Five Predictions for Adtech in 2020


This is the time of year when people start gazing ahead and can’t resist a powerful urge to try and predict what the coming year will bring. 2020 is even worse, since it’s the beginning of a new decade. Should AdAsia join the fray?

We received the following predictions from Vivi Wang, Business Development Director, Southeast Asia over at Mobvista, a provider of mobile advertising and analytics.

Since a few of these don’t only apply to just the mobile ad tech industry but to the wider marketing services sector as a whole, we wouldn’t mind sharing them with you. So here goes.

Prediction 1: The number of players in the advertising technology landscape will be at its highest level ever.

In recent years, programmatic advertising has reached an unprecedented level of adoption as the industry responds to changing marketplace dynamics. This has resulted in the formation of multiple third-party platforms and tools that enable advertisers to expand the efficiency and effectiveness of advertising campaigns. These platforms and tools have also continued to evolve as the programmatic value chain becomes more complex – resulting in the birth of even more features that provide advertisers with the ability to keep up with the ever changing landscape.

The increasing number of vendors in the industry means an increase in the level of competition between the different players. Brands can therefore afford to be more picky when choosing partners to work with. To succeed, players in the ad tech industry need to ensure that their capabilities are driven by a customer-centric approach that is grounded in brand experience, privacy, and powerful analytics. The high level of competition will correspondingly ensure higher levels of quality in the services offered by most players in the market, in turn bolstering the growth of the ad tech landscape for the coming year.

Prediction 2: Out with the CMO, and in with the CGO (Chief Growth Officer)

Today, producing content is a must for every brand. But that also means that brands are not only going against other brands, but other content creators; which essentially means other social media content users – comprising of both individual consumers and other brands alike.

As brands now have to fight harder to vie for consumers’ attention, they also have to be smarter about where budgets are allocated. Return on Investment (ROI) is becoming more important, and brands are naturally becoming more cautious about their ad spend. To make things more complicated, the current vast availability of data means that the metrics used to quantify and qualify success are becoming more complicated, and will need the expertise of someone who understands not only marketing, but also the other aspects of the company’s offerings that drive growth – such as sales, product, tech, and consumer advocates. Enter the Chief Growth Officer (CGO) – an individual whose role is fundamentally cross-functional, overseeing multiple divisions. Because of their visibility of various other functions, and the centrality of their role in the company’s performance, CGOs find themselves having influence and accountability across various departments when it comes to board meetings. In the coming year, we foresee the emergence of CGOs becoming more prevalent.

Prediction 3: Short videos will reign supreme

The surge of digital growth has necessitated the need for brands to deliver high-quality digital customer experiences (CX). CX is now a fundamental component of digital strategies, and advertisers are constantly having to explore new ways to capture customers’ attention.

2020 will see a greater shift towards more creative-focused solutions that enhance consumer engagement. Video has been the king of content for many years now; however, TikTok’s 15-second video format has revolutionised the way in which stories can be told, the limited time necessitating users to think creatively in sharing their story. Couple this with today’s mobile-first consumer – bombarded with content competing for their attention – brands and advertisers will need to reinvent the way they engage with their target market. As a result, we expect to see more brands and social platforms embracing short video formats in the year to come.

Prediction 4: The rising importance of influencer partnerships in SE Asia, as influencer platforms become increasingly automated

Influencer marketing has really erupted in the last five years. While there currently exist conflicting views on whether influencer marketing is fad or the future, there is no doubt that influencers have since disrupted traditional marketing strategies. As networks like Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok continue to rise in popularity, especially among younger audiences, it is not surprising to project that influencer marketing will be here to stay – at least in the near future.

Like any marketing strategies, conceptualising an influencer programme requires careful planning and deliberate targeting. Influencer marketing is also very different across different networks, so an understanding of each network, as well as the user behaviours of each network, is imperative. Additionally, given that influencer marketing is relatively nascent in the region, collaborating with influencers on campaigns can be very time-consuming. With many different categories of influencers, brands have to approach these influencers and negotiate on terms and rates individually – a potentially frustrating process that can take up a much longer time than it needs to be.

Taking a leaf out of our Western counterparts’ book, it will only be a matter of time before the establishment of an automated platform for influencer management. This will not only help to simplify the process of managing influencers for campaigns, but also allow for a more standardised method of reporting and analysing results – enabling a more accurate snapshot of the performance of the collaboration. These automated platforms may take a while to be established, but I believe that we will see a movement towards that eventuality in the coming year – perhaps starting with the rise of consolidated platforms that will help ease the process of influencer marketing.

Prediction 5: Southeast Asia will be the global leader of online gaming and e-commerce

E-commerce has played an important role in driving the internet economy in 2019. In 2020, e-commerce will play an even more central role in driving the internet economy. The surge in e-commerce in the region is actually part of a broader transformation – beyond enabling consumers to transact online, e-commerce has also helped to increase efficiency of cross-border logistics network, enabled offline retailers to reach new consumers, and create a secure medium for digital payments. These have all contributed to building trust in the region’s internet economy. As it continues to build in momentum, we expect e-commerce to be the main driving force of this growth – creating more opportunities for even more exciting innovations in the upcoming year.

The global spotlight is also on another industry that has grown significantly as a direct result of the growing digital economy: online gaming. Recent research has predicted that the number of PC and mobile gamers in Southeast Asia will rise to a staggering 400 million, accumulating a combined revenue of $4.4 billion USD by 2021. A group of nations known as the ‘Big 6’ – namely Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam – are taking the lead as the biggest growth markets. Given the mobile-first nature of the Big 6 nations, we expect to see the growth of mobile-centric gaming and startups in 2020.

TL;DR: we all know mobile leads the pack in marketing growth, and in a lot of its development. It pays to watch the major trends on mobile because it is inevitable that these will be reflected in all other digital channels.