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Digital content makes or breaks it


Eleanor Modesto

MANILA, Philippines—A movie without a story will surely bomb at the box office, in the same manner a TV commercial without a big idea will always be at the mercy of the remote control.

Where’s the beef? The question hard-to-please people always ask also applies to digital media. Form can never replace content. Technology, in order to be amazing, can never be one-dimensional.

“If digital is meant to be the “always on-24/7” medium, its content needs to be interesting to keep the conversation going,” says Budjette Tan, McCannMRM Worldwide Executive creative director, one of the speakers in the recent 2013 IMMAP Summit.

“A brand can’t always be on “sales pitch mode” when talking to its customers,” he says. Tan talks about “BUYRAL: Creative Content Marketing” and presented case studies on how campaigns can get viral and provide business results.

He cites a number of Facebook communities with the right kind of content.

“Nescafe welcomes you as if you just entered their ‘Kapihan.’ Royal’s page grew to over 500,000 fans in less than a year and kids keep coming back. Kit Kat attracts a lot of people because of its funny videos and interesting infographics,” he stresses.

With the advertising industry on the cusp of a digital revolution, Business Friday interviews another Filipino icon whose career crossover to digital is just as amazing as when she became the first woman country head of Indonesia’s biggest ad agency, Lowe Jakarta.

Eleanor Modesto, now president of Pure Online, one of the Philippines’ leading digital agencies, helped nurture Indonesia’s infantile ad industry to where it is now—with 23 fruitful years of mentoring some of Indonesia’s advertising leaders today.

Below is Business Friday’s exclusive interview with Modesto.

BF: Why should advertisers go digital?

EM: The signs are everywhere, TV is getting content from Youtube, most of us get the latest news from the web, trends are now seen first in digital (i.e. the netizens on the pork barrel, Miley Cyrus “twerking” etc.).

The latest rally in Luneta was started in social media, the Napoles/Pork Barrel controversy is fueled and kept alive in the digital space. Print, radio and TV ads all point customers to their Facebook page, Twitter, Youtube, etc.

Brands need to be in digital but not just be present but also make their presence relevant and appealing. That’s the challenge of digital—how to make brands work and interact with their customers.

Digital is measurable at every point in the purchase funnel. You can tell which channel converted into purchase and second it’s data base, so there’s an opportunity to maintain a meaningful customer relationship over the long term.

BF: How has digital advertising grown over the last five years?

EM: There are lots of ways to look at this. There are quite a few new entrants into the space, whether they are existing agencies with a beefed-up digital department, or a specialist agency that does nothing but digital.

There are lots of brands that have invested in maintaining a Facebook or Twitter presence, but there are certain basics that are still being omitted.

Very few Philippine companies have an online storefront or customer service channel. In terms of media-spend, Mike Palacios of Havoc says as per IMMAP, the estimated digital Adex (ad expenditures) has gone up from 0.8 to 2 percent of the media pie in the last three years but the rate could be faster and higher.

Internet ad revenues in the US totaled a record $10.31 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 12 percent from the third quarter of 2012. Mobile revenues surged 111 percent in 2012 to $3.4 billion, building on 2011’s record-breaking 149 percent year-over-year rise to $1.6 billion

BF: What are the most common barriers to digital advertising?

EM: Most of the barriers are client side. There is a perception that investment in digital advertising automatically means banner ads. That’s not what digital advertising is all about.

Then there are businesses not yet migrating to digital. Even banks and auto companies are still not 100 percent embracing it. The e-commerce or online transaction revolution needs to happen.

I have a theory that the highest barrier is “fear,” also “lack of understanding of digital” and the perception that it is “cheap.”

A number of marketing departments are either being run by light or non-users of digital. In contrast to MNCs (multinational companies) who are mandated to allocate 10-25 percent of their marketing budgets to digital.

As younger managers move up the ladder to make decisions, the role of digital advertising will become stronger and new generation of digital natives will flourish.

BF: What is digital’s distinct strength over other channels?

EM: Digital’s strength is its ability to “engage” customers and have a real, on-time conversation with them. But the power is when all media intersect—so TV uses the web and social media and the same goes for radio, out of home integrating with digital, mobile and social media, that’s when it all comes together.

BF: What is a good digital ad agency?

EM: When it knows how to use digital tools in a strategic and effective way. You can always keep a creative agency on tap to churn out ideas, but that’s not necessarily what a digital agency is about.

The best digital agencies have framework that integrates social media and e-commerce, builds and delivers a mobile CRM strategy, and more.

Too many existing agencies are focused on “Facebook maintenance” and “viral videos” because they are easy offshoots of what they’re doing today in traditional media.

BF: What is your company’s point-of-difference?

EM: We have a great mix of digital brains like Nix Nolledo and Mike Palacios who are digital pioneers in the Philippines.

Our key operators: Rupert Japlit, our GM headed Netbooster (now Movent), Ronan A. Chua, ex-Publicis & Geiser Maclang CD is a blogger and a good example of ATL/Digital hybrid creative and our Operations Head Raffy Rodriguez brings years of digital experience from Ogilvy.

Our shareholders are some of the top names in the business—Abby Jimenez, founder and ex-Chair of JimenezBasic; Ichay Bulaong, Godmother of Direct Marketing and ex-head of ABS-CBN Relationship Marketing; and RJ Esteba, CEO of PSRC and co-owner of AGB Nielsen.

BF: What’s your management style?

EM: When we find people with the potential, I try to guide them by pointing out what results we are targeting for and then I let them go for it. In my younger days I tended to micro-manage which was not a good thing.

I have learned to let the younger people get the directions and manage the projects themselves and with new technology, they are better suited to the requirements so they make good and often times better decisions and that’s great.

BF: Briefly, who is Eleanor Modesto as a private person?

EM: I’m eternally curious and I want to keep learning, that’s why I’m still in the business.

BF: How does your company keep abreast with the fast-changing world of digital?

EM: We believe in constant education with the latest technologies, encourage our staff to read and learn aggressively. We have a robust training program, not just on technology but also about branding, customer relationship and, of course, the latest trends in the business.

We track the Web for the latest technologies, apps, monitoring tools, trends, etc. We also engage with industry groups to have access to human experience and contextual know-how.

Pure (Online) just signed an affiliation with Isobar, the top digital agency globally and this means more training opportunities and exposure to the latest technology and global ideas.

BF: How do you see digital advertising in the Philippines 10 years from now?

EM: As adoption increases we will start to see digital becoming the primary vector for branded content. Right now that position belongs to broadcast television, but once TV and OOH (out of home-ads mounted outdoors) become IP-based with smart TV sets, we will see a massive shift.

We will see the agency role start to fragment. No one digital agency will be able to fulfill all the client’s needs. The role of the agency will be as integrator, or content creator. Pure-Isobar would like to be on the forefront of all these changes.

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Tags: advertising , digital , Eleanor Modesto , interview , New Media , technology

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