific, further bolstering the social-media platform’s stable of premium video content.

The deals, announced at this year’s All That Matters conference in Singapore, range from short- to longer-form video content across Twitter’s focus areas of sports, news and entertainment. They include the likes of Sony Music, Vice Media and UEFA Champions League on FMA Indonesia.

“We are proud to expand our livestream and video highlights programming that is brand safe and will appeal to the audience and advertisers in APAC,” said Maya Hari, Twitter APAC vice president.

In entertainment, new deals have been signed with Sony Music, providing custom content and behind-the-scenes clips from major music acts; Red Chillies Entertainment in India, producing content with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan; and NBCUniversal, bringing its E! programming onto Twitter.

In sports, Twitter has partnered with FMA Indonesia to provide UEFA Champions League highlights; Fox Sports Asia for Formula One content; and Stadium Astro Malaysia for English Premier League.

Finally in news, new partnerships were announced with Vice Media over content throughout APAC; Network18 in India for video content around major events including India’s budget announcement and elections; and NET TV in Indonesia, which renewed and extended its Twitter partnership around bringing TV programming and bespoke content to the platform.

Kay Madati, Twitter global vice president of content partnerships, said APAC is driving growth for the company. “Our unique and strategic value proposition that positions Twitter as a complement, not competitor to traditional media companies, has delivered great success.”

The new content partnerships take Twitter’s total to more than 50 in APAC.

Source: campaignasia.com; 12 Sep 2018

Social Network Users in Asia-Pacific 2018

Gauging Facebook’s Growth Across the Region

Facebook user growth in Western markets may be tailing off, but that is not the case for Asia-Pacific. In 2018, Facebook’s audience in the region will increase 13.4%—nearly double the rate of worldwide gains—reaching 663.0 million users. India will spearhead this jump, climbing 17.3% and accounting for nearly one-third of users in the region.

Facebook’s growth in India is a result of an expansion of more affordable mobile services. In 2016, 4G LTE mobile internet use exploded in the country after the arrival of mobile operator Reliance Jio and its low-priced data plans. Competitors like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone lowered data costs to stay competitive, which motivated consumers to sign up. Between 2016 and 2018, the percentage of mobile phone internet users grew from 24.0% to 32.3% of the population.

With growing mobile uptake, many of these new internet users also signed up for Facebook to connect with friends and family. New phones coming with Facebook Lite preinstalled was a boon as well. During the same two-year period, Facebook’s share of the population rose from 11.4% to 16.7%. By 2022, continued adoption of mobile internet will further Facebook’s reach to 25.0% of India’s population.

Whereas India represents high-end growth for Facebook, other Asia-Pacific markets are slowing. In Japan, Facebook’s share of social network users will decline between 2018 and 2022, falling from 39.3% to 38.5%. Facebook has struggled to catch up to Twitter and messaging app Line, which built large audiences after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami damaged traditional telecom infrastructure. Twitter’s 280-character limit has not deterred usage in Japan since Japanese requires few characters to communicate complex messages.

For the most part, Facebook’s expansion in Asia-Pacific will be based on the maturation of mobile broadband coverage. For example, user growth in developing Asia-Pacific markets like Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam will outpace Facebook’s worldwide growth of 7.7% in 2018. Together, these countries will add 16.6 million users this year.

Although Facebook’s penetration of Asia-Pacific appears low at 44.5% of social network users, this is due to China’s ban on the platform. Excluding China, Facebook will actually reach 81.2% of social network users in the region.

It’s worth noting that some of Facebook’s growth can be attributed to Facebook Lite. The data-efficient Facebook app reportedly has over 200 million users and remains critical for usage in 2G and 3G areas cross Asia-Pacific. Facebook is looking to replicate its success with the release of Instagram Lite, which arrived in June 2018.

It’s too early to tell what impact Instagram Lite will have, but growth for Instagram in Asia-Pacific will be strong this year, rising 24.6% to 216.9 million users. Increases will be fastest in India (48.3%) and Vietnam (21.3%)—again, driven by improving mobile internet coverage. By the end of 2018, 26.6% of social network users in the region (excluding China) will use Instagram.

Source: emarketer.com; 12 Sep 2018

Messaging Is Back

Mobile messaging is the number one trend that marketers cannot afford to ignore.

Over the past several years, the proliferation of chat apps, SMS, and social messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have largely displaced this more traditional form of online messaging like instant messages and email. In 2016, instant messaging and texting (e.g., SMS and chat apps) were the first things 35% of Americans checked in the morning, according to Deloitte, up from 29% in 2014.

We’ve come a long way since brands dabbled in short message service (SMS) or began exploring communications tied to branded apps. We are in the midst of an undeniable resurgence for one of mobile’s original and most defining functions. It’s a renaissance of messaging.

What’s Old is New Again

We first saw the height of text messaging come into play at the turn of the century. Text messaging grew massively in the 2000s, with TV programs like “American Idol” inviting the public to vote for their favourite contestants via text and then-U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama announcing Joe Biden as his running mate through the use of bulk text messaging.

But even at its peak, text messaging had its challenges, such as SMS charges or the risk of users going over their data limits. Now that unlimited texting and data plans reign supreme, and landline bills are non-existent, “going over” is less of a concern. Additionally, a wave of new channels has emerged to complement SMS, including chatbots and mobile wallets.

And while text messaging continues to power the lion’s share of today’s interactions on mobile, new channels and apps centered on messaging have significantly expanded marketers’ arsenals.

Beginning in 2010, messaging and chat apps began sprouting up and attracting users all over the world. We needn’t look further than the impressive sprawl of WeChat in China, or Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp’s billion-plus users to know that messaging — in all its forms — is here to stay.

All of these channels serve as oxygen that fuels the mobile messaging fire, highlighting that all-important, in-the-moment relationship with the consumer. The brands that are ahead are the ones who have discovered that true personalization is about authentic conversations in the right channels.

Embracing the Renaissance

This renaissance of messaging shows no signs of slowing down. More innovation is on the way as new initiatives like Google’s RCS usher in the next generation of messaging standards, and voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa become more sophisticated to make voice commands a mainstream form of messaging. Additionally, conversational commerce, meaning the use of messaging to market and sell, is a largely untapped opportunity in the U.S. — and a sizable one at that, especially if brands’ reported successes on WeChat in China is any indication.

Here are three ways marketers can embrace this renaissance:

1. Leverage existing infrastructure: Building a chatbot in Messenger or creating a digital loyalty program in Apple Wallet and Google Pay doesn’t require you to build from scratch, and you can ramp up quickly by integrating these services into your cloud platform.

2. Make messaging a part of your mobile engagement strategy — quickly: The proliferation of messaging channels and apps is a blessing and a curse. Each brand needs to be strategic about where to play, which is why building a multi-channel view of the customer, complete with their preferred messaging apps and channels, is critical.

3. Build a 1:1 relationship with consumers: To activate a multi-channel understanding of consumers, marketers need robust CRM capabilities to deliver the right message, at the right time, on the right channel.

Thriving in this golden era of messaging is not as simple as firing off messages. It requires a multi-channel understanding of your customers. This view should include: real-time insights, analytics to measure impact and a comprehensive multi-channel strategy to reach the right customers at the right time.

Source: vibes.com; 4 May 2018

Facebook rolls out Watch video platform to Asia-Pacific

Ad Breaks program expands to ANZ now and Thailand in September, sharing revenue with publishers and creators.

Facebook Watch, the rival to YouTube that the social network launched in the US a year ago, is now available in the rest of the world. Watch exists as a personalised video feed on Facebook and is designed to be a social experience, with users able to see comments other people are making on a show.

“We’re excited to announce that we’re making Facebook Watch available everywhere, giving people in Asia Pacific a new way to discover great videos and interact with friends, creators, and other fans,” said Saurabh Doshi, director of entertainment partnerships for Asia-Pacific in an emailed statement.

Doshi noted expanding Watch’s availability would create new opportunities for creators and publishers in the region, but noted Facebook “still had work to do.” No Asia-Pacific-specific funded content was announced for the launch. Instead, the global announcement highlighted the popularity in the US of shows such as Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith and Huda Boss by beauty mogul Huda Kattan.

But all Page videos are available to be published on Watch and Facebook says its focus will remain on video experiences that connect people. As examples, Facebook pointed out creators from Asia like Ms Yeah with over 3.5 million likes and 4.2 million followers, or How to Dad from New Zealand who has built a community of 1.8 million followers.

While Watch has struggled to gain traction with viewers since its US launch, Facebook head of video Fidji Simon said in a blog announcing the move that the total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased fourteen-fold since the start of 2018.

Source: campaignasia.com; 30 Aug 2018

WhatsApp to start making money from businesses

There has been much speculation about how Facebook might monetise the messaging service since its acquisition in 2014 – with the move coming as Facebook’s own revenue begins to slow.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is finally going to start making some money with new pay-to-use tools that will let businesses talk to customers.

Via the messaging app, companies will be able to send information about products and services, such as boarding passes and delivery dates, as well as providing real-time support to help resolve issues.

WhatsApp – which Facebook bought for £11bn in 2014 – says users will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, and that businesses will pay to send certain messages so they are selective and chats “don’t get cluttered”.

Messages will cost between 0.3p and 7p depending on the country the user is in, with businesses allowed up to 24 hours to respond for free before a charge is imposed.

WhatsApp says messages will remain end-to-end encrypted and that users will be able to block businesses whenever they wish.

The move comes following Facebook’s bombshell second quarter results, which wiped £92bn from its stock market value in one go.

Shares plunged by more than 20% after the social media giant announced its slowest growth in users for over two years, with Facebook expecting its revenue growth to lose speed as users make the most of new options designed to limit advertising, while less profitable overseas markets drive growth.

Facebook claims 2.5 billion people use its apps every month, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

Instagram Stories, which already show ads, is used by around 400 million people, while 450 million use WhatsApp Status.

Around 100 companies have been testing the Status ads feature so far, including Uber and Singapore Airlines, with a full roll-out due next year.

Source: marketingweek.com; 2 Aug 2018

Instagram ad spend growth trounces Facebook in wake of privacy concerns

Instagram’s year-on-year ad spend grew 177 percent – four times that of Facebook – as its owner failed to live up to Wall Street expectations following its Q2 2018 earnings report.

Excluding revenue from its hugely popular photo-sharing app, Facebook reported ad spend growth of 42 percent amounting to $13.23bn (£10.13bn) yesterday which, while on paper sounds reasonable, represented its slowest-growing quarter since it went public.

The report saw Facebook’s stock take a 10% plunge, while the company’s own CFO, David Wehner, admitted that data privacy scandals were a significant contributor, that coupled with other “headwinds”, were likely to impact growth in “high-single-digit percentages” for the remainder of the year.

But while the social network failed to meet the steadfast performance that we’ve come to take for granted, Instagram’s boomed in comparison; impressions on the app rose 209 percent and CPMs (average cost per 1000 impressions) decreased by 10 percent, while in comparison, Facebook’s saw a 70 percent increase in CPMs as ad impressions dropped 17 percent.

But while Instagram is siphoning an increasing amount of ad spend from Facebook, on the scale of things, it still amounts to a relatively small portion. Advertising agency Merkle reports that the photo-sharing app accounted for less than a quarter (23 percent) of spend for the average advertiser bidding on both platforms, while generating 20 percent of ad impressions as that of Facebook, and just nine percent as many clicks as the social network within the quarter.

That didn’t stop BTIG analyst, Rich Greenfield, comment that Instagram had become “an absolute monster” in terms of growth and user engagement, with the photo-sharing app now boasting more than a billion users, having been bought by Facebook for just $715m (£544m) in 2012.

With Instagram roundly dodging any of the collateral impact felt by its parent’s platform in the wake of privacy scandals, the proliferation of fake news, and GDPR potentially being the root cause of its loss of some three million users daily in Europe (despite a global increase of 11 percent), it’s likely Facebook will be leaning on Instagram’s growing contributions for the remainder of the year.

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 26 July 2018

LinkedIn gets on board voice messages to help users better express themselves

LinkedIn has introduced a new voice message function in a bid to give its users more options to have conversations. This includes messages which are up to one minute long, housed in LinkedIn’s messaging platform.

In a blog post, the company explained that the new feature looks to allow its user to message more easily on the go, especially when it comes to explaining longer or more complex ideas. This is without the involvement of typing and editing a message.

It also looks to allow users to better express themselves and allow for greater ease of multitasking. This in turn allows users to better build a personal connection and effectively communicate. It also looks to allow for a user’s tone and personality to come through, which may sometimes “get lost in translation in written communications”, the blog post added.

The new feature is being rolled out on iOS and Android on mobile, as well as on the web, and will be made available globally in the next few weeks.

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 31 July 2018

YouTube tweaks monetisation model in response to ‘adpocalypse’

Social video sharing platform YouTube is rolling out a “channel membership” paid subscription option to its top creators, following criticism that its latest ad policies make it hard for publishers to earn money.

In a model already employed by competitors such as Twitch and Patreon, the platform will let publishers with more than 100,000 fans charge $4.99 a month for access to exclusive content, while those with over 10,000 followers will be able to host live-streamed “premieres” and advertise merchandise beneath their videos.

YouTube updated its advertising policies in the wake of a number of complaints about popular brand ads appearing next to inappropriate content on the site, branding a large portion of videos “unsuitable for advertisers”.

However, this prompted a backlash from YouTube’s video-maker community who called the update the “adpocalypse”, many of which saw their income from advertising fall as a result.

Competitor pressure

The announcement from YouTube comes just days after Facebook launched Instagram TV (IGTV), enabling users to publish vertical videos of up to 60 minutes long on the popular photo-sharing app, in what Marketing Tech reported to be a bid to move in on YouTube’s long-form influencer marketing ad revenue.

While YouTube may have reacted to early rumours in launching its membership options today, it’s more likely the platform has been reconsidering its monetisation strategies in recent months in order to catch up with aforementioned rivals, Twitch and Patreon.

However, the launch of IGTV may have thrown a spanner in this plan, attracting influencers currently active on both YouTube and Instagram to consolidate their efforts onto the app, which may eventually result in a migration of some of its key creators.

Speaking to BBC News, editor of YouTube magazine TenEighty, Alex Brinnand, said; “Creators are largely in favour of the direct-to-creator monetisation options, as it offers them higher revenue from people who are passionate about watching their content.

“This is something we’ve seen on crowd-funding platforms for a long time now, so it is really interesting to see the online video industry adopt this revenue model.”

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 22 Jun 2018

Chances are, your brand isn’t ready for WeChat 4.0

Brands and their agency counterparts need to keep pace with WeChat’s evolving digital ecosystem. Here’s what the latest changes mean and how to make the most of them.

If brands and their agency counterparts aren’t keeping pace with WeChat’s evolving digital ecosystem, they are forfeiting valuable opportunities to create consumer relevance.

Just last week, WeChat’s subscription account display improved from a stacked list of accounts to a content feed.

Here’s some other recent changes:
• Look, an inventory, technical and distribution partner for fashion KOLs claimed that its most successful KOLs can move anywhere between 5 million and 100 million RMB of stock per month through their individual WeChat stores.
• 跳一跳 (Jump, Jump), a mobile game within WeChat, attracted 400 million players within three days of launch.
• Netease Music migrated playlists from its app to its WeChat mini-program.
• Tencent Video opened a WeChat mini-program that allows viewers to watch the latest Game of Thrones episodes.

The above examples beg a simple question: What’s happening to WeChat?

The answer is deceptively simple, but the implications are far-reaching. WeChat’s evolving. It’s now a fully-fledged digital ecosystem, enabling its billion-strong monthly active user base to access digital experiences and services, not just content.

To understand the changes taking place, let’s first backtrack a little to WeChat’s humble beginnings in 2011.

From WeChat 1.0 to WeChat 4.0

WeChat’s development has been through four distinct phases.

The first phase, WeChat 1.0, connected users with users. Users chat with, call and transfer files between one another through individual or group chats.

The second phase, WeChat 2.0, connected users with information through WeChat Official Accounts. These official accounts, including subscription accounts and service accounts, periodically send users long-form articles, memes or notifications.

In February 2014, WeChat was turned on its head as its ‘Red Packet’ (红包) function was unveiled at CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala, with 1.2 billion red packets delivered over the festive period. This represented the dawn of WeChat 3.0, which connected users with payments.

WeChat’s integration with payments didn’t stop at peer-to-peer payments through red packets stuffed with virtual money. In the blink of an eye, WeChat extended its payment function to utilities, mobile phone credits, and offline purchases.

WeChat 3.0 was a significant turning point in WeChat’s development. It transitioned WeChat from a social media giant to a ‘super app’, commanding around 30% of Chinese internet users’ time online.

However, WeChat’s most significant change came in January 2017 when it lifted the veil off its mini-program. This program allows an application smaller than 10 megabytes to run instantly within WeChat, removing the need to download and install an app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It may sound small, but apps smaller than 10 megabytes can achieve a lot: order a taxi, have take-out delivered to your door, rent a shared bike, purchase a pair of sneakers, and watch your favourite vlogger’s livestream. Like its ‘red packets’ in 2014, mini-programs heralded a significant shift in how Chinese users interact with WeChat.

Within the space of the next 18 months, WeChat implemented a new format of Moments Ads (advertisements now presented as an enlarged ‘card’, instead of the previous text-image-link format), WeChat Search (an internal search engine across content on Moments, in articles from official accounts, related mini-programs, stickers, music or novels), and Mini-Games.

An enormous amount of change, compressed into a relatively short time frame. This is the fourth stage of WeChat’s development, WeChat 4.0, which connected users to a full digital ecosystem. Messaging, search, entertainment, gaming, payments, e-commerce, mobility and lifestyle services can now all be completed within WeChat.

Source: campaignasia.com; 25 June 2018

Facebook just secured Premier League rights for the next four years

Facebook won the rights to stream all 380 Premier League soccer matches per season from 2019 to 2022 in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, in a deal worth about £200 million ($264 million).

This is likely Facebook’s highest profile sports streaming deal to date — the platform has previously streamed Major League Baseball (MLB) games and World Surf League (WSL) competitions among other sporting events — because the Premier League is the world’s most watched sports league.

Facebook’s acquisition of the Premier League rights represents how digital platforms are contributing to cord cutting by increasingly curating premium sports content that has historically only been available on linear TV.

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Source: businessinsider.com; 6 Jul 2018